This week is one of competing attitudes. We will see Jesus’ selflessness against the Pharisees’ envy and jealousy. We will see Jesus’ determination against His disciples’ cowardice. We will see Jesus’ love against Satan’s hatred. We will understand better Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus’ Passion: “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me” (Is 63:3).
As we move towards Jesus’ crucifixion, we see the number of things that came together that resulted in the events of Good Friday. Tonight’s Gospel shows us that one of the greatest sins that brought about Jesus’ death is greed. We see it in Lazarus and the Pharisees and the Chief Priests. They are greedy, they covet what Jesus has. So, they do what they feel they need to do to get Him out of the picture, to put things back in place.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.