The Glory Has Departed

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on

NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

which works as too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lasagna Gardening - Grumpy Gardeners Say - "Tain't New!"

Lasagna is so much more intriguing than sheet mulching,
which is - of course - sheet composting.

 Shewell-Cooper is my favorite British gardening guru:
he showed that compost left on top of the soil
will be pulled down by worms.

I kept getting emails about Lasagna Gardening, originating from the Rodale Organic Gardening people.

One person responded to someone who complained - this was not new but old - from Ruth Stout of mulching fame -

3/7/2009 4:50:37 PM
This article was reprinted, largely without change (including graphics) and absolutely without attribution at:

bill in detroit
3/7/2009 4:46:42 PM
And Ruth Stout was preceded by the Irish who were preceded by ... who were preceded by ... your point is? This information isn't, obviously, passed down through some sort of 'cosmic consciousness'. Many who have never heard of Ruth Stout will learn about this technique from Patricia Lanza ... and whoever follows her. @Stacey ... read the article again. The process uses several layers and is based on decomposition, not soil, for its success. But be encouraged, you only need to continue the process for it to be effective. The higher the stack is in the fall, the better the garden is in the summer.

Here is another Lasagna Gardening article from The Spruce.

Feeling like I discovered the Lost Dutchman's Goldmine, I wanted to lay a claim too - for Creation Gardening.

 Creation Gardening: By Him Were All Things Made

But as calmer gardeners will admit - using organic matter to improve the soil is as old as the ancient Egyptians, who made harming an earthworm a capital offense. They realized what pulled organic matter into their soil.

I am glad they are promoting Lasagna Gardening, because it is another way to describe no-till methods based purely on building up the soil instead of whirling it around like a tossed salad.

Our entire front yard was developed this way. The first layers were cardboard and newspapers, topped by shredded cyprus mulch. The rich clay soil was improved with leaves, the roots of all the new plants, and Uncle Jim's red wiggler earthworms.

I discovered, as one Lasagna gardener did, that good plants left alone and swarmed by weeds would still produce. I had roses that bloomed well when surrounded by weeds. However, that was not my favorite setting for them.

I also discovered that divided forces do not work well. I planted a second rose garden, and that divided my efforts all the time.

Lessons that developed from experience, reading, and YouTube are:

  • Compost is good, but heavy, so why not compost on the spot?
  • Sod makes the best compost, so why not plant in it and mulch the surrounding grass into compost?
  • A large rose garden mulched with shredded wood will produce great roses and incredible grassy weeds - thus groundcovers are needed.
  • Fungus and bacteria are really the foundations of great soil, so all life above them depend on those perfectly created, engineered, and managed life forms. If you make a point not to kick out the computer network plug, how much careful should you be to keep the fungus network in place?
  • The Carbon Cowboys/Covercrop farmers taught me how valuable deep roots are for improving the soil
  • Jessica Walliser wrote the classic on beneficial bugs, a concept my mother taught all of us kids long ago in Moline. 
  • Birds and bugs go well together, but birds should be fed near the most used windows. Squirrels add to the entertainment.
  • The Jackson EZ Bird Swing is easily assembled and great fun for birds and squirrels.
  • There is no such thing as a squirrel-proof bird-feeder, so just get over it. Given enough feeding stations, everyone will be happy.
  • Generous amounts of water are good for birds and also encourage such pest-predators as toads. 
  • Never haul organics out of the yard. Carry them into the yard and recycle garden trash after the winter is over.

 Those Days on the Farm

Creation Gardening - Many Shares and Likes on Facebook

 A great time for bird-watching is the winter,
when they scramble for food in the garden
and on the bird-feeders.

Graphic by Norma Boeckler

When I made a Facebook page for Creation Gardening, I thought that the name would surely have been taken. But no, nothing like that came up until recently.

I double-post blog essays, so most readers read them from my main page and while others favor the Creation Gardening page, which only has gardening posts.

I am almost in the dream season, when no work can be done outside, but rose catalogues arrive faster than Medicare plan mailings.

At the moment, we are enjoying warm, sunny days and 40 degree nights. Roses are blooming but other plants have finished the season. I am protecting each rose with a collar, some peat humus, and leaves on top when they become available.

 Most bugs are beneficial - I learned as a child.
This is a Big-Eyed Bug.

Consider the Beneficial Bugs and Hungry Birds
Some gardeners want to clean up their gardens now, but Creation gardeners not only leave it trashy - but add to the trash.

  1. Weeds or necessary cuttings are piled up as mulch in the back.
  2. Plants are left standing, even when done for the season and fading away.
  3. Autumn leaves are added everywhere and never raked up for disposal.
 Graphic by Norma Boeckler

Many insects over-winter in the garden trash - by God's design. Some insects will be useful as food for the birds in the winter. Others will remain or hatch in the spring, when they provide food for the baby birds and strike out against insect pests.

I never thought of spiders-without-nests (cursorial) and rove beetles going out on patrol through the yard, but they are active and hungry. They enjoy the protection of organic trash that is never removed and placed on the curb for pick-up.

Leaving leaves alone has shown that I can be knee-deep in them until early spring - yet never rake them up later. Leaves cannot blow away easily in a backyard surrounded by fence. Instead, earthworms and mites reduce them to soil ingredients.

Some leaves become squirrel nests for the winter and birds use a few of them in the spring. One robin had leaves in its mouth when I came up close. It hopped away without letting go of the cargo, destined for a new nest. So I drape twine over the branches of the Mother of All Crepe Myrtles in the front. When a robin took one string up high in the maple tree and dropped it, the bird dive bombed to the ground to pick it up again.

 Mountain Mint is still blooming in mid-October.

Ultimately - For the Soil
Whatever we do for the birds and insects will benefit the soil, because the Creating Word fashioned everything to work together and on schedule - for mutual benefits.

Whether we aim at more beneficial insects or greater numbers of bacteria and fungus, the increasing biomass (all organic matter) will make the soil more productive by activating the composition of the soil. Everything helps - as designed -

  • Movement aerates the soil.
  • Death and decomposition move elements from one creature to another.
  • Fungus connects the plant roots so it can grow from their carbon while feeding them water and the nutrition they demand.
 Because you want Tachinid Flies,

you also want mounds of Daisies,
which are fun and easy to grow.

I do not believe in Creation because of the infinite number of dependencies around me, but because of the Word. Creation by the Word begins the Bible and permeates the lessons of the Bible.

Modern man's silence on Creation - especially among the apostate mainline denominations - shows how this is a mystery revealed by the Spirit. Many see the Biblical revelation, and even while surrounded by the evidence, deny and avoid the implications of what God has done. They harden their hearts against it. The more they deal with Creation, the blinder they become.

There is even a field of study about the way everything happens right on time for thousands of plants and animals. I still have fresh blooms on the Mountain Mint, a prodigal provider of pollen and nectar, and butterflies still work the garden. In the spring, the flowers blooming right through the snow will feed various insects and bees, the insects and bees providing for the early hatching of birds.

Here is a little birds and blooms trivia. We think of birds feeding their young insects and worms to help them grow fast. But Mourning Doves, the ultimate seed-eaters, feed their young partially digested seeds. The dove family nests later, when seeds have formed. That is just one example of timing.

Jesus argued from the lesser to the greater. If God can do so much for the least of His creatures, how much more does He care for each and every one of the souls in His care?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly teaches about His will and Word being in perfect harmony with the Father's. When we hear the Good Shepherd speaking, that is also the voice of the gracious, loving Father.

Jesus the Creating Word of Genesis 1, as John 1:3 clearly teaches.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Two Styles of Self-Destruction:
Mainline Apostates and Conservative Lutheran Apostates

Zoloth is the new dean of the U. of Chicago's Divinity School.

The University of Chicago scored a double-diversity victory by hiring a Jewish woman to be their new dean. Newspapers have enjoyed a number of Ripley's Believe It or Not stories in the last few years.

Going against logic and experience is one way the apostate religious institutions are destroying themselves. Every time they proclaim their latest diversity hire, they discourage reasonable candidates from laboring in the field. For example, why would a male Protestant minister want to wait around in the wings for a chance for the same job? The quota system is against him, and he is probably in the majority in his mainline group. In reality, the chances of getting an executive position is many times less than a woman with no real qualifications or experience. That may not last long, of course.

I wonder why any normal male would stay in a mainline religious organization. He is sitting in the back of the bus.

 Latini, a Presbyterian minister, is the new head
of ELCA's United Lutheran Seminary.

Look at all the ELCA men who might have been head of the new, doomed United Lutheran Seminary, the merger of the Gettysburg and Philadelphia seminaries. They hired a Presbyterian woman minister, who was earlier the Assistant Dean of Diversity at another school. They may not have promoted her to Dean of Diversity, but the ELCA Lutherans glorified her by raising her above all the ELCA professors. The New Testament professor will most likely be the most qualified (by quotas) from any place.

 I wrote the book about A. D. Mattson, but Elizabeth Bettenhausen gave the A. D. Mattson lectures at the LCA's Chicago seminary. When Mattson's daughter could not
get money to publish my dissertation, I suggested
mentioning her attorney to the seminary president.
The book was published soon after.

ELCA began its Long March into  diversity doom with quotas for all its leaders. They despised their former executives, who were greeted with diversity guillotines rather than continued jobs. They made a show of hiring people from other denominations. I went to one ELCA conference with Mrs. Ichabod - and it felt like a funeral. One person cheerfully asked an ELCA employee about which church he attended in Chicago, where he lived. He answered, a bit miffed, "I am not a Lutheran."

 Both photos were posted by ELCA, but I added the caption.
Olson with a Yale PhD was replaced by a woman with an MDiv and no real parish experience - Louise Johnson.

My Yale classmate, Stan Olson, found his top executive job eliminated due to budget collapse. He became president of Wartburg Seminary, in dire straits, and  soon retired to be replaced by a woman with no experience and no advanced education. She began by firing several people from the staff and offering public prayers for them.

 Note the Presbyterian get-up which Hanson wore.
Camouflage or reality?


Mark Hanson played to the Left, which united behind him and won him the lucrative and powerful job of Presiding Bishop. But lo, he facilitated the quota system, empowered the concept, and found himself replaced by a woman.

Liz Eaton made a point of identifying with her extreme supporters, who made sure a woman was finally in charge. Didn't the LCA dysfunctional activist, Liz Bettenhausen say on the cover of The Lutheran that her denomination was 98% controlled by men? Liz Eaton redeemed ELCA for those like LIz Bettenhausen who longed for real power. Suddenly the top higher education jobs went to women, one after another.

 Louise Johnson, Wartburg Seminary president,
followed Stan Olson.

As one reader noted, I am always looking at the fine print, such as "who translated this book?" The truth is often found - or hidden - in the details. Standard biographies issued by church bodies note the college, seminary, and graduate school of their newly elected or appointed leaders. Wives and children are also listed. That is how I found out how many Seminex veterans became ELCA bishops - truly an impressive number given their percentage of the clergy population. But alas, when most of these women are appointed, nothing is said about their families. Silence.

