September 25, 2022

Miscellaneous Quotes from Martin Luther (1483–1546) Related to the Love of God and the Death of Christ for the Sins of the Whole World and Human Race

Select Works:

Volume 4:
This is therefore a new prophecy never heard of any one before. For here, the one Christ alone casts away the general punishment of the whole human race, contained in Gen. 3 “And unto dust shalt thou return:” nor does the scripture, which consigns all men to dust, ever say any such thing of any one but Christ. He alone, by a new and glorious MICHTAM, bears this sweet and all-gladdening news,—that his flesh should not return to dust, but should, in peace, die with the fullest expectation.
Martin Luther, Select Works of Martin Luther: An Offering to the Church of God in “The Last Days,” trans. Henry Cole, vol. IV (London: T. Bensley, 1826), 142; Psalm 16:9.
Thus does the Holy Spirit [in Psalm 2:12] include in this one expression the whole world with all its wisdom, righteousness, merits, worship, adoration, and affliction, and makes all to consist in kissing the Son. If, says he, ye kiss the Son, well! but if not, ye shall perish under wrath. For the Son will at length be angry. He now offers you an opportunity of kissing him. He has a singular love for the human race, for he came down and took our flesh upon him, not that he might judge or condemn us, but that he might kiss us, and shew us the love with which he embraces us: if, therefore, ye do not kiss him, no religion, no righteousness, no wisdom shall save you: but ye shall surely remain under wrath and there perish. But the world regards not these threats; they think that the reverse will be the case; they hope in the mercy of God through their own works and righteousness: but in vain, for the whole is settled, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Martin Luther, Select Works of Martin Luther: An Offering to the Church of God in “The Last Days,” trans. Henry Cole, vol. IV (London: T. Bensley, 1826), 550.

Luther’s Works:

Volume 12:
For what is there in Christ that is not full of consolation, lovable, and delightful? When you see Him hanging on the cross, dripping with blood, and when you refer these things, according to His own words, to the will of God, will not this make the name of God sweet instead of horrible? Not only will you fear no evil from God, who sends His own Son for this purpose; but will you not also be filled with a sure hope of His mercy and love toward you and the whole human race?
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 12: Selected Psalms I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 12 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 50.
In this way the Holy Spirit with one word [in Psalm 2:12] gathers up the whole world with all its wisdom, righteousness, merits, services, adorations, and chastisements, and transposes it all into the Sons kiss. “If you kiss the Son, good. If not, you will perish in the way. For it will come to pass,” He says, “that the Son will at last be angry. Now He offers you a kiss so that He may receive your kiss in turn. Truly He embraces the whole human race with extraordinary love. For He comes in our flesh not to judge or condemn, but in order to kiss us and show us the love with which He surrounds us. If, then, you will not kiss Him in return, no religion, no righteousness, no wisdom will save you. You will simply remain under His wrath and perish in His anger.” But the world is not concerned with these threats. It imagines that things will turn out quite differently. It hopes for God’s grace through its own works and righteousness. Certainly the judgment is definite: “He who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 12: Selected Psalms I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 12 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 89–90; Psalm 2:12. And keep in mind that Luther said these types of things knowing full well that “counterfeit saints claim God’s love [of complacency] though they are under [His] hate [of abomination].” See Luther’s Works, Vol. 12: Selected Psalms I (Saint Louis: CPH, 1999), 355; Psalm 51:6.

Volume 22:  
It is true, the evangelist might have said: “The Word became man.” However, he adapts himself to Scriptural parlance and says: “He became flesh.” He does so to point out its weakness and its mortality. For Christ took on the human nature, which was mortal and subject to the terrible wrath and judgment of God because of the sins of the human race. And this anger was felt by the weak and mortal flesh of Christ.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1–4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 22 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 111.

Volume 24:  
Here not only the unbelief implanted in human nature since Adam is meant; but it is clear that the refusal to believe in Christ is spoken of, namely, the refusal to acknowledge our sin and to seek and obtain grace through Christ when the Gospel of Christ is preached. For when Christ appeared, His suffering and death did away before God with the sin of Adam and of the whole human race—namely, the former unbelief and disobedience—and He erected a new heaven of grace and forgiveness, so that this sin inherited from Adam will no longer keep us under the wrath and condemnation of God if we believe in this Savior. From now on, therefore, he who is damned dare no longer complain about Adam and his sin inherited from Adam; for this Seed of a woman, who was to crush the serpent’s head according to God’s promise (Gen. 3:15), has now come, paid for this sin, and removed the condemnation. But such a person must accuse himself, because he did not accept and believe in this Christ, who crushed the devil’s head and destroyed sin.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14–16, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 24 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 343–44.

Volume 26: 
All these things happen, not through the Law or works but through Christ the crucified, on whose shoulders lie all the evils of the human race—the Law, sin, death, the devil, and hell—all of which die in Him, because by His death He kills them. But we must accept this blessing of Christ with a firm faith. For just as what is offered to us is neither the Law nor any of its works but Christ alone, so what is required of us is nothing but faith, which takes hold of Christ and believes that my sin and death are damned and abolished in the sin and death of Christ.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1–4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 26 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 160.

Volume 27:  
Another interpretation is an affirmative one, namely, that he who receives circumcision is also obligated to keep the whole Law. For he who accepts Moses in one point is obliged to accept him in all points. He who observes one part of the Law as a matter of necessity must observe all the other parts of it. Nor does it help if you want to say that circumcision is necessary, but that the remaining laws of Moses are not. The same principle by which you are obliged to receive circumcision obliges you to accept the whole Law. Now to observe the whole Law is tantamount to pointing out in fact that the Christ has not yet come. If this is true, then all the Jewish ceremonies and laws about foods, places, and seasons must be observed; and we must still look for the Christ, who is to make the kingdom and priesthood of the Jews obsolete and is to establish a new kingdom throughout the world. But all Scripture testifies, and the facts themselves show, that Christ has already come, has redeemed the human race by His death, has abrogated the Law and has fulfilled what all the prophets predicted about Him. Therefore He abolished the Law and granted grace and truth (John 1:17). Accordingly, the Law does not justify; neither do its works. It is faith in the Christ who has already come that justifies.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 27: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 5-6; 1519, Chapters 1–6, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 27 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 15.

Volume 33:  
It is characteristic of this apostle [John] to use this word “world” to mean precisely the whole race of men. … John too speaks of the world antithetically, so that “world” means everything that has not been taken out of the world into the Spirit
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 33: Career of the Reformer III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 33 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 277.
[St. John: Free Choice Is of “the World,” “the Flesh”; Grace Is of Christ, by Faith. The Two Are Opposites]22

Let us now come to John, who is also an eloquent and powerful devastator of free choice. At the very outset, he represents free choice as so blind that it cannot even see the truth, let alone be able to strive toward it. For he says: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend it” [John 1:5]; and shortly afterward: “He was in the world, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not” [vv. 10 f.]. What do you think he means by “world”? Will you exempt any man from this description unless he has been recreated by the Holy Spirit? It is characteristic of this apostle to use this word “world” to mean precisely the whole race of men. Hence, whatever he says about the world applies also to free choice as the most excellent thing in man. Thus according to this apostle, the world does not know the light of truth [v. 10], the world hates Christ and those who are his [John 15:18 f.], the world neither knows nor sees the Holy Spirit [John 14:17], the whole world is in the power of the evil one [1 John 5:19], all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life [1 John 2:16]. “You,” he says, “are of the world” [John 8:23]. “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” [John 7:7]. All these and many similar passages proclaim the glories of free choice, that principal part of the world and that which governs it under the overlordship of Satan.

For John too speaks of the world antithetically, so that “world” means everything that has not been taken out of the world into the Spirit, as Christ says to the apostles: “I took you out of the world and appointed you,” etc. [John 15:16, 19]. If now there were any in the world who by the powers of free choice were endeavoring toward the good (which should be the case if free choice were able to do anything), John ought surely to have limited the word out of respect for these people, so as not to implicate them, by using a general term, in all the evils of which he accuses the world. As he does not do this, it is evident that he makes free choice guilty of all the charges brought against the world, since whatever the world does, it does by the power of free choice, or in other words, by means of reason and will, which are its most notable components.
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22 WA 18, 776–783.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 33: Career of the Reformer III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 33 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 277–78.

Volume 42:  
Our Lord and Savior Jesus has left us a commandment which applies equally to all Christians, namely, that we are to render humanitarian services, or rather (as the Scriptures call them), the works of mercy [Luke 6:36], to those who are afflicted and in a state of calamity, and that we are to visit the sick, try to free the captives, and do similar things for our neighbor so that the evils of the present may be somewhat lessened. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself gave us the brightest example of this commandment when, because of his infinite love for the race of men, he descended from the bosom of the Father into our misery and our prison, that is, into our flesh and our most wretched life, and took upon himself the penalty for our sins so that we might be saved, as he says in Isaiah 43 [:24], “You have burdened me with your sins, and you have wearied me with your iniquities.”
Martin Luther, “Fourteen Consolations,” in Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55 vols. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 42:121–22.

