Sermon: Jubilate (Easter 4) - 2018
11 hours ago
In the hour of his death no Christian should doubt that he is not alone. He can be certain, as the sacraments point out, that a great many eyes are upon him: first, the eyes of God and of Christ himself, for the Christian believes his words and clings to his sacraments; then also, the eyes of the dear angels, of the saints, and of all Christians. There is no doubt, as the Sacrament of the Altar indicates, that all of these in a body run to him as one of their own, help him overcome sin, death, and hell, and bear all things with him. In that hour the work of love and the communion of saints are seriously and mightily active. A Christian must see this for himself and have no doubt regarding it, for then he will be bold in death. He who doubts this does not believe in the most venerable Sacrament of the Body of Christ, in which are pointed out, promised, and pledged the communion, help, love, comfort, and support of all the saints in all times of need. If you believe in the signs and words of God, his eyes rest upon you, as he says in Psalm 32:8, my eyes will constantly be upon you lest you perish.
...God has enjoined us firmly to believe in the fulfillment of our prayer (Mark 11:24) and that it is truly an Amen. We must also bring this command of God to his attention and say, "My God you have commanded mt to pray and to believe that my prayer will be heard. For this reason I come to you in prayer and am assured that you will not forsake me but will grant me a genuine faith."
Moreover, we should implore God and his dear saints our whole life long for true faith int he last hour, as we sing so very fittingly on the day of Pentecost, "Now let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the true faith of all things the most, that in our last moments he may befriend us, and as home we go, he may tend us."
But how many are there today who know that the mass is the promise of Christ? I will say nothing of those godless preachers of fables, who teach human ordinances instead of this great promise. And even if they teach these words of Christ, they do not teach them as a promise or testament, neither therefore as a means of obtaining faith.
What we deplore in this captivity is that nowadays they take every precaution that no layman should hear these words of Christ, as if they were too sacred to be delivered to the common people. So mad are we priests that we arrogate to ourselves alone the so-called words of consecration, to be said secretly, yet in such way that they do not profit even us, for we too fail to regard them as promises or as a testament for the strengthening of the faith.
For God does not deal, nor has he ever dealt, with man otherwise than through a word of promise, as I have said. We in turn cannot deal with God otherwise than through faith in the Word of his promise. He does not desire works, nor has he need of them; rather we deal with men and with ourselves on the basis of works. But God has need of this: that we consider him faithful in his promises (Heb. 10: 23), and patiently persist in this belief, and thus worship him with faith, hope, and love. It is in this way that he obtains his glory among us, since it is not of ourselves who run, but of him who shows mercy (Rom 9:16), promises, and gives, that we have and hold all good things. Behold, this is that true worship and service of God which we ought to perform in the mass. But if the words of promise are not delivered, what exercise of faith can there be? And without faith, who can have hope or love?
... For anyone can easily see that these two, promise and faith, must necessarily go together. For without the promise there is nothing to be believed; while without faith the promise is useless, since it is established and fulfilled through faith. From this everyone will readily gather that the mass, since it is nothing but promise, can be approached and observed only in faith.
Aria: (we are talking about Judas having gone making arrangements for the betrayal.)
Blute nur, du liebes Herz! Ach, ein Kind, das du erzogen, das an deiner Brust gesogen, droht den Pfleger zu ermorden, denn es ist zur Schlange worden. (Bleed on, dear heart. Ah, a child that you raised, that sucked at your breast, threatens to murder its guardian, for it has become a serpent.)
Evangelist: Er sprach. (And he said.)
Jesus: Gehet hin in die Stadt zu einem, und sprechet zu ihm: Der Meister laesst dir sagen: Meine Zeit ist hier, ich will bei dir die Ostern halten mit meinen Juengern. (Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.)
Evangelist: Und die Juenger taten, wie ihnen Jesus befohlen hatte, und bereiteten das Osterlamm. Und am Abend setzte er sich zu Tische mit den Zwoelfen. Und da sie assen, sprach er: (And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the evening was come he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said,)
Jesus: Wahrlich ich sage euch: einer unter euch wird mich verraten. (Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.)
Evangelist: Und sie wurden sehr betruebt, und huben an, ein jeglicher unter ihnen, und sagten zu ihm: (And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began everyone of them to say unto him)
Chorus: Herr, bin ich's? (Lord, is it I?)
Choral: Ich bin's, ich sollte buessen, and Haenden und an Fuessen, gebunden in der Hoell! Die Geisseln und die Banden, und was du ausgestanden, das hat verdienet meine Seel. (It is I. I should atone, on my hands and feet, bound, in hell. The scourges and the fetters, and all that thou dist endure, that has my soul earned.)
Evangelist: Da antwortete Judas, der ihn verriet, und sprach: (Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said,)
Judas: Bin ich's Rabbi? (Master, is it I?)
Evangelist: Er sprach zu ihm: (He said unto him)
Jesus: Du sagest's (Thou hast said it.)