Second Style of Self-Destruction - WELS/LCMS/ELS - The Generic No-Name Congregation

The LCMS, WELS, ELS - even the CLC (sic) - are engaged in a program to rid America of Lutherans. The method is simple but effective.

Looking to Fuller Seminary as their Mecca, their Vatican, their Halle University - they start their newest and bestest mission churches with idiotic, generic names. My favorite is the quasi-occultic Illumine (WELS). Leave it to the forces of darkness to pretend they have the light.

The CORE (WELS) also stands out as having no meaning whatsoever - and synodical funding beyond belief.

These synods are ashamed they are Lutheran - and we should be ashamed of them too. They are frightened that the Lutheran name on the sign would scare away prospects. In fact, avoiding the name church is another tactic they emply.

They avoid Lutheran worship - the liturgy, real sermons, actual hymns, the Creeds, good Bible translations, and the Sacraments.

These so-called conservative Lutheran synods are self-destructing by training people to be generic no-name Christians with no Creeds, a hatred for the liturgy, and total silence about the KJV (Luther-centric) family of translations.

In the next generation - and even now - there will be few people who have any grasp of Lutheran liturgical worship or the actual text of the New Testament.

 They are good at getting re-elected and earning
princely salaries and benefits - but nothing else.

The "conservative" Lutheran leaders know this better than most readers realize. They know the numbers are already dooming them:

  • Seminaries collapsing
  • Worship attendance cratering
  • Money without members leading soon to no money and no members.

They created this fatberg by their political dodging and weaving, their silencing of all opposition while elevating the incompetent and greedy.

The reasons this happened are clear. The "conservative" synods met their Leftist counterparts at Fuller, because Fuller abandoned whatever shreds of the Christian Faith they started with. As carnal leaders, they sought carnal solutions and reaped the harvest.

WELS still boils with hatred because their own clergy give me leads about what is going on under the sick, soggy suzrrainty Mirthless Mark Schroeder.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Chicago is first divinity school to hire a Jewish dean

 © Nancy Wong, photo courtesy University of Chicago Divinity School Dean Laurie Zoloth chatting with attendees at a reception in her honor March 28 at Swift Hall on the University of Chicago campus.

Chicago is first divinity school to hire a Jewish dean:

"The Jewish New Year arrived this fall with an unusual milestone: The University of Chicago Divinity School began its semester with a Jewish dean for the first time in its 125-year history.

In fact, Dean Laurie Zoloth is apparently the first Jewish dean of any university-based U.S. divinity school, according to the Association of Theological Schools.

“We normally think of Jews as deeply integrated in the American academic system, so it is unusual that there is a discipline or an area where one could be the first Jewish academic anything,” Zoloth told USA TODAY.

But divinity schools are a bit different than other academic programs. Such schools were aligned with a certain denomination, she noted, and were originally conceived as pathways to ordination for clergy of that faith. But many programs have shed their denomination as they have moved to focus on the academic study of religion. Seminaries are a separate category of education, generally unconnected to another institution, and designed specifically to train and ordain clergy.

Some university divinity schools continue to be expressly tied to a specific faith — for instance the website at the Duke Divinity School, another top program, describes its program as providing  "a strong foundation for Christian ministry and leadership, ensuring that students are prepared to serve the church and the world."

By contrast, the website for the University of Chicago Divinity School describes its program as is “a tough-minded, sprawling, rigorous and dynamic conversation about what religion is and why understanding it is so vitally important.”

Greg Stirling, dean of Yale Divinity School, said “I still define (Yale) as a Christian divinity school — which doesn’t mean the only thing we do is train ministers… but we certainly take that with real seriousness.” Stirling said Zoloth’s arrival at Chicago is part of the evolution over time toward religious study, which is more purely academic than “lived.”

“Chicago is a first-rate academic institution,” he said, “but their basic orientation is different.”

Chicago does also train clergy: Zoloth notes that the Chicago school also has a top-rated Master of Divinity program that trains clerical leaders across different faith traditions.

Zoloth said her appointment “tells us that what it means to study religion has opened up into a much broader terrain, and that many of us are now welcome in the academy where this study is pursued and I’m excited to be here.”

Chicago’s choice of an Orthodox Jewish woman to lead its renowned divinity school is “a sign of the pluralism and ecumenicism that is remaking American society” said David Ellenson, former president of Hebrew Union College and a “tangible sign of the historic tranformation” in religious studies as well.

Ellenson noted that the nation as a whole is growing in its religious diversity, which is opening new opportunities in leadership for people of diverse faiths. Zoloth said there has been a broad expansion of religious studies in the U.S. with “a great new generation of people across many different traditions — Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism — so there is enormous growth that is possible throughout our field of religions studies.”

Presumably, she said, a Muslim will one day head a major U.S. divinity school. “There could be anybody who is devoted to the serious academic study of religion and that includes anyone who takes religious traditions seriously and understands themselves as a scholar of these traditions.”"

 Make sure the diversity is selective.

'via Blog this'

 Zoloth began her career as a neonatal nurse working in impoverished communities. She said those early years are central to how she views religious studies and bioethics—an approach that brings together theoretical exploration with an understanding of how arguments of theology and moral philosophy can address societal challenges.
Zoloth holds a bachelor’s degree in women studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the State of New York. She received a master’s degree in Jewish studies and a doctorate in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union. Zoloth also holds a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University.

