What is a Preacher to Preach?

Epiphany 4 Sunday

Matthew 5:1-2

“When he saw the people, he went up a mountain and sat down. And his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth, taught them, and said…”

A preacher should not only have his office publicly, so that everybody else has to be quiet and let him appear as the one who has divine right and order. He should also freely and confidently open his mouth. That is to say, he should preach the truth and what he is told to preach. Let him not be silent or mumble. Let him without fear confess and tell it as it is, respecting or sparing no one, no matter who is struck by his words. For it really gets in the way of a preacher, if he looks over his shoulder and is concerned about what people would and would not like to hear, or what may mean disfavor, harm, or danger for him. Rather, as he stands high upon a mountain, in a public place, and freely looks around, so he should also speak freely, not fearing anyone, even though he sees many people and heads. Let him not mince words. Let him not have any regard for gracious or angry lords; for money, wealth, honor, and power; for shame, poverty, and harm. Let him think no farther than to speak that which is demanded by the office because of which he stands there. For Christ did not institute the preaching office to help a person gain money, possessions, favors, honors, and friendship or to seek any other advantage, but to publicize the truth freely, to rebuke what is evil, and to say what pertains to the soul’s benefit and salvation. For God’s Word is not given to teach us how a household servant is to do his or her job and earn
a living, how a mayor should govern a city, or how a farm er should plow or make hay. In summary, God’s Word neither gives nor shows temporal goods by which this life is maintained. For reason has taught all this to everyone beforehand. Rather, God’s Word wants to teach how we should come to that other life; and it teaches you how to use this life and to feed your body for as long as it lasts, so that you may know where you are to remain and live when this life must cease. Now, when one begins to preach about a different life that we are to seek, and for whose sake we should not think that we will remain here on earth forever, then the arguments and controversies begin because the world does not want to put up
with it. This is why a preacher who prefers his belly and temporal life will not do. To be sure, he stands in the pulpit and
blathers on and on, but he does not preach the truth. He does not open his mouth. When things get rough, he falls silent and does not bite the fox. See, this is why Matthew first described the circumstance that Christ, as a true preacher, goes up the mountain and freely opens his mouth, teaches the truth, and rebukes both false teaching and false living, as we shall hear.

St. Louis ed., 7:353-355.

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