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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: May 30, 2023

In our reading from Luke this morning, Jesus and his disciples have just finished the meal we call the Last Supper and they are about to depart from the upper room and make the journey to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus will be betrayed by one of his own and handed over to his enemies to be put to death. The unbelieving world has made its decision about Jesus. The Jews have rejected him as their Messiah. And the Gentiles will soon join them in their rejection by heaping mockery and contempt upon Jesus and hanging him on a cross where he will fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by being “numbered with the transgressors.”

In all this, we see that unbelief, when it finally hardens, always begets rage and violence directed toward those who continue to bear witness to the truth. We see it through Cain’s murderous rage against his brother. We see it in Saul’s jealous pursuit and persecution of David. We see it in the persecution and mistreatment of God’s prophets. Ultimately, we see the world’s hatred of the truth culminate in their violent treatment of Christ. And, since no servant is greater than his master, Jesus’ disciples can expect to receive the same treatment.

That’s what Jesus is saying to his disciples when he tells them that, from now one, they will need to be well-provisioned and supplied for their mission. The first time he sent them out they were able to rely upon the general expectations of hospitality commonly given to strangers. But now that hospitality will give way to hostility. And Jesus tells them that they must be prepared to endure the same scorn and mistreatment that he is about to endure.

So should all of us be walking around carrying moneybags, and backpacks, and swords? Well, not exactly. Jesus’ point is simply that his disciples should not expect to receive the world’s hospitality and protection when they are faithfully bearing the confession “Jesus is Lord” on their lips. The blood of the martyrs often turns out to be the seed of the Church. The sword we are to carry and wield as Christians is not one made of steel, rather we are to arm ourselves with the sword of the Spirit—with the word of God that is active and living—that is sharper than any sword made with human hands—so sharp that it can pierce through even the most hardened of defenses and cut through even the most tangled web of the enemy’s lies.

You can never be better prepared to encounter the world’s hostility for being a Christian than to be armed with a faithful confession of the truth. That’s why we have such a treasure in the Small Catechism. Our confessions rightly describe the Small Catechism as a “layman’s Bible” because in the Catechism we are taught everything which a Christian must know for his salvation. In the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and in the teachings on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Holy Absolution we have more riches than can be carried in moneybags, more supplies than can be toted around in a backpack, and more protection against the schemes of the devil than can be provided by a sword.

So as we journey through this world as Christ’s disciples and as we encounter the hatred and hostility of the unbelieving world, may we follow Luther’s advice and always remain students of the catechism our entire lives so that we may make a bold and faithful confession of Christ our Savior.

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