Lenski on Luke 17:1-10

1. Moreover he said to his disciples: Impossible it is for fatal traps not to come; nevertheless, woe through whom they come! 2. It is profitable for him if a millstone has been placed around his neck and he has been pitched into the sea rather than that he fatally entrap one of these little ones. 3. Take heed to yourselves — if thy brother commit a sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, remit it for him! 4. And if he commit sin against thee seven times during the day and seven times turn to thee, saying, I am repentant! thou shalt dismiss it for him. 5. And the apostles said to the Lord, Add to us faith! 6. But the Lord said, If you have faith as a kernel of mustard, you would say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and be planted in the sea! and it would have obeyed you. 7. Moreover, who of you is there, having a slave plowing or shepherding, who on his coming in form the field will say to him, At once, having come along, recline at table! 8. On the contrary, will he not say, Make ready what I shall dine on and, after having girded thyself, keep serving me until I finish eating and drinking, and after that then thyself shall eat and drink? 9. Does he thank the slave because he did the things he was ordered to do? 10. Thus also you yourselves, when you shall finish doing all the things ordered for you, be saying, Slaves unprofitable are we; what we were under obligation to do we have done.

verse 1
p 863 “Wicked men will always set deathtraps, especially for inexperience believers, and will bait these traps in all kinds of ways; and some believers will be caught. Jesus knows this and therefore pronounces this woe.”  


p 863 “Plhvn means that in spite of the fact that deathtraps will be set, woe is ‘nevertheless’ on him through whom they are set. This ‘woe’ is neither an accusation nor a mere exclamation of sorrow. Exactly like the ‘blessed’ in the Beatitudes, these ‘woes’ are verdicts, and these verdicts will be carried out inexorably.”

verse 3

p 865 “‘Remit it to him,’ pronounce absolution upon him in Jesus; name… Luther has often spoken of this great and blessed function of the royal priesthood, this delivering a brother from him sin by getting him to repent of that sin and giving him God’s pardon to relieve his conscience. The fact that the pardon is not pronounced by a pastor but by an ordinary brother makes no difference whatever if only the brother truly knows what he is about and acts as though he were in the sight of God. This is the first place in Luke’s Gospel where ‘brother’ is used to indicate the relation of one disciple to another. This word of Jesus is also spoken for the sinning brother; he is to know what Jesus orders to others to do for him, and what his Lord expects of him, namely prompt and genuine repentance.”
verse 5
p 866 “‘Add to us faith!’ is a petition for more and thus stronger faith. The apostles felt that they must have far greater faith than they had at present to beware of skandala or deathtraps and to help each other and their other brethren as Jesus had just directed. They felt this as apostles who were to warn and to correct each other and others.”
verse 6
p 867 “The answer of Jesus is frequently misunderstood. It is thought that he is speaking of charismatic faith (1 Cor. 13:2; 12:9), as if he said that they ought to have such faith. We are also told that the apostles ought to have answered their own prayer. But who of us would have thought that the apostles asked for charismatic faith, or that this kind of faith was needed for what Jesus had just said?”

p. 868-869 on talking to the mulberry tree to move itself into the ocean: “Exactly this very thing the apostles would soon do over and over again, for at their word the kingdom would be transplanted, root and branch, from Israel into the Gentile world in congregation after congregation – into territory in which no man would have thought the kingdom could grow and flourish; the Jews were sure that it could not. No charismatic faith was necessary for this, for the gospel was not spread through the world by anything but the ordinary faith of its bearers. All it needs to do is to act, and in its testing of the promise concerning the gospel that faith will grow and grow. And for that reason Jesus carefully adds the promise right here: ‘and it would have obeyed you.’ So Jesus answers the prayer. Faith is living trust in the gospel, and that trust grows as it witnesses and experiences the gospel’s power.”  

verse. 10
p 872 “Jesus himself interprets the parable, and we should at once see that it is intended for us, for our proper attitude toward our Lord, and is not intended to bring in what he does or ought to do toward us… However much our faith is increased and is able to do and actually does do in the Lord’s work, let no false claims or merit enter our minds… We need not discuss the question as to whether any servant of Jesus did all that commanded him, without omission whatever. The Lord cites a case that is perfect in this respect. Even Paul feels constrained to say that, although he knows nothing against himself, he is thereby not justified (1 Cor. 4:4).”


