Cantate Sunday (Fifth Sunday of Easter)

1Fret not yourself because of evil- | doers;*
         be not envious of wrong- | doers!

2For they will soon fade | like the grass*
         and wither like the | green herb.

3Trust in the LORD, | and do good;*
         dwell in the land and
befriend | faithfulness.

4Delight yourself | in the LORD,*
         and he will give you the
desires | of your heart.

5Commit your way | to the LORD;*
         trust in him, and | he will act.

6He will bring forth your righteousness | as the light,*
         and your justice as the | noonday.

7Be still before the LORD and wait patiently | for him;*
         fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man
who carries out evil de- | vices!

8Refrain from anger, and for- | sake wrath!*
         Fret not yourself; it tends only to | evil.

9For the evildoers shall be | cut off,*
         but those who wait for the LORD
shall inher- | it the land.
         —Psalm 37:1–9

Additional Psalm: Psalm 150

Old Testament Reading:
Leviticus 20:1–16, 22–27
Punishment for Child Sacrifice

1The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. 4And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, 5then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.

6“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. 7Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

Punishments for Sexual Immorality

10“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. 13If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. 15If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.…

You Shall Be Holy

22“You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. 24But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. 25You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. 26You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

27“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”

New Testament Reading: Luke 11:37–54
Woes to the Pharisees and Lawyers

37While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

The prophets fought valiantly against [the] notion [that whatever was done with good intention was a good work and pleasing to God, even if these things had no command of God.] [They first] showed that it was useless for men to worship God by using the commandment and teachings of men, Is. 29:13. Therefore in Is. 59:4, 8, in regard to those who trust in their man-made worship, he makes the pronouncement: “They trust in vanity and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity … they do not know the way of peace, and they have made crooked paths for themselves, and whoever walks in them shall not know peace,” cf. Zech. 7:5–6. Second, the prophets taught that men of this kind, who out of good intention had gone off on their own into their own forms of worship, were not serving God but the devil, Deut. 32:17, “They sacrificed to demons which were no gods, to gods they had never known”; cf. Ps. 106:37; Amos 5:25–26. Third, God also has shown by manifest punishments that He is provoked to wrath by worship of this kind. As Ps. 106:39 says, “They angered God by their experimentations and He poured down ruin upon them.” As a result of this, Solomon was removed from his kingdom because he instituted worship outside of the Word of God. Afterward the 10 tribes were carried off into endless captivity and the remaining two tribes were sent into a 70-year exile, because they wanted to worship God apart from and contrary to the Law which had been given to them.

In the New Testament Christ our Savior had several conflicts with the Pharisees concerning “the traditions of the elders.” For they devised several works which were not mandated by God, using as their excuse that it was a worship designed for righteousness and merit. In Matt. 15:1ff. Christ objects to them because they had made the commandment of God an empty thing by their traditions. He also cites Is. 29:13, “In vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and traditions of men.” In Matt. 23:23 Christ raises the objection that they tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and meanwhile neglect the weightier points of the law. In v. 25 He criticizes them for “cleaning the cups and the platters but inside they are filled with extortion and uncleanness.” Therefore, He calls them back to the observance of the Law and leads them to the works commanded in the Decalog, Matt. 19:18ff., “You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In Matt. 22:37ff., He cites a brief summary of the whole Decalog, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
         —Martin Chemnitz

Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts
That we may see our lost estate
And turn from sin before too late.
         —The Law of God Is Good and Wise (LSB 579:2)

Prayer of the Day
O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (L45)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord VIII 46–52

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.