In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We are surrounded by offices. We have buildings full of rooms called offices. Most buildings including house tend to have an “office” in them. But why? For an office is not a room. An office is some official authority granted to an individual.
Thus we have officers of the Law: police. And officers of the Gospel: pastors. Officers of Law have authority from the State to uphold the law of the land. Officers of the Gospel have authority from God to forgive those who break His law. That is what an office is: authority to do something.
There are offices all around us. Virtually any job or calling in a workplace or family has certain authorities given to it, thus a certain office. Some are greater, some are lesser. For instance a Chief Executive Officer of company has authority to oversee every aspect of the company. A Chief Financial Officer has authority over all things financial in the company. A garbage man has authority to take away your garbage. If anyone else grabs junk off your property it would be called theft. A surgeon has authority to cut people so as to heal them. If anyone else does that we send them to jail. A parent has authority to discipline, feed, and raise their children. If anyone else does that we parents lose our minds, and the police may even be called suspecting some sort of stranger danger like kidnapping, etc.
Authority to do things is important. Especially for Christ’s Church on earth. If someone is not authorized to act in His place, it draws the Sacraments of the Church and the forgiveness proclaimed in that place into doubt. It splits congregations, and the Lord’s blessing is not upon them. It doesn’t mean that such a congregation may not grow, but any growth it receives will not be from the Lord, and will instead be only because of human effort, and will only last as long as that same human effort is poured into it. Without an authorized officer a congregation ceases to be a lighthouse guiding souls to safe harbour by proclaiming Christ crucified, and turns instead into a coffee clutch, a country club, an association of like-minded people who like each other’s company. But with Christ’s authorized officers the Church is the kingdom of God in this world. It is Christ Himself present in this world. It is led by His Word, fed by His Word, created by His Baptism, sustained and invigorated by His life blood pumping in Her arteries.
We hardly know anything about Titus apart from the fact that he was a pastor sent to preach Christ. He was specially sent by Paul to the island of Crete to appoint more pastors in all the churches planted by Paul. More pastors who would do the same thing. Pastors who were officers of Christ, with Christ’s authority, acting in Christ’s stead, calling all to repentance and forgiving their sins.
Today salvation is yours through my preaching Christ to you. It doesn’t matter that my preaching isn’t that impressive because it is Jesus who acts through my office. He is the one who called, sent, and authorized me. The only difference between the Twelve Apostles’ office and my office is that my call is to a specific place/congregation. Their’s were to entire nations and people groups. Just as Paul’s was to the Gentiles, and Peter’s to the Jews. And various apostles went to various nations, etc. Plus, the Twelve were the original eyewitnesses of all Christ our Lord taught and did. They had specific authorization by our Lord to give witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of earth of all He had done. They did this in their lives, preaching, and writing.
But wherever the preaching of Christ’s sin conquering life and death takes root in the hearts of men more officers are needed to continue to preach. For this faith needs to be tended. Satan, the world, and your own sinful nature do not want faith in Him to flourish in you. For where He is proclaimed, where faith takes roots in the hearts and lives of people the Kingdom of God takes root. That means Satan’s kingdom comes to an end. Satan’s works are defeated, cast out, broken, ended. A war begins wherever Christ is proclaimed. Thus, with such terrible forces aligned against Christ’s holy ones some heavy artillery is needed to keep your enemies at bay, and your faith alive. That’s why our Lord gives the biggest guns there are to His Church: the ongoing preaching of Himself and giving out of Himself in His Sacraments!
Just as a husband and wife can not keep their love alive if say the wedding vows, but then live apart, never see each other, or if they live together they were to constantly ignore each other, abuse each other verbally or physically, etc. So it is with Christ’s officers who give His love to His people: if they abuse the people by engaging in the things Titus was told that preachers must not do, or fail to do the things told they must do, then the Word of Christ’s love which is eternal can be undermined, distorted, frustrated in the hearts of hearers. Satan will use a preacher’s failings to try to scandalize the word about Christ. He can’t contradict or defeat that Word, but he can sure cause you to focus on the officer and despise the officer, and ignore Christ’s Word.
For instance if you see a police speeding and driving recklessly even without the emergency lights flashing, and then that officers pulls you over and tickets you for same, that officer has authority to do that. But you will be angered, frustrated, tempted to hate him, and despise his office. You will be tempted to flout the law and break all the more, since the officers of the law despise it too.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON