The Cross of Christ is the Way into the Kingdom of God
With the cross of Christ, the time has come “to gather all nations and tongues” (Is. 66:18). The sign of the cross is set forth in the preaching of the Gospel, the declaration of the Lord’s glory “among the nations” (Is. 66:19). Many “will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29), but only by the narrow way of the cross. Those who refuse to follow Christ crucified will ultimately find only “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28), whereas Christ’s disciples, called from all the nations, will eat and drink with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God. They will come into “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).
Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: O Lord, You have called us to enter Your kingdom through the narrow door. Guide us by Your Word and Spirit, and lead us now and always into the feast of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Collect for Proper 16 O Lord, You have called us to enter Your kingdom through the narrow door. Guide us by Your Word and Spirit, and lead us now and always into the feast of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
Prayer for pardon, growth in grace, and divine protection: O Lord, our God, we acknowledge Your great goodness toward us and praise You for the mercy and grace that our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, and our hearts have known. We sincerely repent of the sins of this day and those in the past. Pardon our offenses, correct and reform what is lacking in us, and help us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inscribe Your law upon our hearts, and equip us to serve You with holy and blameless lives. May each day remind us of the coming of the night when no one can work. In the emptiness of this present age keep us united by a living faith through the power of Your Holy Spirit with Him who is the resurrection and the life, that we may escape the eternal bitter pains of condemnation.
By Your Holy Spirit bless the preaching of Your Word and the administration of Your Sacraments. Preserve these gifts to us and to all Christians. Guard and protect us from all dangers to body and soul. Grant that we may with faithful perseverance receive from You our sorrows as well as our joys, knowing that health and sickness, riches and poverty, and all things come by permission of Your fatherly hand. Keep us this day under Your protective care and preserve us, securely trusting in Your everlasting goodness and love, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Monday, 15 August 2016—Psalm 117; antiphon, Psalm 96:6a; 115:18—Psalm 117, the shortest of the psalms, comprising only two verses, is paired with an antiphon that announces, Splendor and majesty are before him; we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord. The splendor and majesty of the Lord are shown chiefly in His steadfast love toward us and in His faithfulness, which endures forever.
Tuesday, 16 August 2016—Psalm 50:1–15—This psalm of Asaph speaks of the Lord as a mighty Judge. The Lord will judge all men based on their faithfulness and trust in Him, not on the outward show of ritual and religion. We must ever be on our guard, that we do not just ‘go through the motions,’ but that our hearts are right: that is, that we trust not in ourselves, nor in any earthly rulers or things, but solely in God the Lord for our salvation. He alone can accomplish it, and He delights in our trust in Him. Call upon me in the day of trouble, He exhorts us, and promises, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016—Isaiah 66:18–23—In this, the last chapter of the great Gospel-drenched Book of Isaiah, the Lord speaks to His faithful. They will rejoice at the revelation of His glory, especially at the Last Day, when this present age shall pass away and God will bring forth new heavens and a new earth. The adoration of the Lord by the faithful shall never cease. Tragically, however, the torment of those who have rebelled against the Lord shall also not cease. Let us, then, ever remain faithful to the Lord and to His Word, that we may be counted among those whom the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, brings in from all the nations.
Thursday, 18 August 2016—Hebrews 12:4–24—We continue our reading through the latter chapters of Hebrews with an exhortation to remain faithful, even when suffering or persecution befalls us. We are not to regard such as punishment, but as discipline, as from a loving Father. the goal of such discipline is not the suffering, but the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Friday, 19 August 2016—Luke 13:22–30—Christ Jesus was born for one purpose: to suffer and die for the sins of the world. In the Gospel reading for Sunday, we see Him journeying toward Jerusalem, where His mission will be accomplished. Along the way, He performed many miracles and also taught the people, as He does here. A common question, then as now, is, ‘Who will be saved?’ Instead, Jesus answers the question, ‘How will they be saved?’ The answer is, only through Christ. He is the narrow door through which the heavenly banquet is entered. He counsels us to strive and to struggle to enter. Our struggle is against our own flesh and blood, which wants eternal life on its own terms, and against the demonic forces of the devil, who wants all men to be damned. We are not to delay in entering the door, that is, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, and turning our backs on the devil, the world, and our sinful desires. For those who reject Christ, there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Saturday, 20 August 2016—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day, A Multitude Comes from the East and the West(LSB #510), uses the imagery of the feast from the Gospel reading. Partaking of the unending feast in the kingdom of heaven will be the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with all the faithful from the East and the West, people from every nation under heaven. What they have in common is their trust in the goodness of the Lord.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Face of Christ: http://spiritlessons.com/Documnets/Jesus_Pictures/Jesus_Christ_Pictures.htm