Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Preaching the Truth Always Makes Enemies

These are the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

There are two kinds of preachers. One pushes worldly glory. The other pushes the ugly cross where Christ was crucified for us, alone in the darkness. The former touts worldly success. The latter knows that those who speak God’s truth will always make enemies. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” the Bible says. So men who preach God’s full truth are bound to experience failure and disappointment. Following our suffering Savior, though, Christians even sing, “Go, then earthly fame and treasure. Come disaster, scorn and pain.” We even pray to God, “In your service, pain is pleasure. In your favor, loss is gain.”

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 50:4-10

Who is the special servant?

The prophesy is of Jesus. He would proclaim God’s Word (instructed tongue). He willingly submitted to the Word of God. He knew what the Lord wanted, and he obeyed (morning by morning). He is the great High Priest, who would offer up himself as a sacrifice for sin. (See Hebrews 7:26-28; 9:6-12.)

Who are those who fear the Lord?

The believers are the ones who possess deep respect and awe for the Lord. They give ear to the words of the Suffering Servant. All who fear the Lord and trust in the Word of the Lord’s Servant will find deliverance, forgiveness, and life.

Supplemental First Lesson – Jeremiah 38:1-13

What bad thing happened to Jeremiah? (See especially 38:6.)

Jeremiah was lowered into a cistern, in which he sank down into the mud.

Why did King Zedekiah allow this to happen?

King Zedekiah let Jeremiah be lowered into the cistern because four officials had told him that Jeremiah was discouraging people in Jerusalem. Jeremiah was telling them that those who stayed in the city during the Babylonian siege would die in terrible ways.

Traditional Second Lesson – James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18

How are we to treat our neighbor?

Here the Lord forbids favoritism and urges us to love everyone. God uses the trials of the poor and needy to test the faith of those who love him. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why does James say, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”?

Real faith inevitably yields good works. And if the works are absent, the faith claimed must be phony (Ephesians 2:10). As we come to faith in our Savior, we are justified, we are born again, we begin to understand God’s will for us, and the Spirit helps us to want God’s will and gives us the power to do God’s will. So if it is all talk and no action, faith is dead.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 4:12-19

In one word, how does Peter say you should think of yourself if others insult you because of the name of Jesus? (See 4:14.)

If others insult you because of the name of Jesus, you are blessed.

What does Peter mean in 4:17, when he says that it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, so even worse things are coming for the godless?

In short, Peter means judgment day will be hopeless for unbelievers. Paul Kretzmann answers our question by first quoting Augustine’s analogy: “‘If the sons are being chastised, what will happen to the slaves?’ What will be the fate of the unrighteous, if God does not even spare the righteous, his intention being to instruct and train them? The believers are hardly, but certainly saved; those, however, that have refused to be obedient to the Gospel, that were unbelievers from choice, will miss the salvation of Christ, will go away into everlasting destruction …. That is what the apostle calls out in impressive warning: If the righteous is hardly saved, where will the godless and the sinner appear?”

Gospel – Mark 8:27-35

Why was Peter rebuked for not wanting Jesus to suffer and die?

Jesus rebuked Peter, we could say, for not understanding what the name “Christ” really meant. Peter and the other disciples were looking for an earthly king. Jesus rejected Peter’s well-meant but ill-conceived rebuke. Without Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we would still be in our sins and lost forever.

What is meant by taking up the cross?

Taking up one’s cross means denying oneself. It means to follow the One who carried his cross to Golgotha by refusing to make oneself the sole object in one’s life but making God and his will the center one’s life. That will always involve sacrifices, avoiding everything that might come between us and our Savior (Mark 7:20-23), even being ready to suffer shame and death to remain faithful to him.

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