Christ’s Suffering and Death Bring Division
The Lord Jesus causes fear and trembling and division because His Word is “like fire . . . and like a hammer which shatters a rock” (Jer. 23:29). His Law puts us all to death, whereas only His Gospel can bring us to life. He has fulfilled that Word for us by His cross and in His resurrection from the dead. He undergoes such a distressing Baptism, accomplished by His death, in order to open the way for us through our Holy Baptism into His cross and resurrection. So, then, if we are able “to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky” (Luke 12:56), let us mark this sign of His cross—recognizing that this world is subject to death, but knowing that Christ Jesus has also conquered death and obtained life everlasting for us. Let us fix our eyes “on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1–2).
Collect for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Merciful Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ. United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in His way; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for grace to receive the Word: Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for blessing on the Word: Lord Jesus Christ, giver and perfecter of our faith, we thank and praise You for continuing among us the preaching of Your Gospel for our instruction and edification. Send Your blessing upon the Word, which has been spoken to us, and by Your Holy Spirit increase our saving knowledge of You, that day by day we may be strengthened in the divine truth and remain steadfast in Your grace. Give us strength to fight the good fight and by faith to overcome all the temptations of Satan, the flesh, and the world so that we may finally receive the salvation of our souls; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for the feast of St Mary, the Mother of Our Lord (15 August): Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Monday, 8 August 2010—Psalm 55:1, 12–14, 16; antiphon, Psalm 55:22—When we are burdened, either by the troubles of this world or by the guilt and consequence of sin, we are exhorted to cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Who are they who are righteous? Those who are righteous by faith in the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, as we learned in the readings for yesterday (Sunday). Whenever we call on God, the LORD saves us (v. 16).
Tuesday, 9 August 2010—Psalm 119:81–88—The psalm appointed for next Sunday is very similar to the Introit, as it is written by one who is burdened—in this case, by his persecutors. Whence can he—and we—find salvation? The psalmist is confident as he prays, I hope in your word; My eyes long for your promise. The promise of salvation from the persecution of sin and death has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, 10 August 2010—Jeremiah 23:16–29—In the time when Jeremiah prophesied (late 7th and early 6th century B.C.), there was no shortage of false prophets, purporting to speak for the LORD, but really speaking only their own words and what the people wanted to hear. Not much has changed in the intervening 2,700 years. Many people are still drawn to false prophets who prophesy lies and speak that which people want to hear, in order to grow wealthy from the donations of those whom they dupe. Even though it may not lead to churches which are bursting at the seams, orthodox Lutheran pastors must speak [the LORD’s] word faithfully (v. 28).
Thursday, 11 August 2010—Hebrews 11:17–31; 12:1–3—The epistle for Sunday continues in the great chapter of faith, recounting Abraham’s testing, Moses, and also the Children of Israel. Therefore, says the writer—that is, since we since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses—we ought to follow their example, and also cling in faith to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, the One through whom we have salvation by His death, and the One through whom we have salvation by His gift to us of faith in that salvific death.
Friday, 12 August 2010—Luke 12:49–53—In this world, we will always have trouble, for we are not of the world (John 15:19). We can expect that those of the world will persecute us, as it did the psalmist in the Psalm for the Day; the devil will try to burden us with guilt, like the psalmist in the Introit; the world will demand that the truth of God is suppressed, and that preachers preach what they want to hear, as in the Old Testament reading, and that, even in our families, there will be division because of the Gospel of Christ. This is because the world is in bondage to sin and the devil, and these things are opposed to God and His lovingkindness, grace, and mercy. But, if we continue in faith, we shall endure to the end, and shall receive the crown of everlasting righteousness and eternal life with God in heaven.
Saturday, 13 August 2010—How do we overcome the sin, the devil, the world and its hatred of us. Sunday’s Hymn of the Day has the answer: Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word (LSB #655). This great hymn by Martin Luther is a prayer that God would guard and keep us from all those who wish to do us spiritual or physical harm. The Lord does this through the proclamation and preaching of His Word, and by the Sacraments—the Word of God combined with earthly elements, which preserve us in the one true faith until He takes us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven.