Daily Reading: November 14

Read Matt 26:36-56
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Mat 26:36-42)

What a great wonder this is! The Son of God, the Son of Man is praying. You might think, “What does Jesus need to pray for, he is God”? As God you might also think, “God gets everything he wants, right?” Ah, but look at the lesson Jesus is teaching us.

First, if Jesus prays, don’t you think that perhaps you might need to pray also? Are you greater than the Son of God who sees the need to pray and does so? As human you were designed by your Maker to pray. It is an ontological necessity. Jesus being truly human needs to pray. To not pray is to deny one’s humanity. It is also important to pray to the right God. Jesus prays to the Father, who is the only true God. We are promised to if we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, i.e. with faith in Jesus, he will listen to us.

We should learn from this also that not even Jesus gets what he wants in prayer. Jesus wants there to be another way. The end desire is the same as the Father, our salvation. But if we could be saved another way, Jesus would like that to be done. Are our end desires the same as the Father? We probably should compare our desires to that of the Father found in his Word.

Note then that Jesus submits his will to the Father’s will. Not my will but yours be done he prays. Now where He gives us a promise in the scriptures we may will all boldness demand of God in our prayers that he fulfill his promises. But even then like Jesus we must submit our will to his. We cannot demand of God to do things our way, manner, time, amount etc.. And where we don’t a direct promise from God concerning the content of our prayer how much more so should we pray with Jesus, “Not my will but your will be done.” James reminds us, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”(Jas 4:15) Finally, our prayers should not be selfish prayers. We should not only pray for ourselves. Note the words in the Lord’s prayer-Our, us, Thy, and Thine. We don’t pray me, myself, mine and I.

Lord Jesus Christ, give us faith to pray in such a way that we pray according to your good and gracious will and we submit ourselves in all we pray for according to the will of the Father. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 13

Read Matt. 26:20-35
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
(Mat 26:26-29)

So just what is Jesus doing here and why should it matter to us? Well Jesus is establishing a covenant with his people. More so, Luke and Paul give us the added information in the account that it is a new covenant. The author of Hebrews reminds us: “Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”(Heb 9:18-22) And so the blood of the covenant Jesus makes is with blood and note this covenant is for the forgiveness of sins. Of course Jeremiah told us about this centuries before when he wrote: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer 31:31-34)

In the Lord’s Supper, which is the new covenant, as we participate in it, we receive the signs or tokens of the covenant, which are Christ’s body and blood in the form of bread and wine. The bread is the body of Christ and the cup is the blood of Christ. Otherwise they would convey nothing. It would be merely symbolic. And we would have a symbolic covenant and a symbolic forgiveness of sins. But no, you actually receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening and perseverance of faith. Jesus’ body and blood seal to us his forgiveness, his life and his covenant. Jesus tells us here in the supper our sins are forgiven us. More than that, they are remembered no more. He restores our heart and puts his Law that is his Spirit in our hearts and we know the Lord because we believe the terms of the covenant—our sins are forgiven because Christ has given his body and shed his blood for us as the covenant. If you don’t believe your sins are forgiven here then you don’t know the Lord. But if you believe the words given by Christ, i.e. what you are being given and for what reason, then you have exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us your Holy Spirit that we might believe you have established a new covenant with us, with your body and blood, that we might be your people through the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 12

Read Matt 26:1–19
Mat 26:1-2 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, (2) “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Mat 26:6-13 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, (7) a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. (8) And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? (9) For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” (10) But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (11) For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. (12) In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. (13) Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is to come. He has told them on many occasions that he was going to be delivered to the chief priest and to the gentiles to be crucified, dead, buried and on the third day rise again. His disciples never seemed to get it. Of course in the gospels it seems those who ought to understand these things do not, while those who we might think wouldn’t understand these things do.

Such is the account in today’s reading. The disciples still do not get it. Even Judas who is going to betray Jesus into his enemies’ hands does not seem to get it. But here this woman seems to understand and believe what is going to happen. There is not going to be time to anoint Jesus’ body after the crucifixion according to Jewish custom. She understands that Jesus is going to be crucified and understand all that means. She believes Jesus will be risen from the dead on the third day and won’t be available for anointing when there is time. So, in faith in what Jesus has been teaching his disciples, she anoints Jesus ahead of time. Her act of faith is recorded for all time, even as we are reading it today, Jesus’ word is fulfilled.

This will set up Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. For thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, the Prince of Peace, the Author of Life, the Lord of Glory will be betrayed by his own disciple. This must happen of course if we are going to be saved. If we are going to be ransomed from death to life, the life of the eternal God must be shed upon the altar of the cross. If the seed of the woman is going to crush the head of the serpent, he must be struck on the heel and be brought to death by the fangs of the devil.

