Thursday, May 30, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Exaudi (Easter 7) (Sunday after the Ascension)

John 15:26-16:4
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
16:1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
“And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."


Luther's Notes

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 

But when the Helper comes. He means to say: Besides this, that with which I comfort you now by my example, how it shall go with me and also by what you hear of that which you shall find in the world, (vs. 18-25,) to this I will give you an addition and a present. For an other shall come, when I am gone, and (as they shall think,) dead for ever, whose mouth they shall not be able to stop, but who will publicly testify of me, before all the world, regardless whether it will deride or rage. The same is sent and given by the Father and me, to the end that ye may know and the world must experience, that it proceeds from my power and might, and that what the Holy Ghost preaches through you is my Father's mind, command and will. He is a "Comforter," and when there is no more consolation in the world and ye are very much terrified and weak, he shall speak to your hearts, that you shall not despair.

This Comforter is also called a "Spirit of Truth." For his comfort is not like that of the world, which is temporal, but his comfort endures forever, and can deceive no one. The world has its comfort too, but it is a lying comfort.

But whence does the Holy Ghost take this consolation? "From the Father," says Christ here; for he says, "Whom I will send unto you from the Father." For he, the Father, is the originating 1  person; I am the Son; and the Holy Ghost proceeds from us and the three persons are one thing and essence, alike mighty and powerful, as he expresses it yet clearer and says: "The Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father." That is to say, He shall comfort you, he is almighty and the Lord of all things. For if the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, then it must follow that such Spirit is eternal; since nothing can proceed from the Father which is not like and according to his essence and nature.

But wherewith does the Holy Ghost comfort? Christ says, "He shall testify of me." For if the consciences shall be comforted, it must be done by the preaching of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we can say: Though all should be lost, wife and child, house and land, goods and honor; yea, if it should be necessary that body and life should be given up, yet he lives above, who is called Jesus Christ, who for my sake became man, died, rose again and ascended to heaven for me.

But why does the Lord here use the word "testify?" For this reason, that we should attend the more to the word. For it is true, that the work of the Holy Ghost is inwardly in the heart. But such work he will carry on not otherwise than by the spoken word. Rom. 10:14.

 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
And you also will bear witness, etc. He shall first testify inwardly in your hearts, afterwards also outwardly by miracles and your confession and preaching, that you "who have been with me from the beginning," can say what you have heard and seen. But the Holy Ghost must be here first, otherwise you can do nothing.

Now when he says, you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning, he points out especially the apostles be fore all preachers, and confirms the preaching, so that all the world shall be bound to the word. 1 John 1:1-3.

1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.

 that you should not be made to stumble. For when ye shall see and experience, that all the world hates and perse cutes you, and especially those who are called the people of God and the true church, then you will be tried, either by doubts whether you have the true faith, or to become impa tient and unbelieving.

 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 

They will put you out of the synagogues. Here you learn that the gospel is such a teaching, which according to reason and human judgment is absolutely an irksome doctrine, which should be regarded not only as a great error, but as such a thing that should in no way be heard or tolerated, as the pernicious poison of the detestable devil. But he mentions two things with which the enemies of the Christians adorn their persecutions and life.

The first is, when he says, "They" (that is, not the openly bad villains, but those who are called the most prominent, wise, holy and as he says, servants of God) "shall put you out of the synagogues." This means nothing else than to be separated from the people of God, cut off and cast away as an unfit and condemned member, excluded from God and everything that is God's.

Now, where such excommunication and curse is pronounced there the other thing also must follow of which Christ speaks here: "yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." For the execution or punishment, which the world imagines must be inflicted on such is, that they should be exterminated from the earth without mercy. (Deut. 13:8.) And this they will not do in secret, but in open court and with all honor and praise, and will not only allege their worldly authority, but assert that they must do this for God's sake, and for the sake of the Christian church, as her obedient members; that the Christians must so suffer and die, as the devil's members, and every one exclaims, Oh, what a truly holy priestly work and sacrifice has this emperor and prince done.

