Teacher, example, brother

What makes a good teacher? Oodles of patience, surely a genuine capacity for sympathy, and heaps of energy. When it comes to faith, the role model effect is essential: those who practise what they preach will be remembered for a long time.

At the beginning of the year the Chief Apostle issued a new motto. He captioned his New Year’s message for 2021 with: “Christ, our future.” This certainty is to accompany the congregations throughout the year, just like the fact that the Lord is always with His own. The Chief Apostle says: “We begin the new year with the certainty that Jesus is coming soon! Let us continue to prepare ourselves for the return of Christ by seeking His fellowship and orienting ourselves by His teaching. Let us concentrate on what is essential in our congregations: we all have the same goal, after all.” Whatever the new year holds in store: Jesus is right there with us.

The second Sunday: Jesus, teacher and example

On the second Sunday of the month, the Divine Service Guide starts with a new thematic series: “Christ is with us”. Jesus Christ is the teacher, the example. During His activity on earth Jesus spoke and acted by divine authority. He did not seek His own glory but taught the will of God and gave God all glory. Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7: 16).

His doctrine was never theoretical, however. He Himself acted in accordance with it, which can can be illustrated with the many unusual encounters He had with other people. At the same time, it is an indication for anyone who wants to be His pupil: follow His teaching and seek a constant connection with Him; then the pupil can become also become a teacher.

The third Sunday: Jesus, our brother

On the third Sunday the sermon will focus on “Jesus, our brother”. Jesus is a brother among His brothers and sisters. He is not ashamed of them. On the contrary, He participates in their joy and suffering and will share His glory with them. Jesus the brother takes even the smallest sigh serious, shares even the slightest concerns. He defends His brothers and sisters when they are weak. Their sins have no influence whatsoever on the love that He shows them.

The fourth Sunday: Jesus grants faith

Jesus grants faith and strengthens it for those who ask Him to do so. This is the subject of the sermon on the fourth Sunday of January. One thing is not entirely unsurprising: faith is always subject to temptation. When we suffer or have other worries doubt takes hold of our soul. But it is precisely our oppressed faith that the Lord wants to strengthen through prayer, the proclamation of the gospel, the forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion, and through fellowship with other Christians.

The fifth Sunday: Christ makes free!

On the last Sunday in January we will have another opportunity to look back on last year’s motto: “Christ makes free!” In John 8: 36 it says: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” We are talking about true freedom here. This must not be understood philosophically; it is a question of faith. Christians believe that salvation is possible through Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice, and His resurrection. He came to liberate those from the bondage of sin who believe in Him. True Christian freedom unfolds there where people live and serve the way Christ did.

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Peter Johanning
Divine service