p. 873 “But when he so rewards, this is altogether and absolutely due to his abounding grace and generosity. It is because of himself  and not because of us and our work. One for all learn: if we think we ought to receive recognition at the Lord’s hands for our service, which is imperfect and poor at best and not to be compared with that of the slave in the parable, we are doing an outrageous and utterly presumptuous thing. We are then turning his whole undeserved grace, his glorious generosity, which is so glorious just because he gives it without the least merit on our part, into nothing more than a mere payment that is coming to us by right and justice. Can the Lord consent to such a double lie?”

“Interpretation on the Gospel of St. Luke” by R. C. H. Lenski, from Augsburg Fortress Press


Luther Quote of the Day

Similarly, man does not realize that the glory of nakedness was lost through sin. The fact that Adam and Eve walked about naked was their greatest adornment before God and all the creatures. Now, after sin, we not only shun the glance of men when we are naked; but we are also bashful in our own presence, just as Moses states here about Adam and Eve. This shame is a witness that our heart has lost the trust in God which they who were naked had before sin. Therefore even if Adam had been blind, he still would have been afraid to show himself naked to the eyes of God and of men, because through his disobedience his confidence in God was lost.

Luther’s works, vol.1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 page 167

Gerhard Quote

“If God so punish our sins in the person of His Holy Son, how shall He punish them in us? How shall God continually tolerate in a servant, that which He punished so severely in His own Son? What shall those whom He condemns suffer, if His only Son, whom He so dearly loves, suffered so much? If Christ, who came into the world without sin, could not depart from it without the bitter scourging, of how much sorer punishment shall they be deemed worthy, who are born in sin, who live in sin, and who die in sin ?”

Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation II

50th Post and it’s a sermon.

