1Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for | he is good,*
for his steadfast love endures for- | ever!
2Who can utter the mighty deeds | of the LORD,*
or declare | all his praise?
3Blessèd are they who observe | justice,*
who do righteousness | at all times!
4Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your | people;*
help me when you | save them,
5that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your | nation,*
that I may glory with your in- | heritance.
6Both we and our fathers | have sinned;*
we have committed iniquity; we have done | wickedness.
7Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your | wondrous works;*
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the Sea, at the | Red Sea.
8Yet he saved them for his | name’s sake,*
that he might make known his | mighty power.
9He rebuked the Red Sea, and it be- | came dry,*
and he led them through the deep as through a | desert.
10So he saved them from the hand | of the foe*
and redeemed them from the power of the | enemy.
11And the waters covered their adver- | saries;*
not one of | them was left.
12Then they be- | lieved his words;*
they | sang his praise.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 106
Old Testament Reading:
Not Because of Righteousness
1“Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves, cities great and fortified up to heaven, 2a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ 3Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.
4“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. 5Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
6“Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. 7Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. 8Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. 9When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. 11And at the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. 12Then the LORD said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’
The Golden Calf
13“Furthermore, the LORD said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. 14Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. 17So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. 19For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also. 20And the LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. 21Then I took the sinful thing, the calf that you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small, until it was as fine as dust. And I threw the dust of it into the brook that ran down from the mountain.
22“At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath.”
New Testament Reading:
Messengers from John the Baptist
1When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
To receive the forgiveness of sins is to be justified, according to Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven.” By faith alone in Christ—not through love, not because of love or works—we receive the forgiveness of sins, although love follows faith. Therefore, by faith alone we are justified. We understand justification as the making of a righteous person out of an unrighteous one, or that a person is regenerated.
… In the forgiveness of sins, the terrors of sin and of eternal death must be overcome in the heart. Paul testifies about this in 1 Corinthians 15:56–57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, sin terrifies consciences. This happens through the Law, which shows God’s wrath against sin. But we gain the victory through Christ. How? Through faith, when we comfort ourselves by confidence in the mercy promised for Christ’s sake… God’s wrath cannot be appeased if we set our own works against it. For Christ has been set forth as an Atoning Sacrifice so, that for His sake, the Father may be reconciled to us. But Christ is not received as a Mediator except by faith. Therefore, by faith alone we receive forgiveness of sins when we comfort our hearts with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ’s sake. Likewise, Paul says in Romans 5:2, “Through Him we have also obtained access” and adds, “by faith.” Therefore, we are reconciled to the Father and receive forgiveness of sins when we are comforted with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ’s sake… [Paul] teaches that we have access to God (that is, reconciliation) through Christ. To show how this happens, he adds that we have access by faith. By faith, for Christ’s sake, we receive forgiveness of sins. We cannot set up our own love and our own works against God’s wrath.
—Apology of the Augsburg Confession IV (II) 76–81
O grant, dear Lord of love,
That we receive, rejoicing,
The word proclaimed by John,
Our true repentance voicing,
That gladly we may walk
Upon our Savior’s way
Until we live with Him
In His eternal day.
—When All the World Was Cursed (LSB 346:4)
Prayer of the Day
Gracious God, our heavenly Father, Your mercy attends us all our days. Be our strength and support amid the wearisome changes of this world, and at life’s end grant us Your promised rest and the full joys of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (A67)
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XVI 61–65, XVII 66