For Christ is the destruction of death itself “before the foundation of the world,” and even now by faith, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” has blessed us in Christ “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3–4).
HYMNS FOR THE WEEK
- Opening Hymn |“By All Your Saints in Warfare” (LSB 518)
- Hymn of the Day |“Jesus Priceless Treasure” (LSB 743)
- Closing Hymn |“Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” (LSB 917)
- Communion Distribution Hymns
of APOSTLES’ Tide
The Lord Jesus Brings His People through Death into Life by the Preaching of Repentance.
Amos did not choose to be a prophet, but the Lord took him “from following the flock” and said to him, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:15). It was a hard word given him to preach: King Jeroboam would “die by the sword,” and Israel would “go into exile away from his land” (Amos 7:10–11). For this word, Amos was hated and threatened. St. John the Baptist also suffered for his faithful preaching of repentance. King Herod “sent and seized John and bound him in prison,” even though he knew that John “was a righteous and holy man” (Mark 6:17, 20). Out of pride and fear, Herod “sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head” (Mark 6:27). Yet in Christ, St. John the Baptist “has been raised from the dead” (Mark 6:14, 16). For Christ is the destruction of death itself “before the foundation of the world,” and even now by faith, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” has blessed us in Christ “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3–4). Through Baptism into Christ, you also “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” for life and salvation (Eph. 1:13).
In today’s Gospel, “Herod had sent and seized John and bound him in prison.” Then “the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head.” Gee, I wonder if God knew about that.
Last weekend we celebrated our nation’s July 4th Independence Day. Independence Day is primarily about our collective freedom and shared independence from foreign rule. Yet Independence Day celebrates also the great and many individual freedoms that we personally enjoy.
St. John the Baptist wants to know in today’s Gospel, for all of your inalienable rights and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, are you really free—and do you really want to be?
There are many ways that you could look at your life and picture yourself, not as free, but as imprisoned. Most of these prisons lack appeal, and you probably would escape them if you could:
Some people feel imprisoned by an inescapable loneliness or grief, brought about the events of their lives. You did not plan to be widowed or divorced and you do not want to be—but there you are, thrown into a situation completely beyond your control.
Some people feel imprisoned by habitual sins they cannot find the willpower to escape. It is not that you have not prayed for deliverance. You just can’t shake the taste.
Some people feel themselves imprisoned by fear. This pandemic has caused many people to be fearful. FORO – Fear Of Running Out – caused many to stockpile sanitizing supplies and paper products, like toilet paper. People who needed alcohol swabs for glucose monitoring or insulin injections could not find any because people without diabetes were buying them up for their personal sanitizing. Others afraid of COVID stayed locked in their houses for months and months – some still not emerging.
They were imprisoned by fear, and they are not the only people who suffer from their fears.
Loneliness, sin, and fear: it would seem that these are the prisons people would surely want to escape, if only they could. These sorts of prisons—all of them created by sin—make certain passages from God’s Holy Scriptures sound especially good, if not musical. Prisoners in these sorts of prisons can find special nourishment, for example in Jesus’ Words from St. Luke chapter 4, “He sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and… to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Or what about the song that David sang, “The LORD… does not despise His own people who are prisoners” (Psalm 69:33).