As the title says, this morning’s post a sermon. This is the first sermon that I’m putting out into the interwebs. I’m doing this to receive feedback from others in hopes of improving my sermon writing abilities. Please read and if you want to offer constructive criticism I’m a big boy, so please do. 
Rev. Ed Maanum
Bethany Lutheran Church
Luke 16:19-31
18th Sunday after Pentecost
September 26, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
          For the last couple of weeks there’s been a common theme in our Gospel lessons. Jesus has been talking to His disciples, those following Him and the Pharisees about wastefulness. In the first parable the shepherd potentially wastes the lives of 99 sheep out in the wilderness, this barren desolate place of death and destruction for all that enter, to find one lost sheep. The second parable is about a woman who waste’s oil to find a single coin which she spends in celebration. The third parable was about the prodigal son, the wasteful son. This son wanted his Father dead and his inheritance now, only to end up squandering it on a lifestyle filled with drug, sex and rock ‘n roll until he had to live with pigs. Last week was about the shrewd steward, who, after being fired from his job for wasting his boss’s income, found a way to make other’s owe debts to him instead of his master.
            As I said there is a common theme that is present in all of these parables that Jesus tells. It’s a theme that describes us when we waste and squander the gifts that God has given us… even for the shrewd steward. That parable is primarily for condemning the Pharisees and their love for money in contrast with us. For the Pharisees were just like the children of the world, they were unrighteous, but as saved Christians, we are the children of the light and are to use the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of others. In the end it all comes down to where your faith is… is it in God, who gave you the gifts, or is it in yourself and the gifts that were given you?
           Now we’re at this parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Truth be told, I’m not even sure if it is a parable. Jesus and Luke don’t say that it’s a parable. If it is, then it’s the first parable to use someone’s real name. I think that it’s more of an illustrative story which in the end will be treated in about the same way as a parable. I say ‘in about’ because a parable is always an illustrative story about the Kingdom of God in some way. This doesn’t have a Kingdom of God aspect to it, even though it mentions that Abraham and Lazarus are in heaven… but more on that later.
          In this story there is a rich man who has no name. His name isn’t important because it’s not a name that is written in heaven… which can only mean one thing: when this man dies, he’s going to hell, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.
          I find it interesting that the man’s name isn’t mentioned, for reasons already stated, but Jesus mentions that the man wore fine purple linen and ate sumptuously every day. Only the very rich… and I mean very rich could afford purple and this man was wearing it everyday. As if that’s not enough the man was feasting “sumptuously” in the ESV. We’re talking big, expensive and elaborate meals every day. These are the meals that are reserved for weddings and very important and special guests and he’s eating them every day. So yeah this dude is loaded like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. 
          Contrasting this rich man who has no name because it isn’t written in heaven, is Lazarus. Is this the same Lazarus whom Jesus mourned then raised from the dead? The same Lazarus who was the brother of Mary and Martha? My guess is probably not. Instead I think that the name is acting symbolically, for Lazarus means ‘God a help.” It shows that this man put all of his trust and faith in God for help.
          In Luke 6:20 Jesus say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” This Lazarus was poor, yet despite his being poor, he has more noble character than the rich man could have ever dreamed of having while on this earth.
          Lazarus was beyond poor, he was also deathly sick and had ulcers on his skin, they were festering, painful sores all over his body, which is different than leprosy in case you were wondering. He found a place to stay, a place that would appear to be ideal for a beggar, right outside the rich man’s house. After all this man had feasts every day, maybe Lazarus could get some of those scraps for himself that the rich man was going to throw away anyways. Unfortunately, Lazarus got none.
          His only friends were dogs. They weren’t the dogs of the rich man rather they were dogs from the neighborhood that had no homes either. They were scavenger dogs. They lived on their own because no one would take care of them or help them… they sound just like Lazarus. These dogs must have loved Lazarus an awful lot as well because they would lick Lazarus’ wounds, just like they would lick their own, to try to make them feel better. They knew they couldn’t provide food or shelter, but they could help ease his pain… or at least tried to.
          Despite all that these dogs tried to do to help ease Lazarus’ pain, Lazarus still died. Maybe he died from starvation; maybe the ulcers got the best of him. We don’t know, but what we do know is that the man died. There’s no mention of anyone mourning, no burial, no weeping. Lazarus was all alone in life and no one in this life cared for him besides the dogs and God. After Lazarus dies he’s taken up into heaven by angels of God.
          Then the rich man died. Maybe he died because of his extravagant and indulgent lifestyle, but just like Lazarus Jesus doesn’t say why or how this man died.  This death is a contrast to Lazarus’ death, for the rich man most likely had many friends who would join him for his feasts. I’m sure there would have been great mourning and weeping for a man of his earthly stature with a giant, overdone and moving burial remembering the man’s life and all that he did and not his faith, for the man had no faith to speak of. If he did, his name would have been known.  After the rich man dies he goes to the fires and eternal torments of hell.
          So far what’s been said by Jesus are things that we can understand and can experience here for ourselves. Asking for help and not getting any… being asked for help and not giving any. So far we can relate with both Lazarus and the rich man, but what happens next will change how we think and which one  of the two we relate with more.
           Jesus says that Lazarus is on Abraham’s bosom in heaven. Now of course this isn’t literally true, for Abraham and Lazarus are dead. Just like the rich man seeing Abraham and Lazarus or wanting a drop of water to cool down his mouth. The rich man no longer had eyes or a mouth like we do on earth. Here Jesus is explaining unexplainable things in a way that we can understand. It’s like a parent trying to explain something complex in the world and using words and ideas that the child knows. When talking to Ephraim about fire, instead of explaining why not to touch fire because of the laws for conservation of energy. conservation of mass and thermodynamics. I explain fire hot… fire hurt… fire give you owwie. We don’t know anything about what it’s like being a spirit and dead, so Jesus uses examples of things that we do know; bosom, sight, heat and water.