And so we know it happens. Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is crucified, dead and buried just as he predicted. Jesus is risen from the dead on the third day as he has said. What Jesus has said concerning you must also come to pass. What is that? He who believes and is baptized will be saved but he who does not believe will be condemned. So what about you? Do you believe Jesus has done this for you? Have you been raised to newness of life in baptism? Or do you reject the gift of Christ? Choose life, believe on Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us faith through your Spirit by this Word that we may be joined to your life, death and resurrection through baptism and live out your life in this world. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 11

Read Matt 25:31–46
Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

You could look at this parable and think that salvation is a reward for doing good. You’d be wrong, but you could do that. The key to this parable is in verse thirty-four. The sheep are those who are blessed by the Father. Why are they blessed? Because they have an inheritance. They have an inheritance because they are children of the Heavenly Father. Their inheritance is the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

The question you should be asking yourself then is how do I become and heir, someone blessed by the Father. St. Paul tells us, Tit 3:5-7 “…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” It is in baptism that we become children of God, where receive faith in Christ and the promised Holy Spirit. We must be born from above as Jesus tells us in John chapter three.

In faith, we humble ourselves like little children and are baptized into Christ. Jesus tells us, Mar 10:15 “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So we are born into the kingdom not by our choice or will but the will of God. (John 1:13) As children of God, those blessed by the Father, we will be about doing the things Jesus commends the sheep for doing. Jesus says, Mat 18:4-5 “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,..”

The goats on the other hand, do not humble themselves before God. They do not receive the kingdom as a gift. They do not bear fruits of the Spirit. While they may have outward good works that at times may surpass the good works of the saints in appearance, they are not God’s children through faith in Christ and baptism. They seek what they deserve and not the grace of God. For those who seek what they deserve from God they will get it. “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What condemnation to receive that which was prepared to punish rebellious angels. God deliver us from that!

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us humble hearts that we may trust in your merits, receive holy baptism being joined to you there through the water and the word, be made purified, receiving the promised Holy Spirit that we may do the works you have given us to do and be found blessed by the Father on the day of your return. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 10

Read Matt 25:14–30
Mat 25:24-30 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, (25) so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ (26) But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? (27) Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. (28) So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. (29) For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (30) And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

In this second parable of a series, we find that many pastors and teachers have tortured this parable into works righteousness or even worse a parable about stewardship. But what this parable about is attitude. The attitude of Jesus and the attitude of people towards him.

What is Jesus’ attitude towards people? It is one of trust and love. He trust and loves his disciples so he gives them vocations to do in this world each according to their faith and ability. Believe it or not while he praises those who double what he has given them, the bigger praise is that they were faithful in what he had given them.

Now what about this servant who buried the talent (a talent is a measure of money)? What is his attitude towards the master (Jesus)? “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,…” Do you see? Do you see the bad attitude of the servant? He does not love his master. He does not trust the master. He is called a wicked because he does love and trust the master. He is lazy because he acts on his fear and does not even do what would minimally be expected. He could have at the very least went and bought a bunch of lottery tickets or gone to casino and placed it on black. If he had done that he would have demonstrated his faith and trust in the master (Jesus). So what is your attitude towards Jesus? Is he some cruel taskmaster who keeps a record of wrongs and punishes and rewards people on their results? Or is Jesus the kind of master who would give up his life for his servants? Is Jesus the kind of God who is merciful, kind, forgiving, patient, and gentle of spirit? Well whatever kind of Jesus you believe you have, that’s the kind of Jesus you’re going to get on Judgment Day. What kind of Jesus do you want on Judgment Day?

O Lord Jesus Christ, grant us such faith in you and your good attitude toward us that we do not worry about being successful in all that we do but that we are faithful in everything we do in your name. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 9

Read Matt 25:1–13
Mat 25:10-13 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (11) Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ (12) But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (13) Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

So, just what is this parable talking about? You might think the central thought here revolves around the oil and what the oil in the parable represents. Certainly that is a good idea. It seems that oil and lack of it is prominent. The five wise virgins have extra in case the bridegroom is late and the five foolish only have enough for the normal amount of time one might expect to wait for the bridegroom to arrive. Lo and behold, the bridegroom is more than fashionably late and the foolish virgins’ lamps have burnt out. What are they going to do?

Here I believe we get to the heart of the story. What do the foolish virgins think about the bridegroom? What is their attitude towards him? Who is the bridegroom? We know the bridegroom is Jesus. Jesus has told us this many of time. The Bride is his Church. This parable is speaking of his second coming and what will happen on that day. I think we can safely say, from our point of view, Jesus is a bit more than fashionably late not for his second coming. You’ve been warned.