Volume 46:  
This is how the children of God look at things, for God himself spares the whole human race for the sake of one man, whose name is Jesus Christ; if he were to look at men alone, he would have nothing but wrath. The preaching office and temporal authority of course cannot do this; they cannot ignore or shut their eyes to evil. For they must punish the bad, one with the word, the other with the sword. In saying all this I am speaking to individual Christians. I am saying that they should learn to distinguish between God’s work and men’s wickedness. In all of God’s offices and estates there are many wicked men; but the estate itself is good and remains good no matter how much men misuse it. You find many bad women, many false servants, many unfaithful maids, many despicable officials and counselors; nevertheless, the estates themselves—wife, servant, maid, and all the offices—are God’s institution, work, and ordinance. The sun remains good, even though everyone misuses it, one to rob and another to kill, one to do this kind of evil and another that. And who could do any evil at all if he did not have the sun to light his way, the earth to hold him up and nourish him, and the air to keep him alive—in short, God himself to sustain him? The saying remains true, “The whole creation was subjected to futility, but not of its own will” (Romans 8 [:20]).
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 46: The Christian in Society III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 46 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 248.

Volume 51:
A question. If it is true that Lazarus and the other dead persons must be understood as signifying sin, how does this accord with the Gospel when the evangelist says in the speech of Martha, “Lord, he whom you love is ill” and “See how he loved him”? [John 11:3, 36]. Is it not true that Christ does not love the sinner but rather the truth, as the Scriptures says, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness” [Ps. 45:7] and “In my sight the sinner is scorned”? [cf. Ps. 5:5]. The answer is this: My dear man, [comfort yourself with this saying,] “I came not for the sake of the righteous, but to make righteous what is unrighteous and sinful and to lead the sinners to repentance” [cf. Matt. 9:13].

The whole human race was worthy of hatred, and yet Christ loved us. For if he had not loved us, he would not have descended from heaven. For the prophet says in the psalm: “There is none that does good,” except one; “they have all become corrupt and sinners” [cf. Ps. 14:3] except Christ alone. So Christ loves the sinner at the command of the Father, who sent Him for our comfort. So the Father wills that we should look to Christ’s humanity and love him in return, but yet in such a way as to remember that he did all this at the bidding of Father’s supreme good pleasure. Otherwise it is terrifying to think of Christ. For to the Father is ascribed power, to the Son, wisdom, and to the Holy Spirit goodness, which we can never attain and of which we must despair.

But when we know and consider that Christ came down from heaven and loved sinners in obedience to the Father, then there springs up in us a bold approach to and firm hope in Christ. We learn that Christ is the real epistle, the golden book, in which we read and learn how he always kept before him the will of the Father. So Christ is the “access to the Father” [Eph. 2:18] as St. Paul says. And John too bears witness that Christ said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” [John 14:6]. “I am also the door” [John 10:7] and “no one comes to the Father, but by me” [John 14:6]. Now we see that there is no shorter way to the Father except that we love Christ, hope and trust in him, boldly look to him for everything good, learn to know and praise him. For then it will be impossible that we should have a miserable, frightened, dejected conscience; in Christ it will be heartened and refreshed. But the Scriptures say concerning the sinners: “The wicked shall perish and be driven away like dust” [cf. Ps. 1:4, 6]. Therefore the sinners flee and know not where to go; for when the conscience does not hope and trust in God it cowers and trembles before the purity and righteousness of God. It can have no sweet assurance; it flees and still has nowhere to go unless it finds and catches hold of Christ, the true door and anchor. Yes, this is the way that all Christians should learn. But we go plunging on, taking hold in our own name, with our understanding and reason, and do not see or ever take to heart how kindly, sweetly, and lovingly Christ has dealt with people. For the Father commanded him to do so. This tastes sweet to the faithful soul and it gives all the glory, praise, and honor to the Father through the Son, Christ Jesus. So God has nothing but the best and he offers it to us, weeds us, sustains us, and cares for us through his Son. That’s the way our hearts are changed to follow Christ.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Sermons I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 51 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 45–47.
Sermon on Cross and Suffering, Preached at Coburg the Saturday before Easter, Based on the Passion History, April 16, 1530

A Harmony of Matthew 27; Luke 23, and John 19

This sermon was preached on the day after Luther’s arrival at Feste Coburg where he stayed during the Diet of Augsburg at which the Augsburg Confession was presented. Among the congregation in the chapel of the castle were the Elector John, Count Albrecht of Mansfeld, Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, Veit Dietrich, John Agricola, and some thirty retainers of the Elector. Notes for the sermon were taken down by Veit Dietrich, who prepared the printed version of 1530, but the notes themselves were incorporated in Georg Rörer’s collection. Another transcript by Stoltz is also extant.

Text in German; WA 32, 28–39.

Dear friends, you know that it is customary in this season to preach on the Passion, so I have no doubt that you have heard many times what kind of passion and suffering it was. You have also heard why it was that God the Father ordained it, namely, that through it he wanted to help, not the person for Christ, for Christ had no need at all for this suffering; but we and the whole human race needed this suffering. Thus it was a gift which was given and presented to us out of pure grace and mercy. But we shall not deal with these points now, for I have often spoken of them on other occasions.

WA D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar, 1883– ).
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Sermons I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 51 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 197–98.

Volume 54:  
No. 5071: “He Hardens the Heart of Whomever He Wills”
Between June 11 and 19, 1540


Somebody asked [Martin Luther], “Is the hardening of the heart in the Scriptures88 to be taken literally or figuratively?”

The doctor replied, “Literally, but not actively, because God doesn’t do anything that’s bad. Yet his omnipotence does everything, and as he finds man, so he acts on him. Pharaoh was by nature wicked; God acted on him, and Pharaoh continued to be wicked.89 His heart was hardened because God didn’t hinder Pharaoh’s ungodly plans by his Spirit and grace. Why God didn’t hinder them is not for us to ask. This ‘why’ destroys many souls when they search after that which is too high for us. God says, ‘Why I am doing this you do not know, but ponder my Word, believe in Christ, pray, and I will make everything turn out well.’ If God should be asked at the last judgment, ‘Why did you permit Adam to fall?’ and he answered, ‘In order that my goodness toward the human race might be understood when I gave my Son for man’s salvation,’ we would say, ‘Let the whole human race fall again in order that thy glory may become known! Because thou hast accomplished so much through Adam’s fall we do not understand thy ways.’ “There is a threefold light: that of reason, that of grace, and that of glory.”
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88 Cf. Rom. 9:18.
89 Cf. Exod. 7:13.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 385–86. On Luther’s view, God permitted Adam to all in order that He might display His goodness toward the human race in giving His Son for the whole human race’s salvation.

Volume 58:  
So, then, John was sent to bring people to the Baptism of repentance. But his office was appointed chiefly and especially to testify to Christ and to baptize Him. [John]’s proper and true title, therefore, is “the baptizer of the Lord Christ.” For if Christ had not been baptized with us, indeed, for our sakes, then we are lost. But now because the Lord God has laid the sins of all men upon Him, so that He must bear them and make satisfaction for them, He comes to John and has Himself baptized by him for the benefit of you, of me, and of all the world, in order to cleanse us from sins and to make us righteous and blessed.

Thus He also sacrifices Himself on the cross, becoming a sinner and a curse [Gal. 3:13]. And yet He alone is the blessed Seed [Gen. 3:15] through whom the whole world is blessed [Gen. 22:18], that is, through whom it must be redeemed from sin and death. But He hangs on the cross between two evildoers, is reckoned as their equal, and there dies a shameful death. He does that for the benefit of the whole human race, to redeem it from the eternal curse. Therefore, He is both the greatest and only sinner on earth, for He bears the sins of the whole world, and also the only righteous and holy One, since no one is made righteous and holy before God except through Him.

John himself testifies concerning Him: “Behold, the Lamb of God” [John 1:29]—who must be holy, pure, and innocent indeed. But what else does he say about Him? “Who bears the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. If He bears the world’s sin, He must of course be a sinner, indeed, a sinner alone, because the Holy Spirit is not joking when He says through the prophet: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” [Isa. 53:6], and through John: “Behold, the Lamb of God who bears the sins of the world” [John 1:29]. Now, whoever believes that his own sins and the sins of all the world are laid on our dear Lord and that it was on account of this that He was baptized, was nailed to the cross, and there poured out His precious blood for us so that He, as the sole bearer of sins and the propitiator, might cleanse us from our sins and justify and save us—[whoever believes that] has the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and Christ’s Baptism, cross, and blood become his own. For inasmuch as He is pure and innocent in Himself, He could have easily been spared it and been neither baptized nor crucified. But He did so to serve the whole human race. Whoever believes this possesses it.
Martin Luther, “First Sermon at the Baptism of Bernard of Anhalt Matthew 3:1–17,” in Luther’s Works: Sermons V, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. Jon Steffen Bruss, vol. 58 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010), 45–46.
[Paul] says that we are already saved. For since sin and death have been taken away, God is kind and loving toward humanity and reveals Himself out of pure mercy; thus death is already gone and the Savior of the human race is present in kindness and says, “I give you everything out of pure mercy, not because of your works of righteousness.” We do not yet see these divine blessings; rather, we possess them in hope. If we receive this Savior with our hearts and believe in Him, then sin and death are gone, and heaven is opened. What has He gotten in return? How has He saved me? He is my Savior, not because of my works but because of His mercy.
Martin Luther, “Afternoon Sermon for the First Sunday after Epiphany, Titus 3:4–8,” in Luther’s Works: Sermons V, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. James Langebartels, vol. 58 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010), 394.
For there it was made known and revealed by God Himself that a woman should bear a son, who would be called her own (the woman’s) Seed, so that the woman therefore would be a natural human being and the child her natural son, except that He would be the offspring of the woman alone, that is, not begotten from or through a man. He would have power and authority to trample the head (that is, the power) of the serpent (the devil, who through Adam and Eve brought the whole human race under his power, into death and eternal damnation) and thereby redeem the human race from sin, the wrath of God, and eternal death. That would certainly have to be a special person: not simply someone greater than an ordinary human being born of man and woman but also someone greater than an angel, because the devil, whose head He is supposed to trample, is himself of the highest angelic nature.

