Thursday, January 21, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Confession of St. Peter (January 18)

January 18th

Confession of St. Peter

Gospel: Mark 8:27-9:1

27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” 28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
1 And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

Luther's Explanatory Notes

Vs. 27-29, see Matthew 16:23-28

Luther's notes:

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 
Get thee behind me, Satan. Here it is to be marked, that in matters pertaining to salvation no person should be trusted, except Christ, even when spoken by the apostle Peter himself. For we see here plainly that Peter, together with the whole company of the apostles, while speaking outside of and without the confession of the rock, and of his own accord, did not only act foolishly, but also spoke such words as are in opposition to the rock, and that the Lord himself expressly called him Satan. (See 1 Corinthians 3:11; 16:22; Galatians 1:8; 2 Peteter 1:19-21; Matthew 3:17 ff.) What else is at this day the teaching of the pope, but human fancy; yea, in opposition to the rock, or against the confession of Christ?
24 If Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,
Deny himself, take up his cross. These are the two parts of the Christian life: to despair of one's self, and afterwards take up his cross. For true self-denial consists not only in forsaking possessions, goods and houses. Here Christ's main purpose is, that he may crush the head of the serpent; namely, to crush the trust in or imagination of the righteousness by the law and works. We are to deny our trust in all that we are and do.

Take up his cross. These words are not to be understood as meaning that we should choose a cross. Begin only with the first part (self-denial) and then the cross will come of itself.

His cross. But very remarkably he adds his cross. For he does not teach that we should bear the identical cross which he bore. Every one's cross has already been prepared; that is, according to the measure of each one's strength. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Therefore, let no one murmur, when he imagines that another one has a lighter burden. For on his part that one has less strength, and a burden which is adjusted to his strength, as if it were circumscribed according to geometrical proportions.

Then as regards "following," it is not he that begins, but he that endureth to the end, shall be saved. Matthew 24:13.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 
Save his