Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer: August 6, 2023

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

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — “I Desire to Show Mercy and Not to Receive Your Sacrifices” (Hosea 6:6/Matthew 9:13) The hatred that Jesus experienced by many throughout His earthly ministry was centered in a rejection of the Gospel of God’s mercy. The impenitent and the self-righteous despised Jesus’ mercy for the sinner. They did not believe that sinners were worthy; and if you were suffering an affliction of the body, they believed that you had done something to deserve it. The truth is: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The call to repentance and faith in Jesus is a call to reject all self-reliance, confess your sins, and cling to Jesus for the gift of mercy that comes by grace alone. He desires to show mercy to us all and not to receive our sacrifices. None of us could atone for our sin or make up for what we have done. Christian faith clings to Jesus and His love for us. Out of this repentant faith, all good fruits flow. The irony concerning those who hated Jesus for His ministry of mercy, is that they hated the one who truly loved them and desired to be their Savior. This week’s Bible readings from Matthew highlight the Lord’s mercy and the phenomena of impenitence that rejects His mercy. In Two Blind Men Receive Their Sight, we hear the simple prayer of the penitent, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” When Jesus Cleanses the Temple, He does so because the Jews had turned the order of salvation upside down. Instead of God providing for them through the sacrifices that He made for their salvation upon the cross, they adopted the works-righteous view that they could pay for their sins by their own sacrifices. Instead of the Temple sacrifices pointing to their fulfillment in Christ, they believed that they were a liturgy of salvation by works. The Fruitless Fig Tree is an illustration of how this “works-righteous faith” of Israel resulted in no true fruit of repentance and faith in God’s mercy. Therefore, they were under the curse. The Parable of the Two Sons contrasts faith in the Father’s mercy in Christ in the reception of the call to repentance versus impenitence and unbelief that refuses the call to repentance. The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers is an illustration of Israel’s history in the Old Testament. He sent them prophet after prophet to call them to repentance and faith in His mercy, but they rejected and persecuted them all. In the end, they persecuted and martyred the Father’s Son. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Finally, our week ends with The Parable of the Wedding Feast. In this parable we see the idolatry of setting one’s affections on the things of this world, rather than the free gift of salvation in the King’s Son. The ministers of the King go out into the highways and byways to call both “bad and good” to the wedding feast of salvation. It must be received as a gift of God’s mercy in Christ, or it cannot be received at all. Only those who are clothed with the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness can enter into the feast.CP230806