The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #40 The God of Abram Praise
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #410 Jesus Lead Thou On
Before Abraham Was, I AM
KJV John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
There will always be a great conflict between unbelief and faith. The reason is that the efficacy of the Word works against hardened hearts and agitates them. The Gospel of John emphasizes faith in Christ at every turn, to leave a lasting legacy of correction against various sects and style of false doctrine. They exist anyway, because of man's perverse nature, but the remedy against them is found in the Fourth Gospel.
The religious opponents do not want to tackle doctrine, so they use personal attacks. The truth does not settle them but makes them even angrier, as we see here. Jesus dwells on the main issue, their faith, which does not soften their approach at all.
In this era of the Great Apostasy, the same thing is going on. There is a vast amount of religious talk, about all religion, even about Christianity. I see it debated in a superficial way all the time.
Many seem to plead, "Go back to the way it was a few decades ago. This new approach is too far out."
On the topic of Creation, the issue is not exactly how old the universe is, but whether God created the universe by the Word, by command, through the Son of God, the Logos, the Creating Word. By Him all things were made.
On one hand I see the academics playing their games with various "scholarly opinions," which do not judge or even explain the Word of God.
On the other hand, I see far too much patience with the denomination's academics, as if a few satisfying slogans will appease them. I hear the slogans often enough to realize they mean little to those hiding behind them. Do the works of man judge the Scriptures, or do the Scriptures judge all of man's books?
A weak approach to Jesus as the Logos is the beginning of all kinds of mischief. And that is what we see in this century. There is a burning desire to be acceptable, even notable in the eyes of unbelievers. That means making faith subservient to worldly wisdom, which is the opposite of the Gospel.
Here Jesus is not pleading but proclaiming the Word of God. That is all one needs to do to accomplish His will. To think otherwise is to give credit to man's wisdom, charm, and cleverness. That only exposes the weakness of man's message without the Word.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
Here is a good example that jumps out at the faithful reader. Are you not a Samaritan? That is the worst kind of insult, because the Samaritans had their own Torah and were at odds with the Jews. One of the favorite parables of all time is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. That should be Gospel, coming from Jesus - am I not correct?
How is the Parable of the Good Samaritan normally taught? Answer - he is a do-gooder, and we should feel guilty we are not doing the same things. A Good Samaritan harangue leaves people hanging their heads in shame for what they have not done. But clearly Jesus is the Good Samaritan who goes to the half-dead person, cares for his wounds, provides a place of recovery for him (a Christian church) and the means to support it, with promises to take care of everything needed. Did Jesus teach salvation by works or by faith in Him? The way this is presented says quite a bit about the understanding of the teacher, because a works teacher will only see works.
How bad is this? One person wrote to say she had never heard the Good Samaritan presented as Jesus and the Gospel. How can this generation believe if we only modify the Pharisees of the past and seek to be better, more demanding Pharisees? The recent fracas at the "United" Lutheran Seminary shows how vicious and hateful these modern Pharisees can be with their own kind.
Jesus cured 10 lepers and only one returned to give thanks, to worship Jesus. "And he was a Samaritan." Those are telling words about salvation by faith in Him versus works of the Law.
Jesus is the human face of God the Father. He is the Incarnate Word, always working and teaching in harmony with the Father. Therefore, He is saying, "Your hatred and opposition is not against Me but against God the Father. I and the Father, we are one."
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
Because they are blind, they see only a man, but they feel a great threat. If they did not hate and fear what they heard, they would dismiss Him and nothing. Here is a second name or topic that has vanished from Christian discussions - Abraham.
As I mentioned before, I have Old Testament classes where the phrase Justification by Faith is unknown to many of them. The speak about covenant all the time and obedience to the Law. In contrast, there are groups where almost everyone is familiar with Justification by Faith.
Abraham is especially important here because he was the first ever who was justified by faith. He believed the Messiah would come from his lineage, and this would produce uncountable numbers in the Kingdom of God. "Abraham believed" the Promises and it was counted as righteousness. This is the exact language used by Paul in Roman and Galatians. Abraham is the man of faith, not praised for his works and his great accomplishments, but for His trust in the Promises of God about the Savior.
The UOJ enemies of Justification by Faith cannot bring themselves to use that phrase - Justification by Faith. It must burn their tongues and consciousness.
Here the allegiance to Abraham is solely by blood. The Jewish opponents consider Abraham their father, so Jesus is a newcomer and not allowed to argue with them. Are you greater than Abraham and the prophets, who are dead? (I was once dismissed by someone who said, "You criticized Pieper.")
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
As Luther pointed out, Jesus gently reproved the opponents and tried to explain the situation in a pleasant way. But that riled them even more. This is not to say that all rejected Him, because a substantial number believed in Him in the apostolic era, which was a source of great conflict among the synagogues and also in Christianity.
This Father-Son relationship is given a great deal of space in the Fourth Gospel. Here Jesus is merely hinting at His pre-existence, at the meaning of the Trinity. If we think about the Trinity and the Father-Son relationship He is teaching, this all makes sense. However, we are treated to the reaction to teaching the truth. We should keep that in mind because unbelief reacts in the same way to faith.
What happens so often among the academics is that they share their opinions about what they imagine is a comfortable truth for them, but they look down on the Bible as something they can use "as a rabbit's foot" as Kurt Marquart used to say. My friend Charles at Notre Dame called it "a sentimental attachment to the Bible." He was not allowed to write a dissertation about angels.
|Norma A. Boeckler|
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
This is a great Gospel statement by Jesus, and it is also a litmus test. If someone hates this truth, he is blinded and hardened by his own obstinacy and the power of the Word.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
From a believer's perspective, the response is pure blindness. Jesus' friendly statement simply makes them incredulous - a fine word for "unbelieving." This shows they are dismissing one statement after another as untrue because they are blind to Him already. This only grows worse as Jesus continues to teach and heal, to draw large crowds.
And the angel of the appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
So we can see that the pivotal message for Jesus is faith in Him, which makes us good in the sight of God. Through faith we received the righteousness of God, forgiveness of sin, and eternal salvation.
This healing Gospel bears fruit in good works, because the Word is always efficacious in doing God's will. We cannot make ourselves good by works or make up for our faults and sins by works, but as forgiven saints, the leaven of the Gospel grows to inhabit our lives, our speech, our actions, and our concern for our neighbor.
|Norma A. Boeckler|