Today’s readings center around the realities of our Christian life as people redeemed by Jesus Christ, but waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body, and the glories to be revealed. Until that day, we are in need of instruction on how we live together in this life, both in the Church and in the world. Besides instructions on moral living—how we keep the Law of God, what sins we are to avoid, and the like—our biggest need of instruction in Christian living is how to live with one another in forgiveness. Jesus gives us the model of how we must live together: we must be more eager to forgive than to hold onto anger or resentment, we must be zealous for our neighbors’ spiritual and eternal wellbeing, and crowning all of that is a life of repentance and reception of Jesus’ forgiveness which makes us able to live in God-pleasing ways.
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.