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2017

Graphic by Norma Boeckler

The Hymn # 239                 Come Thou Almighty King                         
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #269            O Lord Our Father                      

Against the Professional Religious Establishment

The Communion Hymn # 396            Oh for a Faith            
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #651               Be Still My Soul            

 Graphic by Norma Boeckler

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

 Graphic based on Norma Boeckler's

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Against the Professional Religious Establishment

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

Many would like to frame the Gospels as the Jews against Jesus, resulting in the crucifixion. That gives a false impression of another religion against Jesus, as if that could not happen today. But the vast majority of His followers were Jews, and the Roman establishment does not enter the picture until the end.

The real theme of the Gospels - and the entire New Testament - is faith versus unbelief. The worst opponents came from the religious establishment, from the great, the wise, the holy, the scholars.

Even today, the hottest opposition and the greatest numbers of opponents do not come from the atheists organizations and the American Humanists, but from the Protestant and Catholic clergy, the college and seminary professors, and the professionals who may not have a church job but teach their version of Christian theology at the great universities - Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, U. of Chicago, etc. The mainline eccelesiastics - with honorary and earned doctorates - lead the forces for radicalism, apostasy, and persecution of believers.

When Jesus taught, the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious establishment - sometimes the Sadducees too - gathered to criticize and condemn Him.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 

This question is interesting, because Jesus also asked it when leading into the Parable of the Good Samaritan. If they asked Jesus, and Jesus asked them - with the same result - then this is a crucial summary of the Law. Naturally, the answer is from the Old Testament, because that was the only Scripture at the time. The New Testament came to be written soon after the death and resurrection of Christ - but not yet. The entire work of the Old Testament is to prepare Israel and the world for Christ, so Jews had the advantage of seeing the well known Promises fulfilled in Christ. Secondly, which is the case today, believers need to know the Old Testament to see how perfectly Jesus was promised centuries in advance, with passages so perfect that anyone can see they are about Jesus and only Him. Children see that right away in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

Other prophesies were about that time and later - the sop of bread offered to the traitor.

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

This is famous for being the summary of the Old Testament, whether it comes from one side or another. However, the truth of the statement is based on faith rather than righteousness through works, which is where most get stuck. And that leads to pretending obedience or making up a grand show of holiness. Luther called it "head over heels" in holiness. 

Luther's point about this is that faith in God leads us to love Him and follow His commandments out of faith and love. Abraham was tested and he showed ultimate trust in God by being willing to follow the contradictory and absurd demand that he sacrifice. Therefore, God provided a substitute - a ram caught in a thicket.

This is a foreshadowing of Christ being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, which comprises a large part of John's Gospel. Rather than constantly condemn man for sinfulness, God provides a remedy and healing in forgiveness through trust in Christ.

Jesus gave the opponents a question and led them into an obvious conclusion - 

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 

This question and answer are too easy, because Jesus knew their nature and thoughts. Anyone would have given the same answer to this, at that time. The implications though are great.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

This seems like a verbal puzzle, but it is easy to put together. How can David's son be his Lord? That implies a much greater role than descendant of David. Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God, is much greater than David, who was the model of the great warrior-king, religious leader of Israel.

As we can see from the final chapters of John, the reason for the tensions between Jesus and the religious establishment were based on His role as the Son of God. His teaching of believing in Him as righteousness. The summary above implies  that, and the religious leaders knew that. While they were making Jesus out to be a political threat to Pilate as the supposed "King of the Jews," they slipped and said, "He makes Himself out to be The Son of God." I capitalized The because when Greek omits "the" which is rare, it is akin to us saying THE... as opposed to a son of God (Like Moses, Buddha, etc - Movie - "Oh God").

This debate took place with Jesus openly claiming to be the Son of God, teaching everyone faith in Him, and the opponents knowing it and trying to silence Him - or just ignore Him. Nothing kills a good debate than one side turning away in silence. It is a major sign of defeat, but designed to say, "You are not worth talking to or debating with."

So this is the tactic of the Protestant/Catholic religious establishment today. For  instance, they like to exclude John's Gospel from all discussions, because the rationalists have taught them to do so. 

If the Fourth Gospel is the capstone message of the Four Gospels, with the historical narrative taught in the first three, then John's Gospel is central to the entire Bible. Everything is done and spoken in St. John "so that they might believe." This happens in words and miracles, in providing that Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament. 

Not only that, Jesus predicted how He would die, and the disciples realized and stated that this was true, so Jesus own sacrifice was part of this system of proofs. That did not happen on God's behalf, but ours. We do not have a few proofs, but hundreds of proofs.

The entire Bible is like those strange illustrations which show two things at once. If we focus on the obvious, we do not see the main picture. Our brains are altogether fooled. If we can shift our focus, the real picture is sharp and clear. 

So Psalm 22 is utterly strange and contradictory, so odd next to the beautiful 23rd Psalm.

Isaiah 53 is so unlike Jewish expectations of the Messiah that  the paraphrases used (Targums) actually reversed the message (just like the NIV and ESV today).  If we focus on the Atonement, both passages are so clear it is a wonder that the entire world does not acknowledge this.

In a way, it does, but in opposition. The entire world, minus the believers, finds all kinds of scholarly and official ways to dismiss both  passages - and others. 
  • "This is not Messianic." 
  • "This does not promise what people learned in Sunday School."
  • "Don't make faith a work. That is against grace." 
Opposition is a sign of truth, because unbelievers are shaken by the Gospel, even when and especially when they are clergy and theologians. 

