Lectionary Homily for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost

Originally published at: Lectionary Homily for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost | Confident.Faith

  • Genesis 2:18–25
  • Psalm 128
  • Hebrews 2:1–18
  • Mark 10:2–16

Adam walked with God in the Garden., and yet God says that it is not good for man to be alone. We tend to pass over this section of Scripture too quickly. Man, in Paradise, walks with God, and yet God states unequivocally that Creation is incomplete because man has no helper fit for him. God makes woman specifically for man — more, all other creatures are made from the dust, but woman is made from man. Adam immediately recognizes what God has done:

This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh[.]

And so ‘a man will leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ This does not mean abandoning one’s parents (for those who do that have forsaken the faith and are worse than unbelievers); rather, it means a shifting of priorities. For the woman, her husband assumes the role of head that her father had theretofore held; for the man, he must care and provide for and protect his wife. The wife is the fruitful vine and the husband is the vinedresser — so also the Church and Christ.

“And the two shall become one flesh.” Now, this certainly encompasses the physical union — if it did not, then the woman could not be a fruitful vine filling the home with children — but it is more than that. However, we must get the basics correct before we can move on to more advanced matters. To be blunt: Marriage is sexual intercourse and sexual intercourse is marriage. This is why adultery is such an egregious sin — the man who lies with a married woman steals her from her husband and claims her for himself, and the woman who lies with a man who is not her husband steals and defiles her body, rejecting and violating her husband’s rightful headship. Again: Marriage is more than the physical union, but it is certainly not less — no marriage is truly valid until it is consummated.

The natural — and inevitable — outcome of marriage (barring the physical effects of sin on our world and our bodies preventing it) is children. This is by God’s design. There is no better environment for raising children than a home with their biological parents who are still married to each other. And, again, this is why adultery is such egregious sin: Adultery is divorce and divorce is adultery. Adultery destroys homes and causes permanent (in this life) harm to any children in those homes. It is to our great shame that divorce is so easy and adultery is unpunished in our society. But let us return to children.

We are told, explicitly, in Scripture, that God’s promises are ‘for us and for our children’. In the Old Testament, all males were circumcised on the eighth day. It was the duty of the head of the household to see that this was done. In the New Testament, the antitype (Baptism) has replaced the type (circumcision). The antitype is always greater, is always more complete than the type. Only males were circumcised — female members of the household were included in the covenant under their head (i.e., their fathers and then their husbands). Baptism, being the antitype, is available to both men and women, boys and girls.

Some would contend that children should not be baptized. I would, first, ask where they find such a command in Scripture, and I would, then, second, highlight that they have taken Baptism — the antitype — and made it lesser than circumcision — the type. To contend that children were included in the Old Testament, but must now be excluded in the New Testament, is not merely wrong, but actually demonic — remember: all false doctrines are ‘doctrines of demons’.

The Church has always baptized infants; the Church baptizes infants; the Church will — so long as the Earth endures — always baptize infants. But what of those who deny Baptism to children? The people brought βρεπη to Christ — that is, they brought Him their infants. The disciples attempted to prevent these parents from bringing their children to Christ and He rebuked them: ‘Let the παιδια (the children) come to Me, and do not hinter them.’ But Christ goes further: He says that the Kingdom belongs to such as those children and that no one will enter the Kingdom unless he receives it as would a little child. Some who teach falsely may be saved, but they endanger souls with their lies. We must pray that God enlightens them, and, if they will not be enlightened, that they will be struck mute. Better to enter the Kingdom with one’s tongue torn out than to enter the fires of Hell with one’s deceitful mouth intact.

The women and children in ancient Israel — even though only males eight days old or older were circumcised — were covered by the head of the household. So today — the children of believing parents should be baptized. ‘This promise is for you and for your children.’ Under the headship of their Christian fathers, Christian children should be baptized. In the waters of Baptism, we are united to Christ as our one true Head; we become part of His body — the Church. It is evil to deny to children this union with Christ on the grounds of (faulty) rationalism and enthusiasm. Satan loves unbaptized children.

There are, ultimately, two ‘prime’ heads: Christ and Satan. Those who have not passed through the waters of Baptism and, thereby, from death to life and from the devil’s kingdom to Christ’s Kingdom have Satan has their head; such persons are, as we all once were, dead in sin and trespass. We who have been baptized and believe are no longer members of the devil’s kingdom, slaves to sin and death; we have been given new life and we have Christ as our Head. Baptism is the first death and the first resurrection; those who experience the waters of Baptism will not taste the second death.

But do not tempt God and do not return to your old ways. Run the race to win — persevere to the end. Yes, you will stumble and even fall, but Christ will be there to lift you back to your feet — He will lose none of the sheep the Father has placed in HIs hands. ‘Open-eyed my grave is staring, / even there I’ll sleep secure.’ There are some Lutheran graves with two (Latin) words on them: “Baptizatus sum.” — “I am baptized.” You are a child of God — you belong to Him. Christ bought you with His blood.

In the first Adam — the head of our race — all men sinned; in the second Adam — Christ — all are offered new life in the waters of Holy Baptism. Christ is the Head of all those who have passed from death to life. He is the Head of the Church. But we are an unfaithful bride — we stray even after our Baptism and we must continually return to the Word and the Sacrament for the forgiveness of our sins and the renewal and strengthening of our faith. To the pharisees that tried to entrap Him, Christ declared that divorce was not part of God’s good plan, and that is good news for us: Christ washes His bride whiter than snow, and He will protect and preserve her. The Church will endure.

Amen.