It is as if God were with these words clearly saying: “I will make Him be a natural man, born of a woman, yet not conceived from a man in the natural or common human manner. He will not only have a human nature like you, Adam and Eve”—for then He could not have authority to trample the serpent underfoot, just as they, even before the fall, though they were created without sin, did not have power and authority to do so—“but He shall be both natural man and true God, as the one who is the Lord over the devil and all his power, and He Himself shall accomplish the work of obliterating the devil, death, sin, and hell, which is a work that lies in the power of the divine Majesty alone.” Nevertheless, He must be a different person from the one who speaks these things and makes the promise of a person who will be the woman’s Seed and trample the serpent, and yet He must be of the same divine essence and of the same eternal God, since there is no more than one God. Therefore, He must be the eternal Son of God.

And so this article concerning Christ has been preached and believed, from the beginning of the world on, by all the holy patriarchs and prophets: that Christ would be both true man, as the promised Seed of the woman, and also true God and Lord over all creatures, over sin, the devil, and death, as the one who would accomplish the work of atonement and redemption of the human race from the eternal wrath and condemnation of God that came over us according to the righteous judgment of God, and who would destroy the work of the devil. As St. John says, the Son of God Himself had to appear in order to destroy the work of the devil [1 John 3:8], that is, to free us from our eternal bonds under God’s wrath and from hell.
Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Matthew 8 [:23–27],” in Luther’s Works: Sermons V, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. Adam Francisco, vol. 58 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010), 416–17.

Volume 61:  
Fourth, he [Luther] spoke about which one is the true Christian Church, for which Christ had died, shed His blood, redeemed, and purchased them, namely, that it was not the desperate evildoers, the bishops and clerics in the papacy, who are burdened with arrogance, greed, tyranny, gluttony, and ⟨all⟩ other vices, and who consorted with whores; Christ did not purchase such people with His precious, worthy blood, etc.
Martin Luther, “Against Johann Agricola of Eisleben (1540/1549),” in Luther’s Works: Theological and Polemical Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes and Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. Gerhard P. Maag, vol. 61 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2021), 383–84; Report on [Martin] Luther’s Sermon at the Consecration of Nicolaus Von Amsdorf as Bishop of Naumburg, January 20, 1542. I am listing this quote as potential evidence for a limited view. Calvin’s comment to Heshusius sound similar. However, I think Luther is speaking to application. In other words, such wicked people show that they are not effectually redeemed or purchased by Christ.

Volume 73:  
[Response of Theodor] Fabricius: What is contained in the psalm—“You have forsaken Me” [Ps. 22:1]—is, in the Hebrew: “You have made Him lack divinity for a little while” [Ps. 8:5]. It does not mean that Christ stopped being true God, but that in the agony of death He did not sense His divinity [WA 39/2:281–82] on account of the mass of sins which He bore for the human race.

WA D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. 73 volumes in 85. Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–.
Martin Luther, “Disputation on the Invocation of God and on Repentance (Doctoral Disputation for Theodor Fabricius and Stanislaus Rapagelanus) Theses by Philip Melanchthon (May 23, 1544),” in Luther’s Works: Disputations II, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown and Benjamin T. G. Mayes, trans. Eric G. Phillips and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 73 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2020), 450.
[Response of Georg] Major:91 He could [have done otherwise], but He did not will it, nor did it please [Him to do so]. Consequently, because man had fallen, He willed to redeem the human race through a man also, that the righteousness of God might be satisfied.
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91 The attribution may be in error since the argument seems to be directed against Faber’s theses. It may, however, take Major’s Thesis 3 (see the following argument) as its point of departure.
Martin Luther, “Disputation on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son, and on the Law (Doctoral Disputation for Georg Major and Johann Faber) (December 12, 1544),” in Luther’s Works: Disputations II, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown and Benjamin T. G. Mayes, trans. Eric G. Phillips, vol. 73 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2020), 486.
Argument 24

Against the Same [Thesis 8 of Georg Major]

8. Nevertheless, at the same time, this Unity is a Trinity, or the Divinity of three distinct persons.
[The expression] “God with us” is often used. Therefore, [Christ] is God only nominally,122 and not essentially.
I prove the consequent: Because Christ is called “Lord” everywhere in the prophets, as when it is said, “Immanuel has been born to us” [cf. Isa. 7:14].123
[Response of Georg] Major: I respond that when [Isaiah] says, “God with us,” he does not understand it nominally, but essentially. For he is saying that it will come to pass that Christ shall in our midst be made the sacrifice for the human race. And as Christ was at that time, so He is, and He shall be for eternity.
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122 nuncupative
123 “Immanuel” means “God with us” (see Matt. 1:23). The argument seems to be that if Christ is called by a name (as in Isa. 7:14: “You will call His name Immanuel”), then it is only a name rather than a description of essence.
Martin Luther, “Disputation on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son, and on the Law (Doctoral Disputation for Georg Major and Johann Faber) (December 12, 1544),” in Luther’s Works: Disputations II, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown and Benjamin T. G. Mayes, trans. Eric G. Phillips, vol. 73, Luther’s Works (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2020), 490.
[WA 39/2:308–9][Response of Georg] Major: I respond that He is subjected according to the human nature, in order that He might make satisfaction for the sins of the human race. According to the divine essence, however, He is not subjected, for by it He is equal to the Father. For whatever [attributes] are in the essence of the Father are understood to be in the Son as well, and they differ only in this: that the Son has been begotten, and the Father has not been begotten.

WA D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. 73 volumes in 85. Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–.
Martin Luther, “Disputation on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son, and on the Law (Doctoral Disputation for Georg Major and Johann Faber) (December 12, 1544),” in Luther’s Works: Disputations II, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown and Benjamin T. G. Mayes, trans. Eric G. Phillips, vol. 73 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2020), 493.

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What heart would not cheerfully expect all good from Him when He shows such love that He sent His dear Son to the evil, damnable people (that is, the whole world, which is all people), who never did anything good, but every hour acted against His Commandments?
Martin Luther, “Gospel for Pentecost Monday (John 3:16–21),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 77 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014), 371.
The Giver, who is so great and mighty, the Creator of all creatures, not only says, “Good morning,” or kindly smiles at us, but loves us—and loves us so heartily that He gives us not only a beggar’s portion of perishable goods but also His highest, dearest treasure, His Son, who is also Lord of heaven and earth.
Martin Luther, “Gospel for Pentecost Monday,” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 77 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014), 374.
38. “Yes,” you say, “I would gladly believe if I were like St. Peter, Paul, and others who are righteous and holy, but I am too great a sinner. Who knows whether I am elect?” Answer: Look at the words! Look at how and about whom He is speaking: “God so loved the world” and “so that all who believe in Him” [John 3:16]. Now, “the world” does not mean only St. Peter and Paul, but the entire human race together, and here no one is excluded. God’s Son was given for all, all are to believe this, and all who believe will not be lost, etc. Look at yourself in the face,10 or look in your bosom,11 to see whether or not you are also a human being (that is, a part of the world) and in the number which the word “all” includes, as well as others. If I and you do not accept this, then these words must also have been spoken falsely and in vain.

39. This was surely not preached—much less given and granted—to cows and geese. Therefore, beware of excluding yourself by permitting thoughts such as: “Who knows whether it has also been given to me?” That would be calling God a liar in His Word. Rather, make a cross before yourself and repeat these words: “Even if I am not St. Peter or Paul, I am still a part of the world. If He had wanted to give it only to the worthy, then He would have had to send this preaching only to the angels, who are pure and without sin. Yes, He would even have had to withhold it from St. Peter, David, and Paul, for they were sinners as well as I am. No matter who I am, I know that God’s Word is true, and if I do not accept it, then, on top of all other sins, I am also committing this one, that I regard God’s Word and truth as lies and am slandering them.”
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10 Greiff dich doch selbs bey der Nasen, literally, “Get hold of your own nose.” The saying means: “Know yourself” (cf. DWB, s.v. “Nase” I.5.c).
11 Again, the saying means “Know yourself.” It is explained in Wander 1:519, “Busen” no. 7.

