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The Treasury today quotes Luther's sermons on the Gospel according to St. John saying, "This ministry (that is, the Word of God, Baptism, and Holy Communion) will endure and is not to be replaced by any other. But the incumbents of this ministry do not remain; they die." (treasury 197).
Isn't it great, that our Lord loves us so much that He instituted the Office of the Holy Ministry. We have the Apostles, the early church fathers, the preachers of the Medieval Church, Luther, Walther, and every pastor of the 20th century that handed over the gifts of the cross to every sinner called as saints. Our Lord Christ continues to call and place men into the Office of the Holy Ministry to baptize, preach the Gospel, absolve, distribute the Supper, and teach the faith. The ministry will endure into the Ages of Ages, as we read in Matthew 28. However, the men who preach the Gospel come and go. Why is this a blessing? Why is it beneficial for us not to have one preacher for 1,000 years?
Why is it for our benefit that Jesus uses sinful, mortal men that die as His ambassadors? Well, it helps us walk in the 1st commandment. Imagine, if you had one pastor for your whole life. He baptizes you, confirms you, presides over your wedding, baptizes and confirms children and grandchildren. How will you see this man? Well, you will love him and take solace in him, which is a good thing. However, the Old Adam will treat him as if he is god, rather than the one who stands in the stead of God. If St. Peter lived forever, we would be worshiping St. Peter, James, or John, rather than the one that they were sent to proclaim. Jesus kills pastors so that the saints don't misplace their trust and assurance. Our trust is in the one that the Pastor proclaims, not in the pastor himself. That is why the pastor wears his clerical collar and vests himself for the services, to assert that it is not about him, but all about Jesus for you. The person remains the same, meaning Jesus, but the faces of every man who proclaims Jesus changes. What a blessing for us, that our Lord loves us so much that He will remove any obstacle that gets in the way of hearing the forgiveness of our sins in the preaching of the Gospel and the reception of the sacraments. What a blessing that pastors continue to be called and placed into the ministry, but also that they die as well, so that while they are alive we hear the Gospel, and when they are in the ground, we continue to hear the same message from a different mouth.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I love you. I forgive you. I claim you as my own forever," Amen,