February 24, 2023
Today’s Reading: Matt. 11:25-30
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes older congregations will compile a history book, which will include the unique contributions of each of their pastors. Maybe one started a school outreach. Another oversaw a building project. Still another had a radio ministry.
What did Matthias do for the Church? We have absolutely no record of it. He was the first man to receive a divine call which the Church extended after the Ascension of Jesus. But that is the very last we hear about him, or any sermons he preached, or unique things he did.
And after all, that’s better for the Church, because the Church doesn’t belong to any particular pastor. She belongs to Jesus. The Church lives by the gifts Jesus gives: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” In Jesus our souls have rest, a true Sabbath that refreshes our innermost being. In Him we are built up and grow as disciples.
Whenever the Church falls in love with an individual, she forgets her true love, her true source of rest and life. Rest is replaced by excitement about what’s happening next. A charismatic leader can lay his yoke on the congregation and get them to do a lot of things and seem very active in their faith. Meanwhile, sadly, the souls of those who labor and are heavy laden go unhealed.
The commemoration of St. Matthias puts a silhouette of a pastor before us, which any faithful shepherd of the Lord can stand in. The Lord puts him there to proclaim His living Word, to effect the Father’s mysterious election, to bind up the broken hearted and crush the proud. Will each man have unique gifts, and accomplish different things during his time with a congregation? Certainly, and we thank God for His wisdom in arranging for that! But each faithful pastor is simply a servant of the Lord Jesus. It is the Lord’s ministry, the Lord’s compassion, the Lord’s absolution, and the Lord’s resurrection that give His Church reason to rejoice. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
God of the prophets, bless the prophets’ sons; Elijah’s mantle o’er Elisha cast.
Each age its solemn task may claim but once; Make each one nobler, stronger than the last.
Make them apostles, heralds of Your cross; Forth let them go to tell the world of grace.
Inspired by You, may they count all but loss And stand at last with joy before Your face. Amen. (LSB 682:1, 5)
-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.