In tonight’s Gospel Jesus takes His disciples aside to let them know what is going to happen to Him. This is the third time He has told them, and it is also the most detailed of the Passion predictions. For the first time Jesus mentions that He will be handed over to the Gentiles and crucified. How exactly the disciples responded we do not know. But we know from the previous two times, they were shocked and saddened, but also perplexed. How could this happen to the long-awaited Messiah? How could their own leaders do this to their Savior? They did not yet understand that Jesus would enter into His glory through rejection, suffering, and death.
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.