“The Day Is Coming” (Malachi 4:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-28)
“The Day Is Coming.” “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.” What day am I talking about? Thanksgiving? No, nobody cares much about Thanksgiving anymore, except for eating turkey and watching football and getting a head start on . . . Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, the big shopping day of the season–now that’s a day that lots of people get excited about! But no, that’s not the day I’m talking about. Oh, OK then, Christmas, that must be it. Only 37 shopping days left till Christmas! The Christmas songs are already playing on the radio and in the stores. But no, that’s not it, either. That’s . . . Read All
“The God of the Living and the Sons of the Resurrection” (Luke 20:27-40)
In these days of November, as we near the end of the church year, our thoughts turn to the end times, the return of Christ, and, as we just confessed in the Creed, “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” Our Scripture readings during these weeks reflect this emphasis. So it is with our lessons today. In particular, I want to direct our attention this morning to the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke 20, where Jesus speaks of “The God of the Living and the Sons of the Resurrection.”
The original setting for this text was during Holy Week, in Jerusalem, as Jesus was . . . Read All
The parable Jesus tells in the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke 18, is traditionally called the Parable of the Importunate Widow. “Importunate” is an old-timey kind of word. It means “persistent in making a request,” even to the point of becoming something of a bother. And that would describe the widow portrayed in this parable. She was importunate. She was persistent in her seeking justice from an unjust judge. And Jesus is saying, through this parable, that this is how we in the church should be–importunate, persistent. Thus our text today is “A Parable of Persistent Prayer.”
The parable is introduced with a brief explanation that sums up the main point: “[Jesus] . . . Read All
Saint Luke the Evangelist was a physician (Colossians 4:14) and a companion of St. Paul on some of his missionary journeys (see Acts 16:10ff; 20:5ff; 27-28).
Material found in his Gospel account and not elsewhere includes the Annunciation and almost all we know of Jesus’ birth, infancy, and boyhood. He recounts some of the most moving parables, including the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. He also provides three of the sayings of Christ on the Cross: “Father, forgive them (23:34)”; “Today, you will be with me in Paradise (23:43)”; and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! (23:46. . . Read All)”
The Holy Gospel for today from Luke 17, about the cleansing of the lepers, happens to be the assigned Gospel for the Day of Thanksgiving. And that makes sense. Jesus’ words about the one who came back to give thanks make it a natural for that occasion. But this text also shows up as a regular Sunday reading during the three-year lectionary, and thus it appears today. So this morning we’ll take a slightly different approach to this text than we would on Thanksgiving. Today we’ll emphasize the text’s theme of “Mercy for the Marginalized.”
Mercy for the marginalized: What do I mean by that? Let’s talk about those two words, “mercy” and “marginalized.” . . . Read All
In our Gospel reading for today, from Luke 17, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and he is giving instructions to his disciples. At first glance it may seem like these are just several disconnected sayings strung together rather loosely. First there’s something about woe to anyone who causes a person to sin. Then there’s something about forgiving your brother. Then there’s a request about increasing our faith and Jesus’ response about faith like a mustard seed. And then there’s something about unworthy servants who only do their duty. Now all this could sound like three or four random instructions pieced together without rhyme or reason. But I don’t think that’s the . . . Read All
Do you remember the name Bernie Madoff? He was in the news a few years back. Bernie Madoff was the investment-firm guy, the money manager, who, over the years, defrauded his wealthy clients out of billions of dollars–that’s “billions” with a “b.” Madoff made off with billions–for a while, at least. He finally was caught, and he’s in the jailhouse now, awaiting his release in the year 2159, when he will be 221 years old. But Bernie Madoff had to have been a rather shrewd character, he must have had something on the ball, to get away with what he did for as long as he did.
Now imagine Jesus told a parable in . . . Read All
“The Great Reversal: The Humble Exalted” (Luke 14:1-14)
Up is down, and down is up, in the kingdom of God. Or so it seems sometimes. Actually, the kingdom of God is all about turning things rightside-up. It’s just that rightside-up may look upside-down from our cockeyed perspective. From God’s perspective, though, the way things are in his kingdom is just right, the way things ought to be.