          The same rules apply to the distance issue of someone in hell being able to see and speak to people who are in heaven. Is Jesus saying that there are levels of purgatory before the Day of Judgment like some have said? That would utterly ridiculous. Despite the medieval thought, there are no levels in heaven or hell, and purgatory doesn’t exist. Jesus is using something that we know, distance and space, to explain something that we can’t, the chasm that is between heaven and hell that cannot be crossed.  
          This brings me to ask, why is Lazarus on Abraham’s bosom? Abraham is the recipient of the first covenant promise. He is the father of all in the faith. Every Christian that is saved is a son or daughter of Abraham. It’s also figurative of what heaven is like, being with others in the faith and being intimately close to them in communion.
          Now the rich man, the man who claimed to be a son of Abraham, but had no faith is in hell and ‘sees’ Abraham and Lazarus and is wants them to do him a favor. For simply being a “son of Abraham” doesn’t save anyone like being in a garage doesn’t make one a really awesome motorcycle or how eating in a nice Italian restaurant makes you Italian. The rich man knows Lazarus and didn’t help him while he had the chance but wants Lazarus to sacrifice himself to bring water to him. Here the Lord does an amazing reversal of what the story was like on earth. The rich man who knew no mercy on earth wants mercy shown to him as he is now the beggar. Even in hell the man has no idea why he’s there. The man loved his possessions more than helping others and more than the Lord.
          You do the same. You end up loving the money in your bank accounts and say, “It’s mine. You can’t have it. I’ve worked to hard for this to just give it away to some stupid charity.” You love your house and say “Look at what I own because of my hard work, because of my sacrifice for my family.” You love your furniture, car or van… the list is endless. The point being that you love the things given to you more than the one that gives them to you.
          You, me, we don’t use all of these gifts given to us for the benefit of others, only for ourselves. We don’t use the unrighteous mammon mentioned last week to help others. We as fallen, broken and deprived sinners want nothing more than to use our gifts for our own advantages and for our own pleasures. We don’t want to show mercy. Why should we want to help someone less fortunate than ourselves, we tell ourselves that it’s their fault they’re in the condition that they’re in.
          When we act like this, it’s only a matter of time before we convince ourselves that we’re more important… that Jesus Christ and His gifts given to us in His death and resurrection, in Baptism and in the Sacrament of the Altar don’t matter. We say things like, “Why worry about eternity when I have all the time in the world to do what I want to do?”
          The rich man thought that way. Why show mercy to Lazarus… he’s just a poor beggar. He’s not important to need the rich man’s help. He’s just a poor beggar with sores. I’m going to throw another feast and not give him anything. This is what ended up landing the rich man in hell. Loving his possessions more than God and what God calls us to do, which is to love our neighbors and to love God with all our heart, soul and being.
          Before I go any further I feel that I need to make this point clear. Jesus is not saying that because the rich man was rich and had good things in life he deserved to be in hell and anguish for all eternity. Conversely, He’s also not saying that because Lazarus was poor that he deserved to be in paradise for eternity. The point is that the rich man held up his earthly possessions instead of spiritual ones and demonstrated this throughout is life by not showing mercy to Lazarus. Lazarus also wasn’t saved because he was poor but because his trust was in God for all that he needs to sustain this body and life.
          Back to the point at hand. Why did the rich man, not realizing what he did to get to hell, want Abraham to warn his brothers? Why do we warn people when we do something stupid and don’t want to see them make the same mistake? Maybe the rich man loved his brothers; maybe he didn’t want to see them suffer like he was suffering. Then again, maybe not.
          For can the rich man want Abraham to send Lazarus back to tell his family about hell, if the rich man doesn’t know what he did to deserve it. The rich man is in hell because of unbelief. The man had no faith except for things of this world. This rich man is the same as the shrewd steward, only caring about mammon and the nobility that it provides in the eyes of others. In short, this rich man was acting just a Pharisee who loved their laws and possessions over the Word of God that was made flesh in their presence.
          The man is basically saying that God didn’t do His job as the man sees it. For if God did do His ‘job’ then the rich man wouldn’t be in hell, he’d instead be where he thinks he should be, either heaven or more likely, still living it up on earth with his buddies. The man wants a new means of salvation. He suggests that God could have saved him if He wanted to by only sending a dead man to tell him what hell was about. The rich man still doesn’t get it though. Even if God did send Lazarus back to earth then neither the brothers, nor the man himself, would have believed. Their external actions would have changed, but their hearts would have stayed the same. Focused on themselves and what they have to do to get saved.
          That is exactly how we all were before we were brought to faith in Jesus Christ alone by hearing the Scripture alone spoken into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We wanted nothing else than to be left to our devises. Even if you were baptized before you can remember, you still wanted nothing to do with God. You only wanted to do your own baby thing.
          But Christ changed that. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to have faith in Him and also for that faith to manifest itself into action. We’ve gone from being the man who was rich in the eyes of the world that became a beggar in hell to being the poor sinner begging for God’s mercy on earth and living richer than one can every imagine in the feast that is to come, the same feast that we will receive a foretaste of in a few minutes.
          We were the rich man, but through Christ we are now Lazarus. Unlike the rich man we don’t only have Moses and the Prophets, we also the Apostle’s writings and the Gospel accounts. These Gospel accounts are about the Gospel made flesh in Jesus Christ. We hear Him and read Him in the Word, we physically see Him and touch Him in the Sacrament. We partake of the forgiveness of sins that He alone gives and it is only through Him that we can show mercy to others and go from being the rich man in hell to being Lazarus in heaven. Amen    

