Sep 25

Slave to a Theme

I have been preaching on the Eisenach epistle series this church year. Sometimes they make me want to scream. Tomorrow's text is a case in point: Hebrews 4:9-13:

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Judging from Lenski's analysis of the Eisenach series, much thought was given to grouping the texts into very precise and pointed themes. And in keeping with the theme of this text: "Strive to enter the Sabbath rest", we get this nice doozy at the end: God sees everything that you do, and you have to give account to Him. So don't screw up.

Great. Nice place to end, guys. I mean seriously, would it have killed you to add a couple more verses where the threat of the Law resolves into the sweet and comforting Gospel that rescues us from despair and fixes our eyes firmly on Christ, our Redeemer? :

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Oh, but that would mean we would bring Christ as our High Priest into the text, and that is not in keeping with the theme of the day. Well if the Eisenach editors were slaves to a theme, then at least I do not have to be a slave to their pericope and can freely include the verses that they did not.

Thematic preaching is nice, but over-rated, particularly when the theme eclipses the text itself. Go read Luther's sermons. No themes in sight. Anywhere. Why? Because the theme is always the same: You are a sinner. Repent! Receive the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Amen.


I'm a Lutheran pastor, a CTO, a father, amateur photographer, programmer, Irish music fan, and all around geek, but I only have one blog. So, you will find here a mix of theology, photography, geek speak, family news, and whatever else strikes my fancy. If you get confused, there are now categories…




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