Photo by Shannon Douglas on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
The Lord chose 72 others, and He sent them two by two before Him into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.
“St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor.” With that sort of day it seems like today’s sermon will be largely self-serving on my part. Titus was a Pastor, I’m a pastor. The readings are all about the pastoral office, and I’m in that office. And this past week I was at the Fort Wayne Seminary for continuing ed, surrounded by a bunch of other pastors, so now I’m supercharged to make the most of this opportunity to magnify my ministry. Good job security there…
But the celebration of “St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor,” has nothing to do with me. It really doesn’t have much to do with St. Titus, either, but it does have much to do with “Pastor and Confessor.” For Titus isn’t anything, nor am I, personally speaking. But “Pastor and Confessor” are everything, for those are all gift from the Lord. As St. Paul says, “When the Lord ascended on high, He gave gifts to men.” And what are the gifts He gave? “He gave some to be apostles, prophets, Gospel-preachers, pastors, and teachers of doctrine.
That Gifting of Jesus has nothing to do with Titus. His being a pastor doesn’t benefit Titus. His being “Pastor and Confessor” is not for Titus’ good. Pastors are never pastors for their own sakes. That’s not how the Lord does any of His callings. Fathers are fathers for their children’s benefit—daughters for their parents, teachers for students, students for teachers, citizens for leaders, leaders for citizens, and on down the line. So also pastors.
Titus was “pastor and confessor” for the sake of those he pastored, those he preached, taught, and confessed the faith to. Through Titus and through all His men, the Lord Jesus Himself “equips the saints, does the work of ministry, and builds up the body of Christ.” Pastors and Confessors are all gift from the Lord for you. Why? “So that you may get faith in Christ.” (AC V) And that’s why “the Office of Preaching the Gospel and delivering the Sacraments was instituted by Christ, for through the Word and Sacraments, as through instrustments, the Holy Spirit is given to you, and He works faith, where and when it pleases God, in those who hear the Gospel, that they are received into favor for Christ’s sake alone.” (AC V)
((2. The Lord sends His men where He means to.))
And so we have our Lord Jesus sending His 72. He appointed them. They are His. His men sent by Him to do His work. They go to the places of His choosing: “to every city and place that He Himself was about to go.” And so they go where He tells them to go. How would they know where to go unless He told them where He was going to go? Some to Chorazin. Some to Bethsaida. Some to Capernaum. All over Galilee they went. Wherever Jesus told them He was going, that’s where they went, because that’s where He sent them.
His sending continued. Through the Spirit He set the Ephesian pastors as bishops to pastor the church of God which He purchased with His own blood on the cross. Still more sending from the Lord through Paul and through Titus. “This is the reason I left you in Crete,” Paul says to Titus, ”to appoint elders, pastors, in every city.” Even down to our day the Lord puts His men wherever He chooses, whenever He chooses to. Palmer just received that gift last week.
The Lord does His putting people in places. Not just pastors. You, too. You in a place, this place. You have your family, your coworkers, the people who live around you. All there for you. Gift for you. But also you there for them, as a gift. The Lord tells you to love your neighbor, and so He gives you neighbors to love and serve them in the way He’s given you to love and serve them.
Teachers and students doing what each are supposed to do. Classmates loving not bullying their classmates or teachers, forgiving them, too. Workers and bosses working together in peace. Children loving, even listening to, their parents. Parents caring for their children in body, feeding, clothing, housing them, but even more so caring for them in soul, bringing them to receive the Lord’s Word and Gifts at church.
((1. His men do what He means them to do.))
There the Gifts are given as Jesus gave them to be given. Jesus’ Gifts, His Word, His Baptism, His Absolution, His preaching, His body and blood—His Gifts—are given through the men He gives to give them. It’s why He sends them.
They are sent with His marching orders. “Go to the cities I’m going to. Enter the house. Deliver peace. Heal the sick. Preach that the Kingdom is come.” “Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” on the cross for you. “Appoint pastors in every city,” because God reveals His promise of eternal life right now through His Word in preaching. Preaching needs preachers. Needs hearers, too. (Another way for you to love your neighbor! Not only you listen, but bring others to listen, too!)
His men are sent by Jesus to do His work. They’re also appointed by the Spirit to do it. And so His men are those who do what He sent them to do. Those who preach, who teach, who baptize, who absolve, who give communion, not for their sakes. What good does that do them? No, the Lord’s men are sent for the sake of His people, that they—you, too!—would receive the gift of His salvation. You are died for by Jesus, He shed His blood for you, you are baptized, forgiven, given His crucified and raised body and blood, all in the way He gave it. His Gifts. His preaching. His men. His time. His place. For you.
THE LORD SENDS HIS MEN TO DO HIS WORK. The 72. The Ephesian pastors. Paul. Titus. But it’s not about them. “Pastor and Confessor.” That’s what it’s all about in His Church. For there, through His men, the Lord is doing His work. The Lord works through you for your neighbor’s benefit, and the Lord works through His man for your benefit, working for your salvation.
His men are where He means them to be, at His time. They are doing what He means them to do. Giving the Gifts He wants given to you, the gifts He sends them to give. THE LORD SENDS HIS MEN TO DO HIS WORK—forgiving, preaching, baptizing, communing you with His body and blood.
His men doing His work where He is about to go. He will come again for you, too, to bring you to His Kingdom. All gift from the Lord for you.