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Tonight I was gonna make chicken enchiladas, but our tortillas were moldy and we bought them about a week ago. What’s up with that?

So instead of panicking, I decided to use some leftovers from the fridge and some of the ingredients for the enchiladas and make a pretty rockin’ casserole. So here’s the recipe, keep in mind that like all recipes this is just a road map not directions from point A to point B. For example: if you don’t have chicken or don’t like chicken but like pork then use pork.

about 1.5 cups of brown rice leftover in fridge
about 2 breasts of chicken from a rotisserie chicken that was cubed
.5 red pepper small dice
.5 yellow pepper small dice
.5 onion small dice
about 3 oz of cheddar cheese cubed
1 can of reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
2 tsp of cumin
1 small can of diced green chiles
salt and pepper to taste
a little bit of milk
butter and olive oil
several handfuls of tortilla chips

1. Put stove on medium, add some olive oil and butter into a casserole dish and soften the peppers and onion, stirring occasionally.
2. When soft add the chicken and heat for a few minutes.
3. Add the rice and soup. If it seems thin than add a splash of milk.
4. Add the cubed cheese a little bit at a time and lower the heat.
5. Add the chiles, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add a few handfuls of crushed tortillas and mix in. When mixed top the whole dish with a few more handfuls of chips.
7. Heat underneath a broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the chips on top.
8. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy.

Frequency of the Sacrament

Before I begin a little Preface. I was raised in a congregation that celebrated the Sacrament twice a month and on Holy Sundays (Easter, Christmas, Pentecost etc.) even if it wasn’t on the ‘normal’ week. I also understand, and in some ways, agree with the argument for having the Sacrament every Sunday. This is not true of everyone that you read on-line on their blogs. I wish that I was joking when I say that some pastors who weekly administer the Sacrament call pastors who administer the Sacrament every other week “Antinomians”. A little harsh there don’t you think? Conversely, there are pastors who administer the Sacrament every other week that call pastors who administer the Sacrament every week a “legalistic” such and such.

Why does this happen within our own Synod? One groups calls the other heretics, while the other calls them “legalistic.” There’s nothing like childish name calling to show the unity that we have in faith in Jesus Christ and in our Confessions.

Oh no, he just brought up the Confessions. Now why would he do that? Article XXIV:34-36 of the Augsburg Confession states, “Inasmuch, then, as the Mass is not a sacrifice to remove the sins of others, whether living or dead, but should be a Communion in which the priest and others receive the sacrament for themselves, it is observed among us in the following manner: On holy days, and at other times when communicants are present, Mass is held and those who desire it are communicated. Thus the Mass is preserved among us in its proper use, the use which was formerly observed in the church and which can be proved by St. Paul’s statement in I Cor. 11:20ff. and by many statements of the Fathers. For Chrysostom reports how the priest stood every day, inviting some to Communion and forbidding others to approach.

