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“24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. … 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the tares for us. He, through His servants, sows the good seed. The field is the world. The good seeds are the children of the kingdom of God; but the tares (or darnel) are the children of the devil, the evil one.

Jesus, through His faithful ministers, sows the pure seed of the Gospel in this world and thus produces true believers who repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation, and are, therefore, members of His eternal kingdom. These are the good seeds, or the wheat.

But in the same field where the true Gospel is proclaimed and produces Christians, the devil and his false prophets sow error and false doctrine which produce false Christians. These may appear to be genuine Christians, but they do not repent of their sinful ways and have saving faith in Jesus Christ, and their fruits or works are unacceptable to the Lord God.

In this world — and even within the outward visible church — true believers and false, unbelieving hypocrites continue to dwell side by side until the day of judgment. Then God’s holy angels will separate the false believers from the true.

Those whose religion did not spring up from the good seed of the Gospel will be separated from the true believers, gathered up, and cast into the eternal fires of hell! But those whose faith comes from the pure Gospel — who despair of their own righteousness and trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for eternal salvation, who also as a fruit of that faith produce fruit acceptable in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake — will be taken to heaven where they will live with Christ in righteousness and purity forever!

This is a warning to us that, wherever the Gospel is sown and true believers are in this world, the devil will also sow his lies and false teaching to lead people into false security and hope based on their own works and righteousness or upon some other lie or deception of the evil one. They may appear to be a part of Christ’s church in this world but they are not. They remain impenitent and unbelieving. In the end, they will be gathered up and cast into the fires of hell!

Only those who hear God’s Word, repent of their sins, and trust in Christ and His blood shed upon the cross for all will be gathered up by God’s angels and given eternal life in heaven!

Let us hold fast to Jesus Christ and continue in His saving Word lest we also be misled by the working of the evil one!

Defend Thy truth, O God, and stay this evil generation; and from the error of its way keep Thine own congregation. The wicked everywhere abound and would Thy little flock confound; but Thou art our Salvation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, #260, Verse 6)

[Scripture is quoted from the King James version of the Bible.]

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“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” John 1:35-37

We may not count it important to just point people to Jesus, but that is what John the Baptist did. He was standing with two of his disciples when Jesus walked by, and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

The Lamb of God is that one foreshadowed by the ram caught by its horns in a thicket that was the substitute God provided to be offered up to the LORD in the place of Abraham’s son Isaac (cf. Gen. 22:1-19). The Lamb of God is that one foreshadowed by the paschal lamb whose blood was put upon the two door posts and the lintel of each Israelite home that the angel of death might pass over and not kill the firstborn of the Israelites when God carried out His judgment upon the Egyptians (Ex. 12:1-28). The Lamb of God was foreshadowed by the many unblemished lambs offered for generations to make atonement for the sins of the people (cf. Lev. 1).

Jesus is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (v. 29). He is sinless and unblemished, having fulfilled all the righteous demands of God’s law in our place (cf. Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). And Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The LORD God laid our sin and iniquity upon Jesus, punishing Him in our stead (cf. Isa. 53:6; 1 John 2:2). Therefore, when we look in faith to Jesus, the crucified and risen Lamb of God, we sinners have forgiveness and life — He paid in full for the sins of the whole world!

So also today, we who know Jesus can direct others to Him, telling them to look to Jesus, that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Look to Jesus! He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world! He paid in full for mankind’s sins when He suffered and died on the cross. He rose from the dead and lives, and all who look to Him in faith for forgiveness and life eternal are graciously pardoned and received into God’s everlasting family.

Through John’s witness, the two disciples of John followed Jesus to learn more about Him. Through the Gospel witness of believers in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit works to bring others to Jesus so that they too might know Him and trust in Him as their sacrifice for sin, their Redeemer and Savior!

As the two disciples of John heard John’s witness concerning Jesus and followed Him to learn more, so also today, people directed to Jesus by your witness and mine may be called by God’s Spirit to come to Jesus, learn of Him, and believe in His name. We may not be able to preach like John the Baptist; but we can still tell people to look to Jesus, for He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

In Jesus the Messiah, God offers forgiveness and life everlasting to all. Look to Jesus, for in Him you will find mercy and forgiveness. In Him, you will find eternal life!

O dearest Jesus, thank You for going to the cross and bearing the guilt and punishment for all my sins. Grant that I also might point others to You so that they too might follow You, learn of You, and receive forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 (read John 1:29-34)

Who is Jesus? What did John the Baptist testify concerning Him? John called Him “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

He said, “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:30-34).

John’s testimony — revealed to him by the Holy Spirit — was that Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, come into the world a true man to redeem all mankind from sin and its consequences.

Like the Passover lamb of the Old Testament whose blood was shed and placed upon the lintel and door posts of the houses in which God’s people dwelt so that the LORD would pass over them when He came in judgment against the Egyptians, so the blood of Christ, the sinless Son of God — the blood of a Lamb without blemish and without spot shed upon the cross to take away the guilt and punishment for the sins of all the world — when it is placed upon us by faith, cleanses us from all sins, delivers us from God’s judgment and guarantees us eternal life in heaven (cf. Exo. 12; Isa. 53:6; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; 1 John 1:7 — 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Eph. 1:6-7; Rev. 1:5; 7:13-17)!