3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

They have not known the Father nor me. It is necessary that we should make a distinction and learn that there have always been two kinds of churches. The false church takes the sword in hand and persecutes the true church. By this you can certainly know which is the false church, and still more certainly by what Christ says, "These things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." This is the true touchstone. Now, what does it mean, to know Christ and the Father? There are two kinds of knowledge. The first kind is the knowledge which some also have of God. For they know, indeed, of him and say, " I believe in God the Father and his only be gotten Son;" but it is only on the tongue, it does not enter into the heart. Whoever would know the Father well must know him in Christ. But to know Christ in the right way, means to know that he died for me and has taken my sins upon himself. Then I ascend farther up from the Son to the Father and lay hold of God, where he is most tender, and think, O this is God, this is God's will and pleasure, that Christ has done this for me.

4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
“And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."

Remember I told you, etc. The Lord Christ feels it very well himself that it is very highly necessary to tell them this, that they may stand against the great offense. He says, I said it not to you at the beginning; for thus far it has not been necessary, because I was with you. For while ye have me with you, they must leave you in peace, and can do nothing to you, unless they have done it first unto me. This Gospel, (vs.5-15,) is fine, beautiful, and rich beyond measure, but very high and sharp, treating of the high and necessary article from which we have our name and are called Christians.


----

Note 1: the translator used the word "insipient" at this point [meaning "foolish, stupid"] which is a mis-spelling for "incipient" [meaning "origin, beginning, start"].



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 362-364

Monday, May 27, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Holy Saturday - Christ's Burial

Matt 27:57-66
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

Luther's Notes

57. Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea. When the distress had become the greatest, and those who had been the finest Christians cringe and hide themselves, and out of fear, sorrow and sadness know not what to do, or where to stay, then Joseph of Arimathsea comes in, not a humble citizen as the Apostles were, but a councilor at Jerusalem, and a very rich man.

58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 

Asked for the body of Jesus. This was for him a dangerous venture; for thereby he sets himself against the whole council and also Pilate himself, who had condemned the Lord, and gave them to understand that he regarded Jesus as a pious, righteous man, who was wronged before God and the world.

This now is the fruit of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the weakest and most timid hearts come forth without fear or timidity, and confess Christ, and bury his body hanging in such disgrace upon the cross. God, as a rich householder, will have all kinds of servants, not only strong and tall, but also small and weak ones. Now, in order that the strong may not despise anyone, they must experience their own weak ness in themselves; and that no one shall judge another, the Holy Ghost comes upon the weak, exhorts, com forts and strengthens them to such a degree, that every one must see and praise the divine power in them.

60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

 Laid it in his own new tomb. The Evangelists tell particularly that the tomb was in a garden; that it was a new tomb, in which no one had yet lain, and that Joseph had it made for himself. This was done not only that the testimony of Christ's resurrection should be the more positive; but also because a remarkable corpse was to be buried here; it must have a new tomb. And yet this tomb was not his own, but belonged to Joseph. For he lies in the tomb for our sake. But as he had no tomb of his own, so that he would not remain in death and the grave, so also shall we through the power of his resurrection be raised up at the last day and live with him to all eternity.

It is well, also, to notice the example of Joseph, who had his tomb made while he was still living in the body; from which me may assume, that he had not neglected to think about his last hour on earth.

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

command that the tomb be made secure. Here we find the counterpart; for the sun produces an effect according to the material on which it shines; it softens and melts wax, but it hardens and dries mud. This was the case also here.

After three days I will rise. First they lied and said he had spoken of the temple; now they speak the truth, and their former lie becomes apparent. Thus one must have seven lies to cover up one. But the truth comes out for all that and asserts its place.

lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away. Be fore Pilate they pretend that his disciples might steal the body; but the word of the Lord is such a sharp thorn in their hearts, that they apprehend, How, if after all he were the Messiah and would arise from the dead, what shall then become of us? But they do not reform with such thoughts; they do not reflect, Alas, what have we done! but become evidently worse. He who knowingly acts against the word, must fall deeper and deeper into sin, and the more he seeks for rest, the more restless and anxious he must become.

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
You have a guard. Though the Jews had arranged everything, as they thought, in the best way, at last this dilemma only makes their case worse, and promotes the holy gospel against their will. After Christ had risen these very keepers brought the news.



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 155-157.