So the message of this Gospel is one which makes the Summary of the Law come alive. Why should we love God with our hearts, minds, soul, and heart? Because Jesus is our loving Good Shepherd who became the Passover Lamb for us. And yet as the risen Lord He continues to help us and guide us, strengthening us in prayer and also is being the agent of all that God does. 

The second part is based upon the truth, that God has done everything for us and continues to help us. There is nothing we can do for Him, but we can help our neighbor as the natural response to God's abundant blessings.

 Graphic by Norma Boeckler

Luther's Sermon on Jesus as the Son of David.
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Norma Boeckler


This sermon is not found in the c. edition. Erl. 14, 163; W. 11, 2249; St. L. 11, 1686.

Text: Matthew 22:34-46. But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, gathered themselves together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, trying him: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, What think ye of the Christ? whose son is he?

They say unto him, The son of David. He said unto them, How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I put thine enemies underneath thy feet? If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son? And no one was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.


* The Substance of this Gospel.

* Where unbelief is, there is also stupidity and unrighteousness. 2.


1. The foundation and kernal of the law. 3-5.

2. The law must be kept by the heart. 5-10.

3. To what end has the law been given. 6-7f.

* The custom of the Jews in that they offered their children to Moloch. a. The origin of this custom. 8-9. b. How and why God had displeasure in this custom.

4. The law must accommodate itself to our love and our need. 11-13f.

* The ceremonies and statutes of the Papists. a. They must give place to love. b. How and why the Papists are so strict that they neglect the commandments of God. c. What we should think of the Papists being so strict about their ceremonies. 16-17.

* A Judgment on the state of the priests and monks.

5. There are but few persons who understand the law.

6. Whether nature and reason can understand and fulfill the law. 20-21.

7. When and how the law is correctly preached.

8. There is no person who fulfills the law of God. 23-26.

* All people are alike in the inner wickedness of their hearts. 27.


1. The Gospel frees us of an evil conscience.

2. How the Gospel teaches us to become free from the law. 29-31.

* Faith and works.

* To what extent Christ can be called the son of David. 33 -34.


1. The two commands in this Gospel, of the love of God and of our neighbor, condemn us all, not to say anything then that the law Justifies us.
2. The Spirit of God alone fulfills the commandment. Therefore all that pertains to us is against and contrary to the law of God, as St. Paul says in the third chapter of Romans.

3. Seeing all depends upon love, works do not Justify, but faith alone.

Blessed is he who has faith.

4. Christ is both God and man, and David’s son and David’s Lord; therefore he is also the only mediator between God and man, as St. Paul says to Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:5.

1. This Gospel consists of two questions. In the first the lawyer on behalf of the other Pharisees asks Christ: Which is the great commandment in the law? In the second the Lord asks the Pharisees and the lawyer: Whose son is David? These two questions concern every Christian; for he who wishes to be a Christian must thoroughly understand them. First, what the law is, and the purpose it serves; and secondly, who Christ is, and what we may expect from him.

2. Christ explains here to the Pharisees the law, telling them what the sum of the whole law is, so that they are completely silenced both at his speech and his question, and know less than nothing of what the law is and who Christ is. From this it follows, that although unbelief may appear as wisdom and holiness before the world, it is nevertheless folly and unrighteousness before God, especially where the knowledge of the two questions mentioned above is wanting.

For he who does not know how he stands before the law, and what he may expect from Christ, surely has not the wisdom of God, no matter how wise and prudent he may pretend to be. Let us therefore consider the first question, namely: What the law is; what it commands and how it is to be spiritually interpreted.

3. When the lawyer asked Christ, which was the great commandment in the law, the Lord said to him: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.”

4. As if the Lord would say: He who possesses love to God, and love to his neighbor, has all things, and therefore fulfills the law; for the whole law and all the prophets point to these two themes, namely: how God and our neighbor are to be loved.

5. Now one may wish to ask: How can you harmonize this statement, that all things are to be comprehended in these two commandments, since there was given to the Jews circumcision and many other commandments? To answer this, let us see in the first place how Christ explains the law, namely, that it must be kept with the heart. In other words, the law must be spiritually comprehended; for he who does not lay hold of the law with the heart and with the Spirit, will certainly not fulfill it. Therefore the Lord here gives to the lawyer the ground and real substance of the law, and says that these are the greatest commandments, to love God with the heart and our neighbor as ourselves.

From this it follows that he, who is not circumcised, who does not fast nor pray, is not doing it from the heart; even though he may perform external acts, he nevertheless does nothing before God, for God looketh on the heart, and not on our acts, 1 Samuel 16:7. It will not profit a man at all, no matter what work he may perform, if his heart is not in it.

6. From this arises another question: Since works are of no profit to a man, why then did God give so many commandments to the Jews? To this I answer, these commandments were given to the end that we might become conscious whether we really love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and in addition our neighbor as ourselves; for St. Paul says in Romans 7:7 (3:20), that the law is nothing but a consciousness and a revelation of sin. What would I know of sin, if there were no law to reveal it to me?

Here now is the law that saith: Thou shalt love God with thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. This we fulfill if we do all that the law requires; but we are not doing it. Hence he shows us where we are lacking, and that, while we ought really to do something, we are doing nothing.

7. That the Jews had to practice circumcision was indeed a foolish ceremony, yea, a command offensive to reason, even though it were given by God still to-day. What service was it to God, to burden his people with this grievous commandment? What good was it to him, or what service to a neighbor? Yea, and it did not profit the Jew, who was circumcised. Why then did God give the command? In order that this commandment and law might show them whether they really loved God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind, and whether they did it willingly or not. For if there were a devout heart, it would say: I verily do not know why God gave me circumcision, inasmuch as it does not profit any one, neither God, nor me, nor my neighbor; but since it is well pleasing to God, I will nevertheless do it, even though it be considered a trifling and despised act. Hence, circumcision was an exercise of the commandment, Thou shalt love God with all thy heart.

