There is no middle ground. That’s the moral of today’s story, the point of today’s Gospel. “Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.” So says Our Lord. You can’t sit on the fence when it comes to your Christian life. A divided household falls. Today’s Gospel asks you who you will choose to hear: Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus or Satan. Of course, we know the answer in a Romans 7 kind of way—the good I want to do I do not do, and the evil I do not want to do, that I do. The new man created in each of us by Holy Baptism wants to hear Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus, and rejoices in what they say; he is happy to receive guidelines and boundaries. But the Old Adam, the flesh we all wear, cringes at those things. The Old Adam hates Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus. Today’s Gospel is a warning that it’s possible to fall away even after faith is created. It’s a reminder to guard our life and conduct. It’s an admonition to be one who hears the Word of God and keeps it.
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.