Martin Luther, “Gospel for Pentecost Monday,” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 77 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014), 375–76.

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6. “Well,” says St. John, “if the world can hate God Himself for this benefit, dear friends, do not be surprised when the same thing happens to you. What does it mean when I show my love and lay down my body and life in order to confirm this teaching and help my neighbor? It is a poor, beggarly, filthy, and stinking love compared to the fact that Christ dies for me to redeem me from eternal death! If God with His supreme, unfathomable love cannot get the world to be thankful to Him, why be surprised if the world dislikes you for your kindness? Why would you be angry and rant about ingratitude? You yourself are part of the world for whom God’s Son had to die. Even if you die for them, it is still nothing compared to the fact that God did not spare His own Son for their sake, but let Him be executed and killed by their own hands” [Rom. 8:32].
Martin Luther, “Epistle for the Second Sunday after Trinity (1 John 3:13–18),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 70. Note that the “world” (i.e., all unbelievers) that hates God and believers, is unthankful, and was even involved in executing and killing God’s own Son, is the same “world” (Luther said) for whom God gave His Son to die. Clearly that includes the non-elect.
25. Now, as the apostles preached according to the command of Christ, so we also must do, saying that all people are conceived and born in sin and are by nature children of wrath and condemned because of it [Eph. 2:3]; they cannot obtain the forgiveness of sins or be saved through themselves nor through any other creature’s help, advice, work, merit, etc. This is what it means to rebuke, judge, and condemn everyone. We do this not of our own arbitrary whim, not because we take pleasure in reprimanding people as sinners and godless, but because of Christ’s order and command. However, we do not leave it there, but cheer and comfort again those we have rebuked, and tell them that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners [1 Tim. 1:15], so that everyone who believes in Him does not perish but is saved [John 3:16].
Martin Luther, “Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (Luke 6:36–42),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 179–80.
58. Therefore, we must listen only to God’s Word about this. God’s Word reveals and shows us what God the Father’s will is. First, [His will is] that He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to make peace with God for our sins by His death, and through His blood to cleanse and save us without our merit, etc. He sends this proclamation to everyone through the Gospel and requires you to believe and accept it. Christ also Himself says this with clear words: “The will of Him who sent Me is that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him has eternal life” [John 6:40].
Martin Luther, “Gospel for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity (Matthew 7:15–23),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 300.
19. So this means (I say) that God—if we want to look at Him in the works that He does also bodily and temporally—is nothing other than pure, inexpressible love, greater and more than anyone can ever imagine. The most shameful thing is that the world pays no attention to this and does not thank Him for it, even though it sees every hour so many innumerable blessings of God before its eyes. With their ingratitude, every day they honestly deserve that God would not let the sun shine on them for one moment nor let even a straw grow out of the ground nor even grant them life. Just for this reason He does not stop loving without ceasing nor doing good also externally and bodily—not to mention what He does when it comes to spiritual benefits, when He is pouring out not sun and moon nor heaven and earth, but His own heart and His dearest Son, that He even makes Him shed His blood and die the most shameful death of all for us shameful, wicked, unthankful people. How can we say anything but that God is nothing except a fathomless depth of eternal love and, again, that love is nothing else than only God? Therefore, whoever has love must also have God and be full of Him.
Martin Luther, “Several Beautiful Sermons on 1 John, on Love (1 John 4:16–21),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 372–73.
66. However, on that day this will become obvious before God and all creatures, when He says to them: “I have given you heaven and earth, sun and moon, and all benefits. Moreover, I have caused my Gospel to be preached to deliver you from your sins and misery, and so offered all grace and eternal life free of charge. But how have you acted toward it? Like desperate, wicked devil’s fruit, you have wanted to recognize and accept no kindness or grace, but have struggled and raged against it most vehemently.” Similarly, all saints will then stand there and also testify and say against them and about them: “We have served you with our body and life and have faithfully and sincerely helped you to blessedness and all benefits. You cannot deny that we have done it out of fully genuine love, just as the genuine love of God is and does.” If it were not genuinely perfect, divine love, then we would certainly act differently toward the matter and say, as the world usually says to each other: “I let you have hellfire and all misfortune so that I could do you more good.” Why would we need to take on ourselves to no purpose all people’s hatred and hostility, contempt, danger, and misfortune? We could certainly have been spared this if we wanted to seek our own and also give the world a dismissal and say to it: “If you are such a precious herb, then may the devil love you!”
Martin Luther, “Several Beautiful Sermons on 1 John, on Love (1 John 4:16–21),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 392–93.
Now, it happens that God must suffer from all the world for His inexpressible love, since they give Him nothing but ingratitude for His love, despise His words and works, and in addition slander and persecute them. How many are there who thank Him even once for a benefit or would for His sake give up a halfpenny, when God gives them all kinds of goods most richly? They live as if this were their right and even privilege to use His gifts according to their own caprice. Now, because we see that this is what happens to God Himself and His love in the world, we can resign ourselves to the fact that we will not have it better, and not be surprised or angry if something unusual or extraordinary happens to us, but rather cheerfully be confident and boast all the more boldly when we can boast and be confident. Yet our love and patience and all we can do are still not the same as what divine love and patience must suffer from the world.
Martin Luther, “Several Beautiful Sermons on 1 John, on Love (1 John 4:16–21),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 391.
He gives all His creatures into the hands of the evil tyrants and villains and covers them with all good things, and yet He earns from them nothing more than a fine “thank You,” namely, that without ceasing they slander and defame Him for it. In the same way His Son lets Himself be nailed to the cross, carries our sin around His neck, and dies for the whole world, so that they can live and be redeemed and liberated from their sins and the devil’s power. But they do not want to hear or tolerate any such preaching. They slander and persecute His preachers and Christians, and set up all kinds of false worship and their own holiness to spite and grieve Him. That is the way the dear, faithful Savior must be repaid!
Martin Luther, “Several Beautiful Sermons on 1 John, on Love (1 John 4:16–21),” in Luther’s Works, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 78 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 394.
All people are under sin and damnation, so that nothing else could help them except that God had to give His Son for the world and establish a different preaching through which grace and reconciliation are proclaimed to us.
Martin Luther, “Epistle for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity (2 Corinthians 3:4–11),” in Luther’s Works: Church Postil V, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 79 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 24.
Because it is impossible for our nature to keep the Law, Christ came, stepped between the Father and us, and prayed for us: “Dear Father, be gracious to them and forgive their sins. I will take their sins onto Myself and bear them. I love You from My whole heart, and in addition the entire human race, which I demonstrate by shedding My blood for them. In this way I have fulfilled the Law for their advantage, so that they can have the benefit of My fulfilling the Law and through this come to grace.”
Martin Luther, “Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity (Matthew 22:34–46),” in Luther’s Works: Church Postil V, ed. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, James L. Langebartels, and Christopher Boyd Brown, vol. 79 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 174.

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Martin Luther (1483–1546) on John 1:29

Behold, the Lamb of God!

This is an excellent and splendid testimony of John regarding the introduction of the new rule and kingdom of Christ. It is a powerful statement. The words are clear and lucid; they tell us what one should think of Christ. John’s earlier words (John 1:17), “The Law was given through Moses,” can hardly be called praise of Moses. But in this passage John virtually chides him, as if he were saying: “You Jews sacrifice a lamb every Passover, as Moses commanded you. In addition you butcher two lambs daily, which are sacrificed and burned each morning and evening. It is a lamb, to be sure. But you Jews make such a display of it, you praise these sacrifices and boast of them so much, that you eclipse the glory of God, push God into the background, and deprive Him of His honor. Compare the true Lamb with the lamb which the Law of Moses commands you to butcher and eat.128 One is a lamb procured from shepherds. The other, however, is an entirely different Lamb; it is the Lamb of God. For It has been ordained to bear on Its back the sins of the world. Compared with this Lamb, all the lambs you butcher in the temple, roast, and eat count for nothing.

“The paschal lamb of the Law was, indeed, splendid child’s play, as well as a ceremony instituted to remind you of the true Lamb of God. But you exaggerate its significance and assume that such butchering and sacrificing were done to remove your sins. Don’t give way to that illusion! Your lambs will never accomplish that. Only the Son of God will. Those lambs in the Law were merely to be the people’s toys, to remind them of the true Paschal Lamb, which was to be sacrificed at some future time.” But they had nothing but contempt for all this and supposed that a lamb slaughtered at Passover sufficed. Therefore John, as it were, juxtaposes Moses’ lamb and Christ, the true Lamb. The Law was not to extend beyond Christ. John wishes to say: “Your lamb was taken from men, as Moses commanded in the Law of God (Ex. 12:3–5). But this is God’s Lamb. The Easter lamb is a Lamb from God, not a lamb selected from the wethers. The lamb of the Law was a shepherds lamb or a man’s lamb.” John wants to say: “This is the true Lamb, which takes away the sin of the people. With your other lambs, sacrificed on the Passover festival, you did try to remove your sin; but you never succeeded. In this Lamb, born of a virgin, you will. It is not a natural lamb or wether referred to in the Law, and yet It is a lamb.” For God prescribed that it was to be a Lamb that should be sacrificed and roasted on the cross for our sins. In other respects He was a man like all other human beings; but God made Him a Lamb which should bear the sins of all the world.