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Easter Vigil – Jesus' Resurrection

Matt 28:1-10
28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Luther's Notes:

1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 
The first day of the week. The Scriptures begin the day on the previous evening, and the end of the same evening is the morning of the next day. Hence St. Matthew says here, that Christ rose on the morning, which was the end of the evening and the beginning of the first day of the week.

 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

An angel of the Lord descended. From Matthew it can easily be seen that Christ did not arise during the earthquake, but that the earthquake began when the angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone from the tomb. But Christ passed through the closed tomb, without disturbing the seals that were attached to the door at the entrance, just as he did on the evening of the same day, when he passed through the closed doors of the room where the disciples were assembled. By the earthquake and the appearance of the angel, the soldiers were so frightened, that they fell down like dead men. For the angel had not come to bring joy to them; but there were other people, whom the angel had come to comfort and to cheer.

Since the angels were appointed and sent as the first preachers to proclaim the resurrection of Christ, it is a sure sign that Christ rose from the dead for our welfare.

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 

Do not be afraid. This is the first behest, not only to the women, but also to all baptized and believing Christians, who know and believe that Christ is risen, that they shall not fear. By the resurrection of Christ, we comfort ourselves against the devil, death and hell.

 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”


 Go tell His disciples. The other behest is, that they should bring the news to the disciples. But now see who are the disciples. Are they not, indeed, poor sinners, who behaved so badly toward the Lord, and forsook him so shamefully in his greatest distress, especially Peter, who also denied him? Besides, they are now together, and dare not show themselves before the Jews. They have no idea that Christ should live again, and immediately establish his kingdom. Thus we have in this behest the certain indication, that the Lord Christ has arisen for the consolation of these poor, weak-faithed, yea, almost entirely unbelieving ones.

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

Fear and great joy. Christ hereby teaches us all how we should make a right use of his resurrection, and rejoice and be of good comfort.

10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Go tell my brethren. What a consoling message is this, in which he calls his disciples "brethren." This is not an unusual name among men. But when Christ, who is the Son of God, calls us brethren, then it is above all an excellently high and unspeakable name. This title is so high, that no human heart can understand it. If the Holy Ghost does not grant this grace, no one can truly say, "Christ is my brother." The righteous and pious Christians go about in self-abasement and fear, thinking thus: O, what am I, a miserable, poor creature, that the Son of God should be my brother ?

In the world, one often writes to another, "Dear Brother;" and yet in his heart, he may be his bitterest enemy, for whom he wishes all misfortune; but when Christ calls us brethren, he means what he says in his heart, that he will by all means be our brother, and regard us as brethren, and treat us as brethren. Yet there is this difference, that Christ is in himself the natural and eternal Son of God, but we are his adopted children by faith, and not his children by birth. The word, therefore, by which the Lord calls his disciples "brethren," is the true absolution, whereby he absolves us from all our sins.

What more do we want? Now, if Christ is our brother, I should like to know what more we want? Full brothers are joint partakers of the family possessions, they have one father, one inheritance, else they would not be brothers. Now, what is the inheritance of Christ? It is this of which Paul speaks. (1 Cor. 1:30) "Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption."



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 157-158.

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Ash Wednesday – Penitence and Repentance


Matt 6:16-21
16“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Luther's Notes

 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. Now, the Lord begins to warn against those temptations which hinder this doctrine, and takes up first the great beautiful vice of avarice. Also when Christ sent out his apostles to preach, his chief concern and warning was, that they should beware of two things — false doctrine and avarice. Matt. 10:9.

We see that the whole world is immersed in avarice ; for every one is concerned day and night how he shall be nourished. And this promotes the avarice especially, that none are satisfied with what God has graciously bestowed upon them; all want more and to rise higher.

As for my person, who am called a Christian, I should not search anxiously for gold to be laid up, but cleave with my whole heart only to God. Yet outwardly, I shall make use of the temporal possessions, for my body and for the good of others, and gather gold and treasures, so far as my personality in the world is concerned; yet not too much of it, that I may not become a miser, who cares only for himself and can never be satisfied.

