17The LORD is righteous in | all his ways*
and kind in | all his works.
18The LORD is near to all who | call on him,*
to all who call on | him in truth.
19He fulfills the desire of those who | fear him;*
he also hears their cry and | saves them.
20The LORD preserves all who | love him,*
but all the wicked he | will destroy.
21My mouth will speak the praise | of the LORD,*
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and | ever.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 145
Old Testament Reading:
The Command to Leave Horeb
1These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. 2It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. 3In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them, 4after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei. 5Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law, saying, 6“The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7Turn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the Negeb and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. 8See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’
9“At that time I said to you, ‘I am not able to bear you by myself. 10The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven. 11May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you! 12How can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife? 13Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.’ 14And you answered me, ‘The thing that you have spoken is good for us to do.’ 15So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and set them as heads over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officers, throughout your tribes. 16And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him. 17You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ 18And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.”
New Testament Reading:
The Sermon on the Mount
1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the king-dom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The cross … is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ… [T]he cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die… [I]t is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man…. [O]nly the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and… the baptism in the name of [Christ] … means both death and life… [B]aptism sets the Christian in the middle of the daily arena against sin and the devil… The wounds and scars he receives in the fray are living tokens of this participation in the cross of his Lord… While it is true that only the sufferings of Christ are a means of atonement, yet since he has suffered for and borne the sins of the whole world and shares with his disciples the fruits of his passion, the Christian also has to … bear the sins of others…. But he would certainly break down under this burden, but for the support of him who bore the sins of all. The passion of Christ strengthens him to overcome the sins of others by forgiving them. He becomes the bearer of other men’s burdens—“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-men. The law of Christ … is the bearing of the cross. My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward lot, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it in the power of the cross of Christ in which I now share… Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.
“Blessèd are the meek and humble,
All the earth to them is willed.
Those who hunger to be holy,
They are bless’d and will be filled.
Yes, the merciful are blessèd,
Mercy will to them be shown.
And the pure in heart are blessèd,
They have eyes for God alone.”
—Jesus Sat with His Disciples
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (L16)
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIb (VI) 58–66 [155–163]