First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

December 30, 2018

Luke 2:33-34

Divine Service

Lutheran Service Book (LSB) hymnal

Opening Hymn    797 Praise the Almighty

The Service of the Word p. 184


The Confession of Sins

The Absolution

The Psalm           89:1-9                

The Gloria Patri

The Kyrie p. 186

The Gloria in Excelsis

The Salutation and Collect p. 189

The Old Testament (See Printed Scriptures below)

The Epistle   

The Gospel              

Glory be to Thee, O Lord!

Praise be to Thee, O Christ!

The Nicene Creed p. 191

Hymn of the Day 389 Let All Together Praise Our God      

The Sermon

The Holy Spirit has written: 33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them.  Thus far the text.

Let us pray: Gracious Father, who gave Simeon to speak marvelous words about Jesus in the temple.  Joseph and Mary believed and received a blessing. Grant us to believe Your Word and receive Your blessing.  In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Joseph and Mary have heard prophecies said of their Child before Simeon.

The angel, Gabriel, said to (Mary), “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” and again he said “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  and again he said to Mary “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Mary believed what Gabriel solemnly declared in her hearing.

Also, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Joseph believed what Gabriel solemnly declared in his hearing.

Now, it is 40 days later.  It is the time for Mary’s purification by offering a sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or a pair of young pigeons at the temple.  

Simeon appears, aged and holy.  Think of Simeon as all the prophets rolled into one.  The prophets all wanted to see this day.

Simeon says, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Lk 2:29–32.

Joseph and Mary do what?  They marvel. They continued to believe the Gospel.  For the Gospel is nothing but a sermon whose theme is Christ.  Gabriel, Simeon, the whole host of angels and the shepherds, the wise men all come to Joseph and Mary and preached the Gospel.  Joseph and Mary believe.

There were many in the temple that day.  Many heard the words of Simeon. How many believed?  A few. Joseph, Mary, Simeon, and Anna all received the Gospel with joy and wonder.  The Evangelist Luke, is therefore also rebuking the the unbelieving Jewish people because this sermon was preached publicly in the temple.  It is also good for us to hear the Word of God gladly. The Gospel will have its effect by producing good works in us.

What does it mean for us to bring Christ into the temple?  Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple, the house of God where He promised He could be found.  Today, you won’t find Jesus is the remains of that temple, torn down in 70AD. He now promises to be found in His Scriptures.

Let us follow the example of those mentioned in Act 17:11.  After they received the Word of God with all readiness of mind, they went into the Holy Scriptures, daily examining them to see if what they heard was true or not.

For us, Simeon represents all the Old Testament prophets wrapped into one.  All those prophets waited for this day, just like Simeon waited. St. Peter says all those prophets spoke about this day (Acts 3:24).  Christ Himself says in Matthew 11:13 that all the law and the prophets prophesied until John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan river.

All this was signified by Simeon who was not going to die until he had seen Christ.  None of the prophets saw Christ.  He wasn’t born yet.

But Moses did say, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” Dt 18:15.  

And Isaiah also said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily”  Is 28:16.

Simeon gently held Jesus in his arms.  He saw what all the old prophets wanted to see.  Jesus. The Christ.

The text does not say the Joseph and Mary marveled at the saying of Simeon.  Rather, they marveled at all those things that were spoken of Jesus.  

Simeon represents all those prophets that said all those things recorded in the Old Testament.  Joseph and Mary believed all those things.

Joseph and Mary represent the whole church.  All those who believe all those things.  Like you.  You believe all those things said of Jesus in the Old Testament.  You marvel at all those sayings of the prophets because they so beautifully and precisely apply to Christ.  Those prophets speak so highly of Christ and so beautifully demonstrate the whole truth of the Gospel.  There is no greater delight than to experience this beauty when reading and hearing the Holy Scriptures.

But not all marvel at those sayings.  And not all believe those sayings apply to Christ.  The great multitude despise Simeon and all the prophets.  Even today, the church is the butt of jokes, Christians are depicted as old-fashioned or dumb.  

But not you. You marvel at all those things said of Jesus just like Joseph and Mary.

And you believe what they say. Thanks be to God that this Child, born so lowly, would accomplish your salvation by His mighty works and resurrection from the dead; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard and keep you in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

The Offertory p. 192

Prayer of the Church

The Service of the Sacrament


Sanctus p. 195

The Lord’s Prayer p. 196

The Words of Our Lord p. 197

The Pax Domini

The Agnus Dei p. 198


Distribution Hymns

656 A Mighty Fortress

636 Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness

406 To Jordan Came the Christ

750 If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee

The Nunc Dimittis p. 199

The Thanksgiving p. 200

The Salutation

The Benedicamus p. 201

The Benediction p 202

Closing Hymn 578 Thy Srong Word

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

First Sunday after Christmas

Galatians 4:1-7

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.


It is written in Galatians chapter 4: I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Thus far the text.


Let us Pray: Abba Father, who respects people who are justified by faith before You are pleased with their actions, keep us steadfast in believing in Jesus that we may always be Your sons and heirs forever more; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.


Galatians is a letter Paul wrote quickly in his own hand, crushing the outbreak of false doctrine in that congregation. Lutherans have always treasured the epistle as  a powerful declaration of justification by faith, "the Chief Article of the Christian Religion, the master and prince" of all other doctrinal matters, as Luther wrote.


Moreover, Luther wrote two commentaries on Galatians, the second one as his final say on justification by faith. This commentary was so important to the Book of Concord editors that they commended Luther's commentary twice - for readers wanting to know more about the topic.