Evangelist: Da sie aber assen, nahm Jesus das Brot, dankete und brach's und gab's den Juengern und sprach: (And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said,)
Jesus: Nehmet, esset, das ist mein Leib. (Take, eat; this is my body.)
Evangelist: Und er nahm den Kelch und dankete, gab ihnen den, und sprach: (And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
Jesus: Trinket alle daraus, das ist mein Blut des neuen Testaments, welches vergossen wird fuer Viele, zur Vergebung der Suenden. Ich sage euch: Ich werde von nun an nicht mehr von diesem Gewaechs des Weinstocks trinkern, bis an den Tag, da ich's neu trinken werde mit euch in meines Vaters Reich. (Drink ye all o fit; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you: I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.)
Bits from the INTRO
Sermon from late 1518 or early 1519. Based on the traditional Epistle text for Palm Sunday. An early an clear statement of Luther’s understanding of how the righteousness of God has been manifested in Christ Jesus.
The first type of righteousness is alien or external righteousness, that which can never be found in a sinful human individual intrinsically, but which has been freely given in Jesus. This righteousness, given to the baptized and in repentance, allows the poor human being to claim all that Christ has accomplished on the cross. Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as I have lived, done, spoken, suffered and died as he did.
And this alien righteousness is the primary form; it, and it alone, is “the basis, the cause, the source of all our own actual righteousness."
This alien righteousness comes to us by grace alone, in preaching and in the sacraments. It comes both decisively and repeatedly, for ‘it is not instilled all at once, but it begins, makes progress, and is finally perfected at the end through death.” The gospel is precisely the news that this surprising possibility exists fur humanity, that God accepts sinners not through some exertion on their part, but freely, and for Christ’s sake.
Alien righteousness must come first. But there is also a second kind or type of righteousness, that which flourishes in that woman or man who has found justification in Christ Jesus. Here Luther comes to ethics, to good work, to the love of neighbour and life in the world. But all of this is lived not according to one’s own inherent possibility; the women or man in Christ lives only in reflection of and response to that alien righteousness that has been received as a gift.
TWO KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Brethren, “have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (Phil.2:5-6)
There are two kinds of Christian righteousness, just as man’s sin is of two kinds.
The first is alien righteousness that is the righteousness of another, instilled from without. This is the righteousness of Christ by which he justifies through faith, as it is written in 1 Cor. 1:30: “Whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” In John 11 (25-26) Christ himself states: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me…shall never die. Later he adds in John 14(6) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” This righteousness, then is given to men in baptism and whenever they are truly repentant. Therefore a man can with confidence boast in Christ and say: “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did.”
(He brings in more Bible passages)
Through faith in Christ therefore, Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness and all that he has becomes ours; rather, he himself becomes ours.
Therefore this alien righteousness, instilled in us without our works by grace alone—while the Father, to be sure, inwardly draws us to Christ—is set opposite original sin, likewise alien, which we acquire without our works by birth alone. Christ daily drives out the old Adam more and more in accordance with the extent to which faith and knowledge of Christ grow. For alien righteousness is not instilled all at once but it begins, makes progress, and is finally perfected at the end through death.
The second kind of righteousness is our proper righteousness, not because we alone work it, but because we work with that first and alien righteousness. this is that manner of life spent profitably in good works, in the first place, in slaying the flesh and crucifying the desires with respect to the self, of which we read in Gal. 5:24: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” In the second place, this righteousness consists in love to one’s neighbour, and in the third place, in meekness and fear toward God. The Apostle is full of references to these, as is all the rest of Scriptures. He briefly summarizes everything, however, in Titus 2:12: “In this world let us live soberly (pertaining to crucifying one’s own flesh), justly (referring to one’s neighbour), and devoutly (relating to God).”
This righteousness is the product of the righteousness of the first type, actually its fruit and consequence, for we read in Ga. 5:22: “But the fruit of the spirit (i.e., of a spiritual man, whose very existence depends on faith in Christ) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” This righteousness goes on to complete the first for it ever strives to do away with the old Adam and to destroy the body of sin. Therefore it hates itself and loves its neighbour; it does not seek its own good, but that of another, and this its whole way of living consists. For in that it hates itself and does not seek its own, it crucifies the flesh. Because it seeks the good of another, it works love. Thus in each sphere it does God’s will, living soberly with self, justly with neighbour, devoutly toward God.
This righteousness follows the example of Christ in this respect (I Peter 2:21) and is transformed into his likeness (II Cor. 3:18). It is precisely this that Christ requires. Just as he himself did all things for us, not seeking his own good but ours only—and in this he was most obedient to God the Father—so he desires that we also should set the same example for our neighbours.
…This is what the text we are now considering says: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). This means you should be as inclined and disposed toward one another as you see Christ was disposed toward you.