What does this mean? When the Augsburg Confession was presented to Emperor Charles V in the year 1530 many Roman Catholics were bashing Lutherans for not being catholic enough. They came up with all of these lies and misinformation about the celebration of the Mass that was taking place in these churches. As a response the Augsburg Confession is stating that Lutherans are no different than Roman Catholics at that time. The writers are showing that they are using the Mass as it had historically been done. However, now this is a big however, they are not saying that in order to be Lutheran and to believe this confession every church ‘has to’ administer the Sacrament every Sunday.

Luther and the other reformers chose to continue administering the Sacrament the same as the Roman Catholics so as not to be seen as contrary or as coming up with a new Christianity. They had no bone of contention about the frequency of the Sacrament for they knew that in the end the frequency of the Sacrament was purely adiaphora. Otherwise Luther in his own personal writings would have given a more concrete frequency. In the introduction to the Small Catechism he says no less than 4 times a year, in another, not as much as every day. So how frequent is frequent… does it matter?

That’s the real question, does the frequency of the Sacrament ultimately matter? No, because it is adiaphora. Scripture neither commands nor forbids administrating the Sacrament only every Sunday. Did the apostles? Yes. Was it their freedom in the Gospel to do so? Yes. Just like it’s our freedom to choose to administer the Sacrament weekly or bi-weekly.

Those who argue on either side that the other side are wrong are essentially saying that only pews that hold 10 people and have 5 hymnals per pew can be in our churches all others are heathens. Same goes for churches that have purple carpeting instead of green or have free-standing alters or railings made out of cherry instead of oak. If you use Divine Service 2 instead of Divine Service 1 then you can’t be in Synod and don’t share the same confession of faith as us Divine Service 1 users. Do you see how absurd that is? It makes no sense to disagree on matters of adiaphora and act like they’re matters which affect our salvation.

What’s gonna happen when we mandate certain frequencies of administration? Simple: the sacrament will go from being purely Gospel and Christ in our presence physically into something that is now Law based. We end up administering it weekly or bi-weekly because the Synod says so, or because the DP says so, or because so and so says so. The Sacrament no longer is Christ coming to us for forgiveness of sins (we’re the passive recipients) it is something that I have to do because someone is telling me to do it (we’re the active doers). Now that is a problem.

In the end both sides are acting stupidly about the whole issue of the frequency of the Sacrament. We have the same Confession we just disagree on an issue of adiaphora. Is that worth name calling? The last time I checked that’s one of the best reasons to be Lutheran. We can disagree on adiaphora, things that don’t affect our salvation, and can still be brothers and treat each other with respect and love and still agree on the big stuff.

Lest anyone doubt my commitment to the Book of Concord as the correct understanding of Scripture the AC: Article VII: Of the Church says “…”Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.” The frequency of the Sacrament is not mentioned, but I believe it fits because the frequency that one administers the Sacrament is human tradition and human choice, but just the frequency. The Sacrament is not a human anything, it is, has been and will always be totally God coming to us. The administration according to Christ’s command matters.

Luther’s Sermon Outline for Luke 16:19-31

Contents: Examples of Unbelief and of Faith

I. The example of unbelief in the rich man.
1. How and why we are not to look here at the external.
2. How we are to look at the internal; and there we find:
a. Unbelief
b. Lack of love.
3. How this example teaches that where there is no faith there is no love; and the reverse.
4. Many follow this example.
II. The examples of faith in Lazarus.
1. How and why we are not here to look at the external.
2. How and why we are in this example to look at the internal; and there we find:
a. Faith
b. Love
3. How this example still serves the whole world.
4. How reason and human wisdom are put to shame here.
5. How God still gives daily such examples; but the world does not esteem them.
6. All believers are like this example.
III. Some questions answered.
1. First Question: What is meant by Abraham’s bosom?
a. Of the hell where the rich man is.
2. Second Question: The nature of the conversation between Abraham and the rich man.
3. Third Question: When did the rich man experience the torments of hell and whether they continue to the present.
4. Fourth Question: Whether we should pray for the dead.
a. Opinion on the mass for the souls of the dead and on vigils.
b. Concerning rapping spirits and the appearance of departed souls.
1. An opinion on them
2. Two examples of rapping spirits being expelled.

You can read a full copy of the sermon here.

This outline comes from Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 2.2 pages 16-17