Now the foolish virgins get panicked. They’re out of oil. What should they do? They ask the wise to share. “Nope,” they say. The wise ones say perhaps they should go and buy some. Now just what is this oil or does it even matter? Is it faith? I don’t think so. You can’t go buy that? Is it works? Certainly or good works don’t have an expiration date. I don’t think the oil stands for anything. They eventually get some but by the time they get back, it’s too late. The point is, what is the foolish virgins attitude towards the Bridegroom?

They don’t trust his mercy, kindness, understanding, or gentleness but perceive him to be quite the opposite. They don’t believe he would accept them without the lamps burning. They don’t believe he would let them come into the wedding party unless they are properly prepared like the wise virgins. They just don’t trust him. If only they had waited for the bridegroom and trusted in his good nature. They don’t though.

The Bridegroom (Jesus) says he doesn’t know the foolish virgins when they finally get back. They cannot come in. You see when you don’t know Jesus as the loving, kind, gentle, and forgiving God that he is and that he will accept you as you are as long as you trust in him, then he doesn’t know you either. Jesus said the same thing to those who did good works in his name, but trusted in those instead of him. Jesus only knows us when we have faith in him and his character. Do you know Jesus? Does Jesus know you?

Lord Jesus Christ, ever give us such faith that trust in your goodness and not anything in ourselves that we may be known by you and allowed into the eternal wedding banquet on the last day. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 8

Read Matt 24:29–51
Mat 24:36-44 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (37) For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (38) For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, (39) and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (40) Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. (41) Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. (42) Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. (44) Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.” Well Christians should take some stock in that saying as Jesus tells us to be ready. One of the ways you can be ready and prepared is to pay attention to several key lessons here in chapter 24 of Matthew. One is many will come saying they are Jesus, or the Christ, or they have been anointed with the Spirit of Christ and they are fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus’ second coming. Jesus tells us everyone will know when he returns. It will be like lightning flashing from east to west and there will be a loud trumpet everyone will hear and then you’ll see him descending from the clouds with all his angels. There is no secret coming. If you don’t hear and see these things with everyone else, it isn’t Jesus.

Two, no one knows the day or the hour and while Jesus doesn’t explicitly say it this idiom, this phrase includes any time. So if anyone says they have figured out the code in the Bible or has a special revelation from God, know they are from Satan. Don’t believe them. The last day will seem like nothing special is going on. Like the day of the flood, the unbelievers will be swept away and the believers will be left behind, just as Noah and his family were left behind. There will be two people and the angels will gather up the unbelievers to the valley of decision, the place of judgment. The believers will be left behind to be transformed into their immortal bodies and be gathered with the resurrected believers with Christ in the air.

So be prepared and don’t let false prophets fool you. Be certain of what you believe and who you trust for your salvation. Make sure your faith is in Jesus, his promise of eternal life, forgiveness and salvation on account of his life, death and resurrection. Be busy living out that Christian faith in the free gift of the Father’s love for Jesus’ sake in showing mercy and pity to those around you. For that is how your Father in heaven treats you.

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith that we are not fooled by false prophets being led into unbelief and sin, but that we are always ready, being active in your Word with your holy people and be found living out lives of mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 7

Read Matt. 24:1-28
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. (Mat 24:4) But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mat 24:13-14) See, I have told you beforehand. (Mat 24:25)

Jesus today gives us a nice laundry list of things to expect before the end of the world. Sandwiched in between we get a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. So one of the things we should get from this is we will not know when the end will come. We’ll see many signs and indeed many of those signs have been occurring at least since Christ ascended into heaven.

But a number of people think that vs. 14 has yet to be fulfilled. I have good news. The biblical witness of the apostles is that by the time they all passed away, as far as God was concerned, this has occurred. Does that mean we stop? Nope, we have a continuing mandate to disciple all nations until he returns visibly.

We though are called to endure until the end. Don’t think you are going to escape and get raptured. You are already in the tribulation and the reign of Christ which began at his ascension into heaven. Eph. 1 Those who are caught up ala “one taken and the other left” are taken, where the vultures are, to be food for birds. Rev. 19

See Jesus has told us beforehand. We have nothing to worry about. We are simply called to be faithful until the end. How do we do that? We gather with other believers around Word and Sacrament. We live out our lives as followers of Christ in whatever vocations we have. We pray. That’s it. God bless!

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that you have told us what will happen before the end. Continually give us your Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word and your Holy Sacraments that we may endure until you return for us. Amen.