Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer: July 30, 2023

The Catechism: The Lord’s Prayer—The First Petition

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Strength and Comfort of the Grace of God — “How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seen times?” This is the question that Peter asks Jesus which inspires the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The liberality with which Jesus forgave sin and received sinners demonstrated the kind of grace that Peter had never seen in any other teacher. Jesus’ answer drives the disciples to understand that the grace of God in Christ is even greater than we can imagine. In the parable, the kingdom of God’s grace is represented by forgiveness for a debt that is impossible for the servant to ever repay. Our sin is an impossible debt before God. But in Christ it has been forgiven! If, therefore, we refuse forgiveness to a brother (who owes us far less than we have been forgiven by God) we deny the grace of God and reject the forgiveness that we ourselves have received from Christ. God’s grace in Christ is our only strength and comfort. When Jesus Teaches on Marriage and Divorce, we are to understand that it is the strength and comfort of God’s forgiving grace in Christ that alone makes it possible for us to be faithful in marriage. It is God’s grace that is on display when Jesus Blesses the Children. They could do nothing to receive His blessing but were given the blessing of forgiveness and life with Jesus as a pure gift. The kingdom of God must be received as a gift by all of us, or it cannot be received at all. The “gift character” of the Christian faith is something that the Rich Young Ruler could not grasp because he trusted in his own works for salvation. The one thing he lacked was repentant faith in Christ that trusted in Him alone for salvation. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is a parable of pure grace as illustrated in the various “workers in the vineyard” who are all “paid” exactly the same wage. Since Christ has paid the debt of salvation for each of us, it can only be received as a gift. In Jesus Predicts His Passion a Third Time, we learn that it is the atonement for sin by Christ upon the cross that is the foundation for the grace of God. Christ died in sacrificial love for us. His atonement won forgiveness for all our sin, and it is this forgiving grace of God in Christ that is at the center of all Christian theology and our only strength and comfort in life and in death.CP2307300