… He was not like the Pharisee who said, “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men”, for that man was delighted that others were wretched; at any rate he was unwilling that they should be like him. This is the type of robbery by which a man usurps things for himself—rather, he keeps what he has and does not clearly ascribe to God the things that are Gods’, nor does he serve others with them that he may become like other men. Men of this kind wish to be like God, sufficient in themselves, pleasing themselves, glorying in themselves, under obligation to no one, and so on. Not thus, however, did Christ think; not of this stamp was his wisdom. He relinquished that form to God the Father and emptied himself, unwilling to use his rank against us, unwilling to be different from us. Moreover, for our sakes he became as one of us and took the form of a servant, that is, he subjected himself to all evils. And although he was free, as the Apostle says of himself also (I Cor. 9:19), he made himself servant of all (Mark 9:35), living as if all the evils which were ours were actually his own.
…The Apostle means that each individual Christian shall become the servant of another in accordance with the example of Christ. If one has wisdom, righteousness, or power with which one can excel others and boast in the “form of God, “ so to speak, one should not keep all this to himself, but surrender it to God and become altogether as if he did not possess it (II Cor. 6:10), as one of those who lack it.
Paul’s meaning is that when each person has forgotten himself and emptied himself of God’s gifts, he should conduct himself as if his neighbor’s weakness, sin, and foolishness were his very own. He should not boast or get puffed up. Nor should he despise or triumph over his neighbour as if he were God or equal to God. Since God’s prerogatives ought to be left to God alone, it becomes robbery when a man in haughty foolhardiness ignores this fact. It is in this way, then, that one takes the form of a servant, and that command of the Apostle in Gal. 5:13 is fulfilled: “Through love be servants of one another.”
They contemplate Christ's passion aright who view it with a terror-stricken heart and a despairing conscience. This terror must be felt as you witness the stern wrath and the unchanging earnestness with which God looks upon sin and sinners, so much so that he was unwilling to release sinners even for his only and dearest Son without his payment of the severest penalty for them. Thus he says in Isaiah 53:8: "I have chastised him for the transgressions of my people." If the dearest child is punished thus, what will be the fate of sinners? It must be an inexpressible and unbearable earnestness that forces such a great and infinite person to suffer and die to appease it. And if you seriously consider that it is God's very own Son, the eternal wisdom of the Father, who suffers, you will be terrified indeed. The more you think about it, the more intensely will you be frightened.
You must get this thought through your head and not doubt that you are the one who is torturing Christ thus, for your sins have surely wrought this. In Acts 2: 36,37 St. Peter frightened the Jews like a peal of thunder when he said to all of them, "You crucified him." Consequently three thousand alarmed and terrified Jews asked the apostles on that one day, "O dear brethren, what shall we do now?" Therefore, when you see the nails piercing Christ's hands, you can be certain that it is your work. When you behold his crown of thorns, you may rest assured that these are your evil thoughts, etc.
...Until now we have sojourned in Passion Week and rightly celebrated Good Friday. Now we come to the resurrection of Christ, to the day of Easter. After man has thus become aware of his sin and is terrified in his heart, he must watch that sin does not remain in his conscience, for this would lead to sheer despair. Just as our knowledge of sin flowed from Christ ans was acknowledged by us, so we must pour this sin back on him and free our conscience of it. Therefore beware, lest you do as those perverse people who torture their hearts with their sins and strive to do the impossible, namely, get rid of their sins by running from one good work or penance to another, or by working their way out of this by means of indulgences. Unfortunately such false confidence in penance and pilgrimages is widespread.
... After your heart has thus become firm in Christ, and love, not fear of pain, has made you a foe of sin, then Christ's passion must from that day on become a pattern for your entire life. Henceforth you will have to see his passion differently. Until now we regarded it as a sacrament which is active in us while we are passive, but now we find that we too must be active, namely, in the following. If pain or sickness afflicts you, consider how paltry this is in comparison with the thorny crown and the nails of Christ. If you are obliged to do or to refrain from doing things against your wishes, ponder how Christ was bound and captured and led hither and yon. If you are best by pride, see how your Lord was mocked and ridiculed along with criminals. If unchastity and lust assail you, remember how ruthlessly Christ's tender flesh was scourged, pierced, and beaten. If hatred, envy, and vindictiveness beset you, recall that Christ, who indeed had more reason to avenge himself interceded with tears and cries for you and for all his enemies. If sadness or any adversity, physical or spiritual, distresses you, strengthen your heart and say, "Well, why should I not be willing to bear a little grief, when agonies and fears caused my Lord to sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane? He who lies abed while his master struggles in the throes of death is indeed a slothful and disgraceful servant."
So then this is how we can draw strength and encouragement from Christ against every vice and failing. That is a proper contemplation of Christ's passion, and such are its fruits....Those who thus make Christ's life and name a part of their own lives are true Christians. St. Paul says, "Those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with all its desires. Christ's passion must be met not with words or forms, but with life and truth.
Thesis 7: The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.