This is an extraordinarily free and comforting sermon on Christ, our Savior. Neither our thoughts nor our words can do the subject full justice, but in the life beyond it will redound to our eternal joy and bliss that the Son of God abased Himself so and burdened Himself with my sins. Yes, He assumes not only my sins but also those of the whole world, from Adam down to the very last mortal. These sins He takes upon Himself; for these He is willing to suffer and die that our sins may be expunged and we may attain eternal life and blessedness. But who can ever give adequate thought or expression to this theme? The entire world with all its holiness, rectitude, power, and glory is under the dominion of sin and completely discredited before God. Anyone who wishes to be saved must know that all his sins have been placed on the back of this Lamb! Therefore John points this Lamb out to his disciples, saying: “Do you want to know where the sins of the world are placed for forgiveness? Then don’t resort to the Law of Moses or betake yourselves to the devil; there, to be sure, you will find sins, but sins to terrify you and damn you. But if you really want to find a place where the sins of the world are exterminated and deleted, then cast your gaze upon the cross. The Lord placed all our sins on the back of this Lamb. As the prophet Isaiah declares (53:6): ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way,’ the one hither, the other yon. One sought God in this manner, another in a different way; there were countless modes of looking for God.”

And as it happens when one loses the right way, and, for instance, turns in the wrong direction at a crossroad, one false decision leads to a hundred others. Thus the one chose the rule of St. Francis for help, the other the order of St. Benedict. And pope and Turk, each according to his own judgment, fabricated his own means of penance for sin. But it is written: “They have all gone astray.” But now, which is the right way, the way that guards against going astray? The farther one strays from the right road, the more confused one grows. Isaiah says that the right way is this: “God placed all our sins upon Him and smote Him for the sins of the people; when we all went astray, God put all our sins on the back of His Lamb, and upon no other. He ordained the Lamb to bear the sins of the entire world.”

Therefore a Christian must cling simply to this verse and let no one rob him of it. For there is no other comfort either in heaven or on earth to fortify us against all attacks and temptations, especially in the agony of death.129 And whoever believes that this Lamb bears the sins of all the world must regard pope and Turk as the Antichrist.130 For the pope has taught that the Christian must be concerned with bearing his own sin, atoning for it with alms and the like. This is his shameless lie even to the present day. But if what he teaches is true, then I, not Christ, am yoked and burdened with my sin. And then I would necessarily be lost and damned. But Christ does bear the sin—not only mine and yours or that of any other individual, or only of one kingdom or country, but the sin of the entire world. And you, too, are a part of the world.

John’s memory has been cherished, to be sure. In the papacy many murals depict St. John. Pictures of him and of the Lamb were carved in wood and stone or fashioned in gold and silver. Once annually his day was celebrated.131 His fingers were painted pointing to the Lamb. But all of this was external and never took possession of the heart. No one understood the true significance of the painting and the figure. The papists are still blind, foolish, and absurd. They have paintings and carvings and sculptures of St. John, and they prize portrait and statue; but their doctrine and their life run counter to all this. For they call upon St. Francis or Benedict, St. Catherine or Barbara, and other saints for aid. Is this not blindness? Were we not foolish and mad? Not only did we have the doctrine informing us that this is the Lamb which bears the sin of the world, but we also viewed the picture of St. John pointing his finger at Christ and carrying Christ on his left arm.132 We celebrated great festivals commemorating all this. And yet our vision was faulty; we did not understand its meaning, nor did we know why John was showing us the Lamb.

This is the basis of all Christian doctrine. Whoever believes it, is a Christian; whoever does not, is no Christian, and will get what he has coming to him. The statement is clear enough: “This is the Lamb of God, who bears the sin of the world.” Moreover, this text is the Word of God, not our word. Nor is it our invention that the Lamb was sacrificed by God and that, in obedience to the Father, this Lamb took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. But the world refuses to believe this; it does not want to concede the honor to this dear Lamb that our salvation depends entirely on His bearing our sin. The world insists on playing a role in this too. But the more it aspires to do in atonement for sin, the worse it fares. For there is no atoner but this Lamb; God recognizes no other. Would it not be reasonable and right to take these words into our hearts that we might become aware of our sin?

Now note here that the Law of Moses, indeed, apprises you of your sin and tells you how you should obey God and man. It also informs me that I am hostile to God, that I blaspheme Him, and that I do not regulate my life properly according to the precepts of the Ten Commandments. In brief, the Law shows me what I am; it reveals sin and burdens me with it. This is its proper function. Then I become frightened and would like to be rid of it. But the Law says: “I cannot aid you in this.” Then we run to the saints, and we invoke the assistance of the Virgin Mary,133 saying: “Intercede for me before your Son; show Him your breasts!” Another calls on St. Christopher, although he never existed on this earth.134 Another hies himself to St. Barbara for her intercession. Others enter monastic orders, thereby aspiring to becoming holy themselves and their own saviors. Indeed, each one of us beholds his sins and promises to mend his sinful life from day to day, saying: “O Christ, grant me a respite and stay the time of my death, and I shall become pious and atone for my sin!” But is this not a hideous and terrible blindness? Sin is at your throat; it drives you and lies heavy on you. Reason knows of no other counsel and advice. As soon as reason sees that it has sinned, it declares: “I will reform and become pious!” But now St. John intervenes and declares that the entire world is polluted with sin. He shows us through the Law that we are saddled with this sin, and that we must not let it rest where the Law has deposited it, namely, in our bosom. For if sin remains there, you are damned and doomed. At the same time you are too feeble to remove it; you cannot overcome sin.

In view of this, St. John, by his testimony or sermon, shows us Another upon whom God the Father has laid our sins, namely, Christ the Lord. The Law lays them upon me, but God takes them from me and lays them upon this Lamb. There they fit very well, far better than on me. God wishes to say to us: “I see how the sin oppresses you. You would have to collapse under its heavy burden. But I shall relieve and rid you of the load—when the Law convicts you of, and condemns you for, your sin—and from sheer mercy I shall place the weight of your sin on this Lamb, which will bear them.”

May you ever cherish and treasure this thought. Christ is made a servant of sin, yea, a bearer of sin, and the lowliest and most despised person. He destroys all sin by Himself and says: “I came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). There is no greater bondage than that of sin; and there is no greater service than that displayed by the Son of God, who becomes the servant of all, no matter how poor, wretched, or despised they may be, and bears their sins. It would be spectacular and amazing, prompting all the world to open ears and eyes, mouth and nose in uncomprehending wonderment, if some king’s son were to appear in a beggar’s home to nurse him in his illness, wash off his filth, and do everything else the beggar would have to do. Would this not be profound humility? Any spectator or any beneficiary of this honor would feel impelled to admit that he had seen or experienced something unusual and extraordinary, something magnificent. But what is a king or an emperor compared with the Son of God? Furthermore, what is a beggar’s filth or stench compared with the filth of sin which is ours by nature, stinking a hundred thousand times worse and looking infinitely more repulsive to God than any foul matter found in a hospital? And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us, the more He cleanses us, relieving us of all our misery and of the burden of all our sins and placing them upon His own back. All the holiness of the monks stinks in comparison with this service of Christ, the fact that the beloved Lamb, the great Man, yes, the Son of the Exalted Majesty, descends from heaven to serve me.

Such benefactions of God might well provoke us to love and to laud God and to celebrate this service in song and sermon and speech. It should also induce us to die willingly and to remain cheerful in all suffering. For how amazing it is that the Son of God becomes my servant, that He humbles Himself so, that He cumbers Himself with my misery and sin, yes, with the sin and the death of the entire world! He says to me: “You are no longer a sinner, but I am. I am your substitute. You have not sinned, but I have. The entire world is in sin. However, you are not in sin; but I am. All your sins are to rest on Me and not on you.” No one can comprehend this. In yonder life our eyes will feast forever on this love of God. And who would not gladly die for Christ’s sake? The Son of Man performs the basest and filthiest work. He does not don some beggar’s torn garment or old trousers, nor does He wash us as a mother washes a child; but He bears our sin, death, and hell, our misery of body and soul. Whenever the devil declares: “You are a sinner!” Christ interposes: “I will reverse the order; I will be a sinner, and you are to go scotfree.” Who can thank our God enough for this mercy?

Whoever can confidently believe that the sins of the world, also his own, were laid on Christ’s shoulders will not easily be deceived and deluded by the schismatic spirits, who are in the habit of quoting us verses that deal with good works and alms and give the impression that good work wipe out sins and acquire salvation. A Christian can refute any passages which the factious spirits may adduce about good works. This cardinal text still remains intact. It reads that I cannot bear my sin or render satisfaction for it, but that God has chosen a sacrifice which was slaughtered, roasted on the cross, and eaten. Upon this Lamb all sins were laid. A Christian will not permit himself to be cut adrift from this, nor will he be led away from a proper understanding of the Gospel. Let them teach or preach what they choose in the world. He will adhere to the plain and true faith and clear words, namely: “If I had been able to earn anything for myself, then it would not have been necessary for God’s Son to die for me.” John declares that it is solely the Lamb that bears the sin of the whole world; otherwise it would surely not be done at all. I, too, will find refuge in Him. You may do whatever you please!