Such is the case with our text for today, the teaching of Jesus that we find in Luke 14. Here Jesus makes one of his many paradoxical statements, which he seems to do all over the place in the gospels, statements that sound like the reverse of what you might expect. Today’s example . . . Read All
“Strive to Enter through the Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)
Do you ever wonder about who all will be saved? When people die, and when this world comes to an end, how many will make it into heaven? How many will end up in hell? And on what basis? “Pastor, what about people who did the best they could? What about people who never heard the gospel, like in Borneo or Papua New Guinea? Will they get in? If they don’t, how is that fair? What kind of a God would send anybody to hell? If that’s the God of the Bible, then I don’t want to believe in him.” You see where these questions lead.
“The Lawyer and the Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)
Our text today is one of the most familiar and well loved of Jesus’ many parables. It’s the story of the Good Samaritan. But really, we could call it the story of “The Lawyer and the Good Samaritan.”
You see, there’s something that happens that prompts Jesus to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a little exchange that Jesus has with a lawyer in the crowd: “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the . . . Read All
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot – they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17: 26-30).
As previously discussed, Jesus had told his hearers that the Kingdom . . . Read All
And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation” (Luke 17:22-25).
Jesus, having answered the Pharisee’s question regarding the coming of God’s kingdom in a most remarkable way, he turns to his disciples. Jesus seems to be telling his . . . Read All
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21).
What do the Pharisees mean when they say, “The kingdom of God”? The Pharisees of Jesus’ day are descendants of the Jewish religious leaders who led Israel during the time of the Macabean revolt (Harrison, Bromiley, & Henry, 1990). After the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, the Persians, led by Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon. Cyrus allowed the captive Israelites to return . . . Read All
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” This is our text.
“Lifting up his hands he blessed them.” On this Ascension Day, I invite you to consider with me those hands of Jesus. The hands with which he blesses us, as he ascends into heaven. For these hands of Jesus are “Hands of Blessing.”
As I was thinking about the lessons for tonight’s Ascension service, it was those hands that caught my attention. Why does Jesus lift up his hands as he blesses? After all, to give a blessing does not . . . Read All
The three-year lectionary offers pastors and people the opportunity to meditate upon a specific gospel throughout the liturgical year. This year, in series C, we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Gospel of Luke. As we preach from Luke for Series C, Dr. David Schmitt hosts a conversation with Dr. Jeff Kloha and Dr. Jeff Oschwald (who is writing the CPH commentary on Acts) about the themes and preaching possibilities we will encounter in Luke. Come to the table, enter the conversation, and enjoy.
Part 2 deals with preaching Luke in the non-festival half of the church year (Pentecost). Part 1 dealt with . . . Read All
“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?” (Luke 23:1-56)
“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?” Short answer: None. But then why all this pain and sorrow and death on this day when Jesus is sentenced and crucified and buried? What could possibly be good about this Good Friday? The hymn we sang will lead us into the answers.
O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession,
What dark transgression?
These, of course, are rhetorical questions. The expected answer is obviously “None.” No law broken, no great crime, no dark transgression. Nothing of the sort did Jesus commit. And the . . . Read All
“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” So said Jesus on this night, this night on which he was betrayed, this Holy Thursday when he instituted the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood. “The New Covenant in My Blood”: What does Jesus mean by that? This is our theme for this evening.
The first thing we ought to clear up is this word “covenant.” It’s not a word we use every day. What is a covenant? Simply put, a covenant refers to a solemn relationship between two parties. In its broadest usage, it can mean something like a contract entered into by two . . . Read All
[Note: This sermon was preached in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. + Herbert Mueller]
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34).
The story of Zacchaeus is a very famous and familiar story in the Bible. Most of us probably remember it from our Sunday School lessons and from that children’s song we all learned. You know the one I’m talking about. It goes like this:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
A wee little man was he;
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And when the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree,
And he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down from there!