8. It was also a foolish command God gave to Abraham, to slay his son, Genesis 22:2. For if reason had been the judge in this, both it and all mankind would have come to no other conclusion than this: It is an unfriendly and hostile command, how can it be from God, since God himself said to Abraham that he would multiply his seed through this son, and it would become as innumerable as the stars of the firmament and as the sand by the sea. Therefore it was a foolish commandment, a grievous, hard and unbearable commandment. But what did Abraham do? He closes his senses, takes his reason captive, and obeys the voice of God, goes, and does as God commanded him.

By this he proved that he obeyed from the heart; otherwise, even if he had put his son to death a hundred times, God would not have cared for it; but God was pleased that the deed came from his heart and was done in true love to God; yea, it came from a heart that must have thought: Even if my son dies, God is almighty and faithful, he will keep his word, he will find ways and means beyond that which I am able to devise; only obey, there is no danger. Had he not had this boldness and this faith, how could his fatherheart have killed his only and well beloved son?

9. The Jews later wanted to follow this example and, like Abraham, offered their children unto God, hoping thereby to perform a service well-pleasing to God; but it was far from it. These poor people came to the conclusion:

The service of Abraham was pleasing to God, therefore will ours also be, and consequently they killed one child after another. O, how many healthy, noble and beautiful children perished! The prophets protested against this service, they preached, warned and wrote against it, telling the people that it was deception, but all was in vain. Yea, many a prophet lost his life because of this, as the history in the books of the kings shows.

10. But why was this service of the Jews displeasing to God? For the reason that it did not come from their heart, and was not done out of love to God; but they simply looked upon the service, and did it without the command and word of God; but God saith: My dear sirs, I was not concerned about the fact that Abraham offered up his son, but that he proved by this act that he loved me with his whole heart. There must be first love in the heart, then follows the service that will be pleasing to God; for all the works of the law tend to the end thereby to prove our love to God, which is in the heart; which love the law requires, and wall have above everything else.

11. We are also to notice here that all the works of the law are not commanded merely for the purpose that we simply just perform them; no, no; for if God had given even more commandments, he would not want us to keep them to the injury and destruction of love. Yea, if these commandments oppose the love of our neighbor, he wants us to renounce and annul them. Take the example of this, I recently gave you: Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, leading them for forty years through the wilderness, and not one of them was circumcised, although it was commanded them. Where was their obedience to the commandment?

Was God not angry with them because they did not obey his commandment? No, there was a higher commandment in force at that time, namely, that they were to obey God who commanded them to come out of Egypt in haste to the promised land. By their marching they daily obeyed God, and God accepted it as obedience; otherwise he would have been angry, in that they did not keep his commandments. Both the need and the love were at hand, which set aside all commandments, for it would have been unbearable to endure the pain of circumcision and at the same time the burden of the journey. Therefore love took the place of the commandment of circumcision, and thus should all commandments be kept in love, or not at all.

12. In like manner Christ excused his disciples, as is recorded in Matthew 12:3-4, when the Jews accused them of transgressing the law, of doing on the Sabbath that which was not lawful to do on the Sabbath day, when they plucked the ears of corn and ate them. Then the Lord gave them to understand that they were doing no wrong, as if to say: Here is no Sabbath; for the body needs food, necessity demands it; we must eat, even though it be on the Sabbath. Therefore the Lord cited the example of David, which he laid before the Jews, and said, “Have ye not read what David did; he and they that were with him, when he was an hungered, how he went into the house of God and ate the shew bread which was not lawful to eat, nor for those that were with him, excepting for the priests?” 1 Samuel 21:3f. Then David ate the bread, though he was not a priest, because hunger pressed him to do it. Neither did Ahimelech the priest violate the law in giving the bread to David, for love was present and urged him to give it. Thus even the whole law would have had to serve David in his need.

13. Therefore, when the law impels one against love, it ceases and should no longer be a law; but where no obstacle is in the way, the keeping of the law is a proof of love, which lies hidden in the heart. Therefore ye have need of the law, that love may be manifested; but if it cannot be kept without injury to our neighbor, God wants us to suspend and ignore the law.

14. Thus you are to regulate your life and conduct. There are in our day many customs, many orders and ceremonies, by which we falsely think to merit heaven; and yet there is only this one principle, namely: the love to our neighbor, that includes in it all good works. I will give you an example we recently heard. Here is a priest or monk, who is to read his prayers or the rules of his order, or to hold mass, or say penance. At this moment there comes a poor man or woman to him who has need of his help and counsel. What shall this priest or monk do? Shall he perform his service, or shall he assist the poor man? He should therefore act prudently and think:

True, I am required to read my prayers, hold mass, or say penance; but now on the other hand, a poor man is here; he needs my help and I should come to his rescue. God commanded me to do this; but the others man devised and instituted. I will let the mandates of men go, and will serve my neighbor according to God’s commandment.

15. However, very seldom do we think that the precious service of holding mass and reading prayers should be put in the background; and such a humble service, as you regard it, should have the preference. But what is the reason? The reason is that these dream-preachers, who have nothing to present to us but the ordinances of men, have made us so timid and fearful that we came to the conclusion, if we did not regulate ourselves in everything according to their preaching, heaven itself would fall. Yea, they would rather let ten poor people starve than fail to say one mass. We find even to-day many monks or priests who rather let a poor man freeze, than violate their statutes and ordinances. So lamentably and miserably have they been deceived by their godless preachers and teachers, and by their superiors, who with their statutes and devilish ordinances have drawn, and are still drawing, them away more and more from the law of God to our own notions.

