It is somewhat rare that preachers get a blessing as a sermon text, but that is what Jude gives us. The genre is entirely fitting for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, especially if your congregation has had a tough year (you know what I mean).
This week we come to the end of our readings in Hebrews for Series B. There is a lot here, so rather than argue about the cohesion of the text, which I hope becomes obvious, let us get right to a few avenues for preaching. The pericope from 10:11-25 fits beautifully with the week’s theme and church’s preparation for Christ’s return.
Two major themes seem to be running through the readings for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost. The first weaves together the widow who gave of her poverty in Mark 12 and the story of the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings 17, who also gave to the prophet everything that she had… However, the other theme comes by way of the Epistle from Hebrews 9:24-28, which is about the temple made without hands.
The Feast of the Reformation affords preachers a special opportunity to catechize on the doctrine of justification by faith. It is also a perfect week for us to read through Romans in full for our devotions. It is an opportunity to hear again those marvelous words of absolution and sins forgiven and to recognize a righteousness which is revealed apart from the Law (Rom. 3:21); our need for absolution must be very great.
The “entering into His rest” of Hebrews 4:1 is paralleled with Jesus’ words in the Gospel for the day: “How difficult it is for those having riches to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Love of riches or material wealth certainly bars us from God’s kingdom and eternal rest. They weigh us down miserably. Israel’s idolatry, however, was not only about the love of money.
The Epistle’s correlation with the Gospel or Old Testament readings is not always obvious, as every preacher knows. This week, however, the connection is rather clear. Love of money is evil idolatry that draws us away from the living God, transgresses the First Commandment, and leads us to trust in worldly securities rather than Christ.