For I’m going to your house today!
For I’m going to your house today!”
And besides its appeal to children, who like . . . Read All
“What Will the Owner of the Vineyard Do?” (Luke 20:9-20)
In the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke 20, Jesus tells a parable. It’s the Parable of the Tenants, also called the Parable of the Vineyard. It goes like this: Some tenant farmers are supposed to take care of a vineyard for its owner, but instead they take over the vineyard for themselves. They beat and mistreat the servants whom the vineyard owner sends to them, and they even kill the owner’s son. Jesus then asks the question, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do?” Well, let’s find out. And we’ll also find out how this story involves us, as we consider the question: “What Will the Owner . . . Read All
Our theme for this midweek Lenten series is “A Little Lenten Lukan Joy.” We’ve been looking at the passages in the Gospel of Luke where the words “joy” or “rejoice” occur. And in most of those places, we find the people around Jesus rejoicing, or they are told by Jesus to rejoice.
For instance, when we talked about “The Joy of Christmas,” we saw that the people around Jesus were rejoicing as they anticipated or heard about his birth. John the Baptist, even before his own birth, leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when he heard the sound of Mary’s greeting. Mary sang for joy in her song the Magnificat, as she pondered . . . Read All
Gather round, and today I’ll tell you the story of “The Lost Boys.” No, not the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. This is a different story. It’s a story that Jesus tells, actually. It’s the tale of two boys that get lost. They get separated from their father, through their own stupidity and pig-headedness, and yet their father is very gracious and kind toward them, patient beyond all measure, and he wants to welcome them back with open arms.
“Oh, wait a minute, Pastor! Aren’t you talking about the parable of the Prodigal Son? That’s a very famous story that Jesus told. You know, the one about the son who took his inheritance money . . . Read All
“The Joy of Names Written in Heaven” (Luke 10:1-20)
President Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” And, in the civil realm, that’s fine. But is it so fine when we come to the ecclesiastical realm, the realm of the church, in other words, in the spiritual realm? When we’re talking about our relationship with God, is the important thing what we can do for God or what God can do for us? That is a question that our Lord Jesus Christ addresses in our text for tonight, when he speaks of “The Joy of Names Written in Heaven.”
We’ve been tracing the theme of “joy” in . . . Read All
“Jesus’ Take on Mass Tragedies: ‘Repent or Perish’” (Luke 13:1-9)
Whenever there’s a mass tragedy in the news–a building collapse or a mass murder, for instance—it’s become customary in our society to get opinions and comments from various high-profile individuals, celebrities or influential public figures. That’s what happens in our culture now, and it’s also what we see going on in Jesus’ time. In the Gospel reading for today, from Luke 13, some people ask Jesus for his views on a great tragedy that has just taken place, the mass murder of some Galileans at the temple in Jerusalem. They were slain, cut down, by Pilate’s soldiers. “So, Jesus, what is your take on this terrible tragedy? You’re a Galilean . . . Read All
The threefold Gospel cycle of our lectionary gives us the opportunity to hear our Lord’s passion in a new voice each year. This year the voice is St. Luke’s. The passion of Luke is the longest of the synoptics and the voice of Jesus is heard more often as well. If one chants it in Holy Week, it is perhaps the best account for multiple voices. You can download my notation of the text here (thank you to Henry Gerike for engraving this for me several years ago). If interested you can take a look at my earlier post on how I’ve gone about chanting the passion over the years.
The length of Luke’s passion narrative is somewhat typical of . . . Read All
Two weeks ago, on Ash Wednesday, we started this series on “A Little Lenten Lukan Joy.” And you may have thought that the theme that night, “The Joy of Repentance,” was a little strange. What does joy have to do with repentance? Well, if you thought that was strange, then tonight’s message will strike you as very strange. It’s called “The Joy of Persecution.”
“‘The Joy of Persecution’? What joy can there be in being persecuted?” Well, don’t blame me for that idea. I didn’t come up with it. It’s Jesus’ idea. He’s the one who said it: “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and . . . Read All
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