The Law, to be sure, can command to do this and that; it can also prescribe rules of conduct for life. It says: “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his goods, his honor; do not kill; do not commit adultery, etc.; give alms.” And it is laudable and good to comply with these Commandments. By doing so we abstain from outward sin in the world. But it is futile to try to expunge sin before God through the Law. The one thing that is effective in this respect is spoken of here: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And in Is. 53:6 we read: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And again (Is. 53:8): “The Lord will strike Him for the transgression of my people.” Everything centers in Christ. Therefore a Christian must adhere to this verse with simplicity of heart and not let anyone rob him of it. Then he will be aware of the blindness of all heathen, of the papists, and of the godless, who themselves want to render satisfaction with pilgrimages and with good works. They make much of these and console themselves with purgatory. But they are blind. For Holy Scripture declares that the sin of the world does not lie on the world, or St. John’s sin on St. John, or St. Peter’s on Peter; for they are unable to bear it. The sin of the world lies on Christ, the Lamb of God. He steps forth and becomes a vile sinner, yea, sin itself (2 Cor. 5:21), just as if He Himself had committed all the sin of the world from its beginning to its end. This is to be the Lamb’s office, mission, and function.

And now if Holy Scripture contains verses which seem to intimate that one should atone for sin through good works, you should apply these to the inferior realm of domestic affairs or of temporal government; enjoin them upon fathers and mothers, and do not use them in an attempt to prove that good works could present satisfaction for your sins before God. Good works leave sins unborne and unpaid; the Lamb bears them all. Therefore ask yourself if it was not just of God to be angry with us and to punish us because we had strayed into the ranks of the pope’s and the Turk’s schismatic spirits. For the Lamb Itself preaches to us: “Behold, how I bear your sins!” However, no one will accept it. If we believed and accepted it, no one would be damned. What more is the Lamb to do? He says: “You are all condemned, but I will take your sins upon Myself. I have become the whole world. I have incorporated all people since Adam into My person.” Thus He wants to give us righteousness in exchange for the sins we have received from Adam. And I should reply: “I will believe that my dear, dear Lord,135 the Lamb of God, has taken all sins upon Himself.” Still the world will not believe and accept this. If it did, no one would be lost.

We learn that we have all been hurled into sin by the devil and that the Lamb alone extricates us. Refusal to believe this is not Christ’s fault; it is mine. If I do not believe this, I am doomed. It is for me to say simply that the Lamb of God has borne the sin of the world. I have been earnestly commanded to believe and to confess this, and then also to die in this faith.

You may say: “Who knows whether Christ also bore my sin? I have no doubt that He bore the sin of St. Peter, St. Paul, and other saints; these were pious people. Oh, that I were like St. Peter or St. Paul!” Don’t you hear what St. John says in our text: “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”? And you cannot deny that you are also part of this world, for you were born of man and woman. You are not a cow or a pig. It follows that your sins must be included, as well as the sins of St. Peter or St. Paul. And just as you are unable to expiate your sins, so they have been unable to expiate theirs. There are no exceptions here. Therefore do not yield to your own thoughts, but cling to the words which guarantee you and all believers forgiveness of sin through the Lamb. Don’t you hear? There is nothing missing from the Lamb. He bears all the sins of the world from its inception; this implies that He also bears yours, and offers you grace.

If someone does not partake of and enjoy such grace and mercy, he has none to blame but himself and his refusal to believe and accept it. He says to himself: “This does not pertain to you, but only to St. Peter and St. Paul. I must become a monk, invoke the saints, and go on pilgrimages.” Go to the devil if you refuse to believe these words! For if you are in the world and your sins form a part of the sins of the world, then the text applies to you. All that the words “sin,” “world,” and “the sin of the world from its beginning until its end” denote—all this rests solely on the Lamb of God. And since you are an integral part of this world and remain in this world, the benefits mentioned in the text will, of course, also accrue to you.

It is extremely important that we know where our sins have been disposed of. The Law deposits them on our conscience and shoves them into our bosom. But God takes them from us and places them on the shoulders of the Lamb. If sin rested on me and on the world, we would be lost; for it is too strong and burdensome. God says: “I know that your sin is unbearable for you; therefore behold, I will lay it upon My Lamb and relieve you of it. Believe this! If you do, you are delivered of sin.” There are only two abodes for sin: it either resides with you, weighing you down; or it lies on Christ, the Lamb of God. If it is loaded on your back, you are lost; but if it rests on Christ, you are free and saved. Now make your choice! According to the Law, to be sure, sin should remain on you; but by grace sin was cast on Christ, the Lamb. Lacking this grace, we should be doomed in an accounting with God.

These are clear, plain, and powerful words, strengthened by that splendid and beautiful portrait of St. John pointing to the Lamb with his finger. I was always fond of such pictures; for instance, the one on which the Paschal Lamb is depicted carrying a little banner, or the picture of the crucifixion.136 But in the papacy we never understood their true significance. This is the message they really wanted to convey: “Behold, man! According to Law and justice, your sins should rest on you. But the Lamb which I exhibit here bears your sins by grace. This sin has been placed on the Lamb. Now you are holy, righteous, and free of sin; you have been saved for the sake of the Lamb. Therefore you have to know that you are not bearing your own sin. For then you would be lost; the Law would condemn and execute you. But behold, God has delivered you from your sins and has placed them on the Lamb. And thus you are saved, not for your own sake but for His.”137
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128 In order to keep the flow of direct discourse in this sentence we have changed it from the third to the second person.
129 The italics here are in the original.
130 It is noteworthy that in this passage, as in many others, Luther identifies both the pope and the Turk as the Antichrist; his term here is Endechrist (cf. Luther’s Works, 13, p. 190, note 51).
131 Luther is probably referring to the fact that John the Baptist is the only saint besides the Virgin Mary whose birthday is in the church’s calendar. The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24 (cf. p. 129, note 95), and his martyrdom on August 29.
132 For a representative example of the portrayals of John the Baptist in the art of the fifteenth century cf. the figure copied from the east window of Great Malvern Priory Church, Worcestershire, England, in G. MeN. Rushforth, Medieval Christian Imagery (Oxford, 1936), p. 88, Figure 27.
133 Cf. p. 146, note 106.
134 Luther had expressed his skepticism regarding St. Christopher as early as his The Ten Commandments Preached to the People of Wittenberg of 1518 (Weimar, I, 413, 414).
135 The German word here is Herrichen.
136 The Paschal Lamb is depicted this way in the window referred to on p. 433, note 132.
137 This is the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth sermon, dated “the Saturday after St. Elizabeth s day,” November 24, 1537.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1–4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 22 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 161–170.
THE SINS OF THE WORLD LIE ON CHRIST. MARTIN LUTHER: Therefore, Christians must adhere to this verse [i.e., John 1:29] with simplicity of heart and not let anyone rob them of it. Then they will be aware of the blindness of all heathen, of the papists, and of the godless, who themselves want to render satisfaction with pilgrimages and with good works. They make much of these and console themselves with purgatory. But they are blind. For holy Scripture declares that the sin of the world does not lie on the world, or St. John’s sin on St. John, or St. Peter’s on Peter; for they are unable to bear it. The sin of the world lies on Christ, the Lamb of God. He steps forth and becomes a vile sinner, yea, sin itself, just as if he himself had committed all the sin of the world from its beginning to its end. This is to be the Lamb’s office, mission, and function. TWELFTH SERMON ON JOHN.57
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57 LW 22:168* (WA 46:682).
Timothy George and Scott M. Manetsch, eds., 2 Corinthians: New Testament, vol. IXb, Reformation Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2022), 170–71.
So by means of this doctrine concerning the governing part of man, man will come to be exalted above Christ and the devil, or in other words, he will become Lord of lords and God of gods. What has now happened to that “probable opinion” which said that free choice could will nothing good? Yet here she contends that it is the principal part, and a sound and virtuous part, which does not even need Christ, but can do more than God himself and the devil can. I say this to let you see again how very perilous it is to venture into divine and sacred subjects without the Spirit of God and in the temerity of human reason. If Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world [John 1:29], then it follows that the whole world is subject to sin, damnation, and the devil, and the distinction between principal and nonprincipal parts is of no use at all. For “world” means men, who savor of worldly things in all their parts.
Martin Luther, “The Bondage of the Will,” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 33: Career of the Reformer III, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 33 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 228.