Where moth corrupt. With the words, Moth, etc., the Lord places three mine-workers along side of earthly treasures ; namely, rust, moth and thieves. Now God has wisely ordered, that where there are treasures, there must also be companions who watch over it. Now see what kind of a god Mammon is, who has no better watchmen and courtiers about him .

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. You, who are not of the world, but belong to heaven, and have been bought for this purpose by my blood, that you shall have an eternal inheritance, which has been prepared for you, do not let your hearts be taken in.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where your treasure is. If the heart is so disposed and shows it, where it can be shown that I would rather lose, not only gold and goods, but even my life, than forsake or despise the Gospel, and do injustice or violence to my neighbor for my own advantage, then I can conclude that gold and worldly goods is not the treasure of my heart.



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 39-40.

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Maundy Thursday – The Lord's Supper

Luke 22:14-20
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

Luther's Notes

The Passover feast. Nothing is treated of in this passage about the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament, but only of the eating and drinking of the Passover, which Moses commanded. Exodus 12.

In this verse he will say, With this Passover the Mosaic and Jewish pascal lamb, the priesthood, kingdom and service shall cease, and a new Passover shall begin in my kingdom of the New Testament. Therefore, I will also eat the Passover for the last time with you, in order that I may give it the last honor and make an end of it. Just as the Jews, Christ doubtless had shoes on his feet and a staff in his hand, as though he was ready to depart.

 I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes This also has no reference to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, but it was a parting drink [Letzetrunk] in the Passover. As if the Lord would say, This shall be the St. John's drink, [Johannestrunk]. Now I drink it yet with you as it was ordained by Moses; but after this I will drink it no more. Upon this he established a new Passover.

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

And he took the bread and gave thanks. This text we can easily keep in mind, for it is not long, and besides is fine, plain and clear. Here let us open our eyes and sharpen our ears, and hold these words, certain and firm.

This is my body, this is my blood. He does not appoint a heavy work, for eating and drinking is the very easiest, yea, the most pleasant work in the whole world, and there is nothing which men would rather do.

When one preaches of the sacrament, it is a burden to them (i.e., the unregenerate, Tr.); when one exhorts them, they regard it as a still greater burden. For they fear they must become pious and forsake their sins. It is true, we shall be pious and for sake our sins; yet we must not frighten people away from the sacrament; for it is a lovely, consolable meal.

Just as he baptizes you, and puts you into the water, not that you should be drowned and perish in the water, but that through this bath thou should be redeemed from sin and born again; thus also he gives you in this sacrament his body and blood to eat and to drink; not to strangle and kill you, but to refresh and quicken you.

Two reasons for taking the sacrament. Two reasons should urge us to partake of the sacrament. The first is our own benefit and need; I shall partake of the sacrament, that I may be relieved of my sins and quickened in my spiritual life.

In the second place, we should be induced to receive the sacrament by the honor and service of God, who has instituted it, and commanded us to celebrate it. Many of the old church fathers have called it the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving.

The pope has made a sacrifice out of the sacrament (or an office, that is, a divine service,) and such a sacrifice whereby the whole world should be reconciled to God, though neither the sacrament nor the use of the sacrament is a sacrifice of works, whereby the grace and help of God can be merited or acquired; but the use of the sacrament, or the remembrance of Christ (as the Lord himself calls it,) is a thank offering, whereby we confess and thank God that we are justified and saved out of pure grace and the sufferings, death and shedding of the blood of Christ. This is the meaning of what Christ says, Do this in remembrance of me. With the words, remembrance of me, he sets aside the remembrance of the old Passover lamb.

What shall we preach? Some might ask, Shall we preach nothing, but that Christ died for us? Is it not enough to preach this once? I have heard it often and understand it very well now. Answer: The Jews were required to think of their redemption out of Egypt, not only once, but repeatedly and continually. Why then should we Christians take offense at continually repeating the remembrance of our redemption, wherein Christ has redeemed us from sin, death, hell and the devil? I will say of myself : I am a doctor of the Holy Scriptures, yet the more I consider the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the more I delight in them.

When you forsake God's word and prayer, you lose a power and fervor of your soul. Therefore we must daily run back to the word. If you do this not, then see to it, that you do not become too cold and too indolent, until at last you yourself have no more feeling, and in a few years remain away from the sacrament.


Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 260-262

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