16. These are the principal fruits of unbelief and godlessness, which, as the Scriptures declare, provoke God. Should not God be angry with me, if he commands me to show my neighbor love, and I go and follow my own or other people’s dreams? It is as if a master said to his servant: Go and work in the field, and the servant went and desired to wash the dishes. Should not the master rightly be angry with such a servant? Thus it is also with God. He wants us to keep his commandments, and to regard them more than the commandments of men, and all the commandments to be subservient to love, so that all be comprehended in these two commandments, of which the Lord here speaks in this Gospel: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

17. Do you want to do something pleasing to God, then do it out of genuine love. That the Jews practiced circumcision, fasted much, prayed much, and performed other like services, was not pleasing to God, for it did not come from the heart, as this commandment requires: Thou shalt love God with all thy heart. Thus it will be also with you, even though you should belong to the Carthusian friars, or to a still more exacting order; all would avail nothing, if you had not the love of God. From this you are to conclude, all works are nothing, that do not originate in love, or are against love. No commandments should be in force, except those in which the law of love can be exercised.

18. From this it now appears what a misleading calling that of the monks and priests is, in that they wish to merit heaven through their works alone, and they also bind the people to do good works, in order that they may thereby merit heaven, which is a cursed and godless service. Hence, as already stated, the law is to be only an exercise to prove our love; otherwise, aside from love, God never inquires about works, no matter how excellent they are.

19. You can now see how many people know what the law means: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.

Surely they are few who know it, and fewer still who keep it. How can they keep that which they do not know? We are blind and our nature is totally blind, and so is also human reason. It knows nothing so imperfectly as that which the law of God requires.

20. Now here Christ shows the Pharisees and the Scribes a twofold kindness. In the first place, he dispels their blindness and teaches them what the law is. In the second place, he teaches them how impossible it is for them to keep the law. Their blindness he dispels, in that he teaches them what the law is, namely: that love is the law. Human reason cannot comprehend this nowadays any more than the Jews did then, for if it had been possible for human reason to comprehend it, the Pharisees and Scribes, who at that time were the best and wisest of the people, could have understood it; but they thought it consisted alone in performing the external works of the law; in giving to God, whether it be done willingly or unwillingly; but their inward blindness, their covetousness, and their hardened heart they could not see, and thought they thoroughly understood the law and were fine fellows, holy and pious people; but they stood in their own light. For no one is able to keep the law unless his nature is thoroughly renewed.

21. Therefore consider it an established fact that reason can never understand and fulfill the law, even though it knows the meaning of the law. When do you do to another what you want him to do to you? Who loves his enemy from his heart? Who loves to die? Who willingly suffers disgrace and shame? Dear sir, point me to a man who enjoys to have a bad reputation or to live in poverty! For nature and human reason flee entirely from this, are afraid, terrified and shocked; and if it were possible, as far as it were in their power, they would never suffer such misfortune. Human nature alone will never be able to accomplish what God in this commandment requires, namely, that we surrender our will to the will of God, so that we renounce our reason, our will, our might and power, and say from the heart: Thy will be done. And indeed, nowhere will you find a person who loves God with his whole heart and his neighbor as himself. It may indeed happen that two companions live friendly together; but even there hypocrisy is hidden, which continues until you are wounded by him; then you will see how you love him, and whether you are flesh or spirit.

This commandment therefore requires me to be friendly with all my heart to him who has offended me; but when do I do this?

22. Thus Christ desires to show us that we preach the law rightly, only when we learn from it that we are unable to fulfill it, and that we are the property of the devil. This we learn from experience, and it is shown now and then in the Scriptures, especially by St. Paul when he says in Romans 8:7-8: “Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” and it follows, that they who are in the flesh cannot please God.

23. Hence, take to thyself this commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and think upon it, contemplate it, and search what kind of a law it is; how far you are from fulfilling it, yea, how you have not yet even made a beginning to suffer and to do from the heart what God demands of you. It is pure hypocrisy, if anyone wants to creep into a hiding-place and think: Oh I will love God. Oh, how I do love him, he is my Father! How gracious he is to me! and the like. Yes, when God does our pleasure, then we can easily say such things; but when he sends misfortune and adversity, we no longer regard him as our God, nor as our Father.

24. True love to God does not act in this way, but in the heart it thinks and with the lips says: Lord God, I am thy creature; do with me as thou wilt; it matters not to me. I am ever thine, that I know; and if thou desirest, I will die this very hour or suffer any great misfortune; I will cheerfully do so from my heart. I will not regard my life, honor and goods and all I have, higher and greater than thy will, which shall be my pleasure all my days.

But you will never find a person who will constantly regulate himself according to this commandment; for the whole life you are living in the body, in the five senses, and whatever you do in your body, should all be so regulated as to be done to the glory of God, according to the regulations of this commandment, which saith, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind.” As if Christ said: If you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, then nothing will be lacking; you shall experience it in your daily life, namely: when everything you do, whether you wake or sleep, whether you labor or stand idle, whether you eat or drink, is directed and done out of love to God from the heart. In like manner your mind and thoughts will also be directed wholly and entirely to God, so that you will approve of nothing you are not certain is pleasing to God. Yea, where are those who do this?

25. And this part where he says, “With all thy mind,” argues powerfully against the writings and teachings of man, upon which he especially depends, and thinks thereby to obtain a merciful God and merit heaven.