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September 23, 2022

Philip Doddridge (1702–1751) on 1 Timothy 2:4

d Will have all men to be saved.] It is far from being my design, in any of these notes, to enter deep into controversy, but I must confess I have never been satisfied with that interpretation which explains all men here, merely as signifying some of all sorts and ranks of men; since I fear it might also be said on the principles of those who are fondest of this gloss, that he also wills all men to be condemned. On the other hand, if many are not saved, it is certain the words must be taken with some limitation, which the following clause, he wills their coming to the knowledge of the truth, must also prove. The meaning, therefore, seems to be, that God has made sufficient provision for the salvation of all, and that it is to be considered as the general declaration of his will, that all who know the truth themselves should publish it to all around them, so far as their influence can extend.
Philip Doddridge, The Family Expositor: Or, A Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament with Critical Notes and a Practical Improvement of Each Section (London : Printed for W. Baynes, 1825), 904.

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September 22, 2022

Richard Stock (c.1569–1626) on the General and Special Love of God

Next he loves his creatures freely; the cause why he loves them, is in himself, not in them; he loves some with a special love, and some with a general, freely; that appears by the Scriptures, John 3:16. God so loves the world. 1 John 1:3. Herein is the love of God manifest, that he hath given us his son. 1 John 4:19. God loves us first; if first, then freely; and no love in us, procured his love; again he loves them not equally, for he loves men more than other creatures: Titus 3:9. The love he bears to man is manifest; yet further, he loves some men more than others; Exod. 19:5. You shall be my peculiar people; as if he should say, though all the Nations be mine in general, yet ye shall be my chief treasure; Titus 2:14. A peculiar treasure; these are as treasures that men lock up; he loves those that are elected, and those that are called; those that are elected, he loved them when they were enemies; Eph. 1:4. He loved them before the foundation of the world; But he loves them better whom he hath called, than those he hath not called: Prov. 8:17. I love them that love me, those whom he hath endued with his spirit: Psa. 146:8. The Lord loves the righteous, &c. To conclude this with that of Saint Austine, God loves all that he hath made; he loves especially men, and Angels; and among men, he loves those especially, that are the members of his Son; and most of all, he loves his Son, &c. and so we have made manifest this description. …

Quest. Why is it said, he loves them not equally?
Answ. Because they are not all alike to him. Some creatures only, others servants only; some children, and among his children, he loves those that are called, better than those that are not called: I say, they are not all alike to God: man loves the work of his own hands well, but he loves his servants better, and his child best of all: if it be so with man, much more is it so with God; some are his creatures, some his servants, some his sons; so that he loves them not all alike; some are his children, but not all begotten again, he loves those with a good will and purpose to call them; those that he hath called, he hath justified, sanctified, and hath bestowed upon them faith, repentance, and grace; and he delights in these, especially that he hath bestowed his grace upon.
Richard Stock, A Stock of Divine Knowledge. Being a lively description of the Divine Nature. Or, The Divine Essence, Attributes, and Trinity particularly explaned [sic] and profitably applied. The first, shewing us what God is: the second, what we ought to be. (London: Printed by T. H. for Philip Nevil, and are to be sold at his shop in Ivie Lane, at the signe of the Gun, 1641), 159–60, 162. Some spelling updated.
Quest. Why conclude you, that he doth specially show mercy to some, rather than to others?
Answ. Because mercy is from free love: he loves some more than others, therefore he shows mercy to some more than others: it is very natural to God to show mercy; and where we love most, there we labour to show most mercy: therefore we are delighted to help our children, and friends in their misery. God loves all his creatures, yeah, he loves the wicked, but they specially his own: he is merciful to the wicked, but he is much more merciful to his own. To express this: He is merciful to the wicked, but in one thing; but he is merciful to the godly in many things; he shows mercy to the wicked in their punishments, and sins: we do confess indeed he doth show mercy to the wicked in their sins, in being patient towards them, Rom. 9:32. He is merciful to them in suffering them to enjoy many outward blessings, that they are unworthy of; nay, he is merciful to them, when he layeth any evil upon them; he never lays so much as they deserve (as good Divines think) no not in hell: so that he is merciful to them. To his own he shows mercy, both in their punishments and sins: in their punishments, Hab. 3:2. the Lord in wrath remembereth mercy, Lam. 3:21. Though he afflict for a while, yet he will not forsake for ever: so that same Heb. 12:7. If we endure chastising, he offers himself as father: he deals mercifully with his own, as a father to his children, Psa. 103:13.
Ibid., 192–93. Some spelling updated.
I have loved thee [Mal. 1:2]. This is understood, not of his general love, but his special, and that after a special manner; not such as he loves whole mankind by, but such as he loves his church by. The love of a whole family, of his spouse and children, is different, one more excellent than another, and so both more special and more excellent.

Doct. God, he loves his church with a more special and excellent love than he loves either all creatures or all mankind. So here, Amos iii. 2, Exod. xix. 5, ‘Now therefore, if ye will hear my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be my chief treasures above all people: though all the earth be mine;’ where the learned take the word to signify, a people of a precious treasure. The Septuagint read λαὸς περιούσιος, ‘a peculiar people,’ Titus ii. 14. Now περιούσιος, est thesaurus præ aliis electus, and so it is more excellent, and more dear and precious in God’s sight. These were for themselves, and the type of others. Hence it is that, 1 Peter ii. 9, ‘ye are a chosen generation, a peculiar people.’ Things elected are more specially loved, hence are those comparisons to set forth this love, that he is the head of his members, the father of his children, the husband of his wife. The members are better affected than excrements, the children than servants, the wife without comparison, as himself, is one flesh.

Reason 1. Because love, precious and excellent love, is discerned by the things which proceed from love, that are given and bestowed upon the beloved; for he loves who bestows meat, and drink, and apparel, but he more that provides land, inheritance, and more lays up treasure, and gives knowledge and education. The servant is provided for, the child much more, so the things God gives being more excellent, spiritual, salvation, things belonging to it, but to others earthly things only [Non tam à veris rebus somnia superantur, quàm hæc terrenta ab æternis illis absunt.—Chrysost. de virg.], 1 Cor ix. 11. There is a threefold state of man, as divines speak of him: esse, bene esse, optimum esse: first naturæ; secondly, gratiæ; thirdly, gloriæ. The first of general love, the two last of special love, which being those God gives his, and his only, then is it with a more special love he loves them.

Reason 2. Because it is more constant and perpetual; for the general love of mankind is terminated not with the sun and moon only, but with their breaths; they part with their lives and his love together, but theirs is forever, and then specially is manifested when life is ended. That in life was but a pledge and earnest of the other, a penny to one hundred pound, or an angel to a thousand pound, a bargain of it.

Reason 3. Because in general love, only sua dat, his blessings and outward benefits; but in special, se dat, he gives himself, Hosea ii. 19. Now as that of Samuel is true, 1 Sam. xv. 22, obedience is better than sacrifice, because in obedience a man gives himself to God, but in sacrifice he gives but of his, as Cain of the fruit of the ground, Abel of the first of his sheep, and of the fattest of them, so in this.

Use 1. This should provoke every one to labour for this love, being so special and excellent. Rare things are dear and desired; the more rare, the more dear and more desired; but when they are rare and excellent, very precious, then most of all. Such is this love. But how may we get this? Labour to be his, and his children, and church. So we all are. But he is not a Jew that is one outward. But how may we know that we are his, and have love? How do commonly men know they have the general love, and whence is their general brag of it? If they have the fruits of his love, peace, prosperity, riches, &c. So in this, if they have spiritual graces, as true saving knowledge, faith, sanctification, love, meekness, zeal, which are the fruits of his special love: Eccles. ix. 1, ‘No man knows either love or hatred by all that is before us.’ They are things within us which must manifest that to us; for these then must we labour, that we may know we have it.

Use 2. This must teach every one to be more thankful for this than he or others would be for the general. The thankfulness is to answer his love with obedience, to hear and obey: Exod. xix. 5. ‘Now therefore if ye will hear my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be my chief treasures above all people, though all the earth be mine.’ The fruits of the general love of God will require this, and the more fruits the more obedience. He that hath received something, though with the least, owes the most he can do; how much more he that hath more honour, credit, riches, &c., ought to perform more obedience, be more zealous, religious, holy, as August. surgunt indocti et cœlum rapint, &c. If for these common blessings and love, how much more for the fruits of special love and it? If to whom much, of them much in the former, how much more in this? And of such as have his special love, he looks for obedience and honour, wherein is their thankfulness. The courtier that is advanced above others ought to be more respective of the prince and his will, and with more care and cheerfulness perform all obedience, and the duty of his place than others. He that hath his life, liberty, and living given unto him when all was lost, if he shall not, if he should not respect him, every tongue would be ready to condemn him. But if he should be made heir to the crown, if his issue fail, or he have no child, then more. So in this; and this not being, nothing will more prove that they are not that they would seem to be, and that they have not that they brag on.

Use 3. This is matter of comfort to as many as are indeed his, beloved of him. They may be sure they shall lack nothing that is needful and good for them; for if he love them thus specially as his own, God is faithful to provide for his own, for, as Rom. viii. 32, ‘Who spared not his own Son, but gave him for us all to death, how shall he not with him give us all things also?’ How much more readily will he give us other things, when he hath given us himself, and hath married us to himself? Will a father see his child to want? Will a husband let his wife want when he is rich and able? If they should, yet will not God. Isa. xlix. 15, ‘Can a woman forget her child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? though they should forget, yet will I not forget thee.’ Therefore they may best have their conversation without care or covetousness; they need not swear or deceive for gain, oppress or offer injury to provide for themselves; they need not profane the Lord’s day, nor use unlawful means to lay up for another time to come; for he that doth so specially love them, and hath laid up so great things for them, and given them the pledges of them already, and the earnest of such infinite things, how will not he take care of them to provide necessaries for them? He that is in his general love feeds the ravens, the lions, and leopards; makes his rain to fall, and his sun to shine upon the wicked, and fills their bellies with his hid treasures; what will his special love make him to his own? But many of his are oftentimes scanted. So the physician keeps his patient at a strait diet, when full dishes are hurtful unto him. And God oftentimes gives not riches, because when they be humanæ miseriæ remedia, the remedies of human misery, they will make them instrumenta voluptatis aut superbiæ, the instruments of pleasure or pride, and he knows their hearts better than themselves. But they often want much, and have scarce to satisfy nature, when the wicked have abundance; but their water and brown bread makes them look as well as all the full dishes of the wicked, as it was with Daniel and his fellows. And the prodigal son had little to refresh him, when his father’s servants had bread enough, because he abused his former portion, and run from under the protection, and out of his father’s house; so with them. At his return he had the fat calf killed for him, and apparel and ornaments given him fit for a son.

Use 4. To admonish everyone that is his, to look for more correction than others if they provoke him; for more love, more of the rod, more affection, more affliction, the more special love, more special and more speedy correction. This use made Amos of it: chap. iii. 2, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will visit you for all your iniquities.’ Heads of families of the earth, therefore I will visit you for all your iniquities.’ Heads of families correct all, and most where they love: children before servants, and of them those they love, if their love be with judgment, and not blinded with affection.
Richard Stock, A Commentary Upon the Prophesy of Malachi […] (Edinburgh: James Nichol; London: James Nisbet & Co.; Dublin: G. Herbert, 1865), 17–18.

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September 18, 2022

An Excerpt from Martin Luther’s (1483–1546) Second Sermon on Mark 7:31–37

TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Second Sermon—Mark 7:31–37

This sermon is given in place of the preceding sermon in edition c and appeared in pamphlet form under the title: “A sermon on the Gospel of Mark, 7th chapter, preached in the Castle Church at Wittenberg before the Elector and Duke Henry of Saxony by Dr. Martin Luther. Wittenberg, 1534.” At the close stands: Printed at Wittenberg by Nicholas Schirlenz, 1534. It appeared also in the edition of the Postil of 1543.

1. As the Gospel everywhere shows Christ our Lord to be a merciful and gracious man, ready to help every one by word and deed, in body and soul, so does this Gospel lesson picture to us how willingly he helped this poor man, who was deaf and dumb, in order that we might be invited to believe, trusting to obtain from him all that is good, and also thereby to show unto us an example and a pattern, which every Christian ought to follow, helping his neighbor in the same manner.

2. For a Christian life consists entirely in the following: First, that we believe and trust in Christ our Saviour, being fully assured that we are not deserted by him, whatever need or danger may betide us. Secondly, that every Christian person also conducts himself toward friend or foe in the same way, as he sees Christ does, who is so willing to help everyone. Whoever does this, is a Christian; but he who does it not, is no Christian, though he calls himself one. For these two cannot be separated; faith must be followed by its fruits, or it is not true faith. That is the sum of this Gospel lesson.

3. Now some have been agitated over the fact that in this miracle Christ first takes the poor man and leads him apart from the people, performs particular ceremonies, places his fingers in the man’s ears, and spits, and touches his tongue, looks up to heaven, sighs and uses peculiar language; whereas he had before helped other mutes and many not mutes without any such ceremonies, merely by a word. All this, I say, has set some to thinking, and they have explained it that Christ in this case called to mind how this same man, whom he was now helping would afterward sin with his tongue and ears; therefore he had pity on him who would commit such sins after this great work was done, and that this deed of mercy would be so little appreciated, in that a speechless tongue should become a blaspheming tongue, which would not only defame his neighbors, but even dishonor God in heaven; and the ears, which were opened in order to hear God’s Word, would rather hear all manner of erroneous and false doctrine, than the Word of God. This, they say, was the reason Christ sighed and looked up to heaven.

4. I will not reject this opinion; [so that it may not be said, that we are never pleased with anything, but want to have everything new and changed.] But, we must not, as it were, confine Christ too narrowly as though he had regard to one person only; we must regard him more highly than that he would help only this man. For all the Holy Scriptures, and particularly the prophets and psalms, declare, that he was sent to have deep compassion on all the misery and need of the whole human race, and that Christ was the person, chosen particularly above all saints, to be so minded toward us as surely to take upon himself all our need and sorrow as though they were his own, as in Ps. 40:12 he says of our sins, “Mine iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up,” and in Ps. 41:4, “O Lord, have mercy upon me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.” Here our merciful Lord speaks in our person, bearing our sins as though they were his own, and as though he had committed them himself. And again, Ps. 69:5: “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee”; again, Is. 53:6: “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”; and vs. 4–5: “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” etc. And other passages of Scripture bear witness to this.

5. For the Lord Christ must be painted in such a manner that he is the only person who takes upon himself the misfortune, not of one country, or of one city, but of the whole world; even as St. John names him, John 1:29: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” But if he bears the sins, it follows that he must also have borne whatever belongs to sin, and what follows sin, as the devil, death and hell.

6. That is the reason he sighs so here, as the person who was to do it, of whom the prophets had long before announced that he would have deep compassion upon all the evils of the whole human race. He was not alone concerned about the tongue and the ears of only this poor man; but it was a common sigh over all tongues and ears in general, yea, over all hearts, bodies, and souls, and all men, from Adam to the last human being, who is yet to be born. Hence he does not chiefly sigh because this man would in the future commit many sins; but the chief reason is that he, Christ the Lord, viewed the entire mass of flesh and blood which the devil afflicted with a fatal hurt in Paradise, making mankind deaf and dumb, and thus thrust them into death and hell fire. This view being before the eyes of Christ, he looked far about him, seeing how great the damage was, inflicted in Paradise by the devil through the fall of one man. He looks not upon those two ears, but upon the whole number of men who had come from Adam, and were yet to come. Therefore this Gospel lesson sets forth Christ as being the man who is concerned about you and me, and about us all in a way that we ought to be concerned about ourselves, as though he were sunk in those sins and afflictions in which we are sunk, and that he sighs over the fact, that the very devil has brought about this ruin.

7. This surely is why he shows such great earnestness in this case, and makes use of special ways and means. As though he would say: “Your deplorable condition, your bondage in sin and death, affects me so deeply, that moved by nothing but by my own thoughts, I must act in a special manner.” For so extraordinary are his actions in this case, compared to his other works, that it is truly astonishing. He often healed others, or casted out devils, with a single word; indeed, he actually helped some whom he never visited, as for instance the centurion’s servant, Mat. 8:13; here, however, on account of two diseased organs, the tongue and the ear, his actions are very peculiar, as though he were especially concerned. By this he shows us that at this time he had a special view and special thoughts of the human race.

8. For as we admit that Christ, our Lord and God, had all other human traits, sin excepted, we must also concede, that he did not always have the same thoughts, was not always equally disposed, nor always equally fervent; but was variously actuated, just as other saints. Therefore, as his emotions and thoughts were peculiar in this case, his actions were also peculiar, so that we must see how truly human he was in body and soul, whose mind was not at all times alike disposed, just as little as he was always hungry and sleepy at the same time. As these conditions are variable in men, so they were variable in him, as St. Paul says, Phil. 2:7: “He took upon himself the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man,” etc. This must not be understood merely of external appearances, but of his soul and the thoughts of his heart, that, being ardent at one time, he was more ardent at another time, etc. This, then, is one reason why Christ here acted thus, namely, because he is a real man; but at the same time a person who stood in the place of all men and took upon himself at the same time the diseases of this man, and of all men.

9. The other thought is also true, that he was deeply grieved by the knowledge that this man, if he would heal him, might sin greatly after he was healed. But it is too narrow to explain it as referring only to the future sins of this man. For it was the task of Christ, our Lord God, to concern himself, and to suffer, not only for one man’s sin, but, as we read in Rev. 13:8, for all sins that would be committed from the beginning of the world, from Adam to our time, even unto the last man to be born before the day of judgment. Therefore their view is too narrow who explain it only of those sins which this man would yet do in the future. Although he showed in other instances that he took account of the future life of certain persons, as he said to the paralytic, John:14: “Thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee.”

10. For Christ, our dear Lord, has so kind a heart that he grieves to think of a person sinning. For he is well aware that sins cannot remain unpunished; therefore he even wept over the city of Jerusalem, because he saw that her sins had to be punished. So kind and loving is his heart that he has by no means pleasure where sin is committed.
Martin Luther, “Twelfth Sunday after Trinity (Second Sermon—Mark 7:31–37),” in Luther’s Church Postil: Gospels: First to Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, ed. and trans. John Nicholas Lenker, vol. IV, The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther (Minneapolis, MN: Lutherans in All Lands Co., 1904), 381–85.

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