THE WEEK OF TRINITY XI – FRIDAY

LESSON: LUKE 14:7‒11

“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

We must take a look here at the foolish hypocrite, the Pharisee. He is adorned with the most beautiful works. First, he gives thanks to God, fasts twice in the week, and gives a tithe on his whole income to God, not to St. Nicholas or St. Barbara. He has not broken up his marriage or committed an act of violence against anyone. He is not the kind of man to insist on his rights; he has always preserved an unblemished record of piety. If that is not a fine, honorable life, I would like to know what is! No one could really fault this man; as far as the world is concerned, he deserved nothing but praise. In fact, he praises himself.

God intervenes here to demonstrate that the works of this Pharisee are blasphemies. Lord God forbid! What judgement is this! Nuns and priests might well be dismayed here and tremble in the marrow of their bones. None of them are half as pious as this Pharisee. Would to God that there were still many such hypocrites and Pharisees today!

What is there lacking in this pious man? The simple fact is that he does not really know his own heart. Here you see that we are our own greatest enemies, inasmuch as we close our eyes and heart. This man tells us how he feels. If I were to ask such a hypocrite, “My dear man, do you really mean what you say?” he would affirm with an oath that he has his facts quite straight. Note, however, how deep God’s sword cuts, “piercing to the division of soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). Here everything must crash in ruins and fall to the ground. Without humility, no one can stand before God.

SL 11:1492 (17‒19)

PRAYER: Open our eyes and hearts, O Lord, that we really recognize ourselves for what we are, miserable and wretched sinners, utterly lost and condemned if left to our own resources. Fill up our emptiness with Your grace and mercy, and continue to shower Your blessings upon us, in and through our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:336-347.