1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your | steadfast love;*
according to your abundant mercy blot out my trans- | gressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my in- | iquity,*
and cleanse me | from my sin!
3For I know my trans- | gressions,*
and my sin is ever be- | fore me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil | in your sight,*
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your | judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in in- | iquity,*
and in sin did my mother con- | ceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward | being,*
and you teach me wisdom in the | secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I | shall be clean;*
wash me, and I shall be whit- | er than snow.
8Let me hear joy and | gladness;*
let the bones that you have bro- | ken rejoice.
9Hide your face | from my sins,*
and blot out all my in- | iquities.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 60
Old Testament Reading: Joshua 7:1–26
Israel Defeated at Ai
1But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
2Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.
6Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. 7And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! 😯 Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”
The Sin of Achan
10The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the LORD takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the LORD takes shall come near by households. And the household that the LORD takes shall come near man by man. 15And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”
16So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the LORD. 24And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.
New Testament Reading: Acts 10:34–48
Gentiles Hear the Good News
34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles
44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Grace has more power than nature. Yet, so far, we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet’s blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, in the Old Testament miracles, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Savior operate? For the Word of Christ makes the Sacrament that you receive what it is. But if the word of Elijah had power to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the creation of the world: “He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created.” Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to create from nothing, be able to change things that already are into what they were not?…
But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. Yet His body was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a virgin, not according to nature? The true flesh of Christ was crucified and buried, so the Sacrament of His body is truly His body.
The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: “This is My body.” Before the blessing of the heavenly words it is spoken of as bread; after the consecration, the body is proclaimed. So, too, with the blood. And you say, “Amen,” that is, “It is true.” Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters; let the soul feel what the voice speaks.
—Ambrose of Milan
For Christ bore our sins, and not His own,
When He on the cross was hanging;
And then He arose and moved the stone
That we, unto Him belonging,
Might join with angelic hosts to raise
Our voices in endless singing.
—O Day Full of Grace (LSB 503:3)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (F18)
John the Baptizer and Jesus, the two great figures of salvation history, now come together in the visit to Elizabeth by the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:39–45), both of whom conceived their children under miraculous circumstances. Thus John is brought into the presence of Jesus while they are still in their mothers’ wombs. This presence of the Lord causes a response by the child John as he leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. John’s response to the presence of Jesus, the Messiah, foreshadows John’s own role as forerunner. Already now, a new creation is beginning, and a baby still in the womb hails the new creation’s inception. Foreshadowed in John’s leap are the miracles of Jesus, who will cause all creation to leap at His presence: “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22). The incarnate presence of the Messiah also evokes a response from Elizabeth, who proclaims Mary’s blessedness. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) provides the theological significance of this meeting as Mary sums up her place in salvation history. Mary’s song is a hymn to God for His gracious gifts to the least in this world, whom He has lifted up out of lowliness solely because of His grace and mercy.
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Augsburg Confession XXV