Such imagination of the human reason draws us in a wonderful manner from this commandment, so that we do not love God with all the mind; as has been done hitherto, and is still done at the present day. For these priests and monks think nothing else than that God is moved by the mass and by other human inventions; but he abhors it and does not desire it, as is said in Isaiah 29:13: “In vain do they serve me, because they are teaching such doctrines which are only the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9. The commandment here requires you to consider nothing good that is against God and against everything he has commanded or forbidden. It thus requires, you to give yourself wholly and entirely to him in all your life and conduct.

26. From this you can conclude, there is no human being who is not condemned, inasmuch as no one has kept this commandment, and God wants everyone to keep it. There we stand in the midst of fear and distress, unable to help ourselves, and the first knowledge of the law is, that we see our human nature is unable to keep the law; for it wants the heart, and if it is not done with the heart, it avails nothing before God. You may indeed do the works outwardly, but God is not thus satisfied, when they are not done from the heart, out of love; and this is never done except man is born anew through the Holy Spirit. Therefore God aims to accomplish through the law nothing more than that we should in this way be forced to acknowledge our inability, frailtry and disease, and that with our best efforts we are unable to fulfill a letter of the law. When you realize this, the law has accomplished its work. This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 3:20, “Through the law is the knowledge of sin.”

27. From this it appears clearly that we are all alike, and are one in the inner wickedness of the heart, which the law reveals, when we look into it rightly. Therefore we might well say, If one is good, then all are good.

Therefore no one should accuse another. It is indeed true that in public and gross sins there sticks a deeper sin; but the heart is alike bad, unless it be renewed by the Holy Ghost. But what shall I do when I once recognize my sin? What does it profit me? It helps me very much, for when I have come thus far, I am not far from the kingdom; as Christ says to a scribe in Mark 12:34, who also knew that the works of the law were nothing without love.

28. But what shall we do to get rid of our bad conscience? Here follows now the other part of this Gospel, namely, who Christ is and what we can expect of him. From him we must receive and secure freedom from a wicked conscience, or we shall remain in our sins eternally, because for this purpose is Christ made known and given by the Father, in order that he might deliver us from sin, death, from a wicked conscience, and from the law.

29. We have now heard what the law is, and how through the law we come to the knowledge of sin; but this is not enough, another has a work to do here, whose name is Christ Jesus; although the first, the law, must indeed remain; yea, it is necessary. For if I have no sense of my sins, I will never inquire for Christ; as the Pharisees and scribes do here, who thought they had done everything the law commanded and were ready to do yet more; but of Christ they knew nothing. Therefore, first of all, when the law is known and sin revealed through the law, it is then necessary that we know who Christ is; otherwise the knowledge of sin profits us nothing.

30. But the law is known, when I learn from it that I am condemned, and see that there is neither hope nor comfort anywhere for me, and I cannot even help myself, but must have another one to deliver me. Then it is time that I look around for him who can help, and he is Christ Jesus, who for this purpose became man, and became like unto us, in order that he might help us out of the mire into which we are fallen. He loved God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, and submitted his will to the will of his Father, fulfilled the law in every respect; this I could not do and yet I was required to do it. Therefore, he accepts him; and that which he fulfilled in the law, he offers me. He freely gives me his life with all his works, so that I can appropriate them to myself as a possession that is my own and is bestowed upon me as a free gift. He delivers us from the law, for when the law says, Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself, or thou wilt be damned, then I say, I cannot do it. Then Christ says: Come to me, take me and cling to me by faith; then you shall be rid of the law.

31. Now this is accomplished in the following manner: Christ has through his death secured for us the Holy Spirit; and he fulfills the law in us, and not we. For that Spirit, whom God sends into your heart for the sake of his Son, makes an entirely new man out of you, who does with joy and love from the heart everything the law requires, which before would have been impossible for you to do. This new man despises the present life, and desires to die, rejoices in all adversity, and submits himself wholly and entirely to the will of God. Whatever God does with him, is well pleasing to him. This Spirit you cannot merit yourself, but Christ has secured and merited it. When I believe from the heart that Christ did this for me, I receive also the same Holy Spirit that makes me an entirely new man. Then everything God commands is sweet, lovely and agreeable, and I do everything he desires of me; not in my own strength, but by the strength of him that is in me, as Paul says in Philippians, 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.”

32. But you must take heed, that you do not undertake to secure this faith in Jesus Christ by your own works or power, or that you think lightly about this matter; for it is impossible for the natural man; but the Holy Spirit must do it. Therefore beware of the preachers of self-righteousness, who simply blabber and say: We must do good works in order to be saved.

But we say that faith alone is sufficient to this end. Our good works are for another purpose, namely, to prove our faith, as you have already frequently heard from me.

33. Now this is the purpose of the question the Lord put to the Pharisees:

What think ye of Christ; who is he and whose Son is he? But their answer, in that they say, He is the son of David, the Lord rejects and obscures their answer and refers to a passage from the Psalm, in order to leave them in doubt; so that no one is able to answer him a word.

34. However, when David calls Christ his Lord, in that he says in <19B001> Psalm 110:1, “But the lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool,’” it is to be understood that David speaks of him both as God and man, for according to the flesh alone he was the son of David. Paul also joins these two when he says in Romans 1:1-4: “I am called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, which he promised afore through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh; who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” But it is something to know that Christ is Lord; for this has might and power and is especially comforting in the time of affliction. But concerning this I have said more elsewhere and will therefore now close, and pray God for grace.