In case anyone wonders about the Book of Concord's attitude, the section on justification is called "The Righteousness of Faith" in the Formula of Concord.


Going back 50 years earlier, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, written by Melanchthon, has a long section on justification by faith, which reflects upon the Augsburg Confession, #4  and #5.



This lesson is extremely important because the Antinomians (Anti-Law, literally) have misused it to promote their cause. That is not a side issue, because Universal Objective Justification (justification without faith) is another version of the Antinomian argument. The Antinomians say that "now we have Christ and the Gospel, so the Law is obsolete."


So their favorite passage needs to be restored to its clarity, to defeat their false claims. This chapter builds upon the classic one used for the Antinomian cause -


Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.


24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.


Paul is countering the false claims that Christians must be observant of Jewish law to be real Christians. After all, Jesus and the disciples were all Jews, and the Gospel is based on Old Testament Promises being fulfilled.


Against that, Paul preached that the Gospel alone converts and does not require someone to come from a background of Jewish observances.


KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.


This is a parable, offering a little story about the difference between being under the Law and under the Gospel, and it reflects the earlier passage about the schoolmaster. A child of wealth or influence is no better than a servant of his father when he is still in school, still being tutored. All of them are subordinate to the system and have to follow the rules. Some think they are above the rules because of their importance.


24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.


This is Paul's argument to keep the Galatians from returning to salvation based on obedience to the Law. The Antinomians have turned this into making the Law obsolete. In the modern version, everyone is born forgiven and will be forgiven all future sins. This eliminates repentance and the Means of Grace. One illustration is from WELS Meditations -


"WELS Meditations, March-May 2014, for Monday, 17 March 2014.   "No matter what you did yesterday -- or failed to do -- and no matter what you will do tomorrow, God has forgiven you."

The Eduard Preuss quotation, states that everyone in the world is born forgiven. Everyone.


But Galatians does not say this - nor does any passage in the Bible. Why would we baptize infants if they were born forgiven and already saved? Why confess sins that are already forgiven?


The modern version of Antinomianism (anti-law) proves that no one escapes the Law of the Antinomians. They condemn and excommunicate those who deny and reject their modern nonsense. During Luther's lifetime, Agricola the Antinomian, constantly agitated against Luther.


The Law Shows us Our need for the Savior, so the Law is spiritual (from the Holy Spirit), useful, and good. The Law is a brief way of saying the entire universe was created by God, so those principles are part of everything we do. People have shown that they bring themselves to grief by saying they are above or beyond the Law. They damage many others, too, who suffer from the Antinomian illusion of being too mature, wise, or noble for the Law.


3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:


Paul means to say that the Law is something material, mundane, earthly. It may restrain evil, but it does not deliver from sin. The Law does not justify; it does not bring a person to heaven. I do not obtain eternal life because I do not kill, commit adultery, steal, etc. Such mere outward decency does not constitute Christianity. The heathen observe the same restraints to avoid punishment or to secure the advantages of a good reputation.

On a lower level, the Law restrains our behavior, and we can see that in effect across all cultures. But the higher level of the Law accuses our conscience, so we feel guilt and seek the comfort of forgiveness and salvation.


But the Law does not bring comfort and forgiveness, as Luther wrote so eloquently-


...the Law has nothing to do with justification. If it thrusts its nose into the business of justification we must talk harshly to the Law to keep it in its place. The conscience ought not to be on speaking terms with the Law. The conscience ought to know only Christ. To say this is easy, but in times of trial, when the conscience writhes in the presence of God, it is not so easy to do. As such times we are to believe in Christ as if there were no Law or sin anywhere, but only Christ. We ought to say to the Law: "Mister Law, I do not get you. You stutter so much. I don't think that you have anything to say to me."


When it is not a question of salvation or justification with us, we are to think highly of the Law and call it "holy, just, and good." (Romans 7: 12) The Law is of no comfort to a stricken conscience. Therefore it should not be allowed to rule in our conscience, particularly in view of the fact that Christ paid so great a price to deliver the conscience from the tyranny of the Law. Let us understand that the Law and Christ are impossible bedfellows. The Law must leave the bed of the conscience, which is so narrow that it cannot hold two, as Isaiah says, chapter 28, verse 20.


4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.


This verse is clearly a Virgin Birth passage, because the point is assumed rather than argued. That was already known in Paul's circles, so there was no need to repeat the obvious. But it is restated in another form - God sent forth His Son - divine nature, born of a woman, born under the Law - human nature. This God-Man redeemed those born under the Law, paying the price for their sins.


This is the great message of the Gospel, that the power of the Law was overcome by the Savior born under the Law. This came about in the fullness of time. God prepared His people for centuries and provided a Savior for them who would convert many of His own people (though He was rejected by the great and wise) and send forth the Gospel across the Roman Empire.


Through the Means of Grace, Jesus transcended all governments to establish His Kingdom, which continues to grow as new souls are added and new lands conquered for the Gospel.


6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.


This is the Holy Communion passage, in a sense, because Paul refers to the Lord's Prayer, which was traditionally reserved for closed communion, when all others were ushered out of church. (Traditions vary, of course)  The importance is shown by the Lord's Prayer in Matthew, Luke, and Romans 8:15 as well.  This shows the pure grace of God, since this forgiveness comes to us through faith in Jesus, not through works of the Law; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


The peace of God (which…) guard and protect you through Jesus, Our Savior.