One of the better known Psalm verses is from Psalm 118. The Psalmist writes “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It’s a very pious thought, a good Christian expression. God has made this day, and I will rejoice in what He sends me. However, to leave the verse’s meaning at that misses its context. If you read all of Psalm 118 you find the cry of Hosanna and “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” The Psalmist writes things like, “All nations…surrounded me like bees.” “You pushed me violently that I might fall.” “The Lord has chastened me severely.” “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” Psalm 118 is all about Holy Week, especially Good Friday. So when we say “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” we’re talking about today, the day on which Jesus Christ tasted death for our sin.
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.