As we read the Gospels, we become more and more acquainted with the false piety of the Jews. So often they say and do things that look like they believe. They make us think that maybe we give them too much of a hard time. Today’s Gospel is a perfect example. They come to Jesus and seem to be eagerly in search of the promised Messiah, wrestling with questions if Jesus really is the promised Christ. They seem like they’re looking for a place to put their faith, one in whom they can believe. The problem is that Jesus has given them more than enough proof. He is by no means vague. He does things only God can do: He heals men and women of various diseases and maladies, He preaches with the authority and power of God, and He forgives sins. He performs other miracles. He uses God’s personal Name, I AM, for Himself. Though the Jews beg Jesus, “tell us plainly,” He has confessed quite plainly, by word and deed, who He is and from Whom He comes.
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.