As John directed his own followers to look to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, so we still preach and point people to Jesus, the Lamb of God, today. Why? Because He suffered and died for all sins and rose again (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3-4). He satisfied God’s just wrath against the sins of all. He suffered the full punishment for your sins and mine! He won forgiveness and life eternal for you, for me, and for all that we might look to Him in faith and take shelter under His blood, shed on the cross for the sins of the world! (Cf. 1 John 2:1-2.)

Because Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, took all our sins upon Himself and suffered and died to bear our punishment, we have the assurance that, on the Last Day, all who trust in Jesus and have their sins washed away in His blood will with their eyes behold the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. We will see His face and dwell in His presence forevermore! (Cf. Psalm 17:15; Job 19:25-27.)

O LORD God, we thank You for providing a substitute for us, the holy and sinless Son of God, that He might take on our flesh, fulfill all righteousness for us and then suffer and die to pay for the sins of the world. Grant us faith in Him, that our sins may be washed away in His shed blood. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

How can the Gospel save sinful human beings like you and me?

Luther struggled with this passage of God’s Word and with this question because he viewed the righteousness of God, which the Gospel reveals (v. 17), to be the just anger and punishment of God upon sin! The more Luther read and studied the Scriptures, the more he saw his own sinfulness and inability to live up to the demands of a righteous and holy God.

This is what had before prompted him to enter the monastery and become a monk; he sought to somehow appease the wrath of a righteous and holy God. And now, through his study of the Scriptures, he realized more and more his failings. Before he understood the Gospel, Luther thought the Gospel condemned him and all other sinners to eternal suffering in hell.

Through the study of the Scriptures, the Holy Ghost revealed the true meaning of this passage to Luther; and it gave him great joy, for an unbearable burden was lifted from him. The Gospel was not the revelation of God’s anger and punishment upon sin. Rather, it reveals the righteousness of God which is imputed to sinners who look in faith to Christ Jesus’ holy life in our stead and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross to atone for the sins of the world.

“Therein [in the Gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith“ (v.17).

The Law reveals our sinfulness and the just wrath of God against our sins; the Gospel reveals Christ’s keeping of the Law in our stead, His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for our sins, and God’s pardon and forgiveness which He offers and gives to believers for Christ’s sake (cf. Rom. 3:19-26).

To Luther was revealed the glorious truth that, though he was a sinner condemned by God’s Law and without any true righteousness acceptable in God’s eyes; yet, through faith in Jesus Christ, God counted him holy, righteous, and acceptable in His sight. God had made him, a sinner, “accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

This is a righteousness that is of faith rather than of works; and it is revealed to faith, which God the Holy Ghost creates in men’s hearts through the Gospel (v. 17). This is verified by the Old Testament Scriptures (Hab. 2:4); for those who are just in God’s eyes and are alive to God live by faith in God’s grace and mercy for Christ’s sake. They trust that God accepts them and forgives their sins for the sake of the Messiah and Savior, and so they are alive to God and live for Him.

It is not the proud and self-reliant one who lives to God; it is the one who humbly acknowledges his sins and trusts in God to forgive him for the sake of Christ’s bitter sufferings and death in his stead. This one lives in faith and receives God’s gracious gift of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

Today also, so many view the Gospel of Jesus Christ as another law, telling us how we should live and what will happen to us if we fail. People believe that they must do certain works or live a certain lifestyle in order to please God and receive life eternal in heaven.

We, too, tend to think this way! However, no matter how hard people try, they can never be certain they have done enough or lived well enough. And, if they study the Scriptures, they will see that they come far short and deserve only the righteous wrath and condemnation of God. Even their best works are “as filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6).

But when the Holy Ghost, through the hearing of His Word, reveals to us today the true meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we like Luther will have great joy — a tremendous weight and burden will be lifted from us — for we will then know that salvation is God’s free gift to us in His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23). We will come to know that Jesus Christ has fulfilled all the righteous demands of God’s Law for us, and that He has suffered and died for us, bearing the just punishment for our sins, and that He has risen again in victory.

We will come to know and live through faith that, in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness for all sins and the eternal joys of heaven!

O Holy Spirit, grant that we hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and learn of the righteousness You impute to sinners who repent of their sinful ways and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for pardon, forgiveness, and life everlasting. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.” John 1:19-28

Who was John the Baptist? He confessed that he was not the Christ, he was not Elijah, nor was he the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

Who was John the Baptist? He himself said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias” (Cf. Isa. 40:3).

John was the messenger of God sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6; Luke 1:76-79; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13). He prepared people for the coming of the Lord Jesus by calling upon all to repent of their sins and turn to the LORD God for forgiveness and life through faith in the Messiah who was about to appear and be offered up a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (cf. Luke 3:1ff.; John 1:29).

Who are we as Christ’s Church in this world? What are we and all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be in this world?
We are not the Christ and do not point to ourselves as the way of life, but we are a “voice … crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.”

Through our called ministers, we continue to call upon all to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and to look in faith to Christ Jesus, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We point people to Jesus, the only Hope and Savior of this lost and dying world!

Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Soon He will appear in the clouds with all His holy angels and every eye will see Him (cf. Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:29ff.)!

Until then, we continue to be God’s voice, His witness, calling on all people to repent and believe on the LORD Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; 3:19-21). In Jesus’ shed blood, there is forgiveness and life everlasting for all who repent and look to Him in faith for salvation (cf. John 3:14-18)!

Dear LORD Jesus Christ, grant us Your Holy Spirit and embolden us to be Your voice in this world, calling on all to repent and trust in You for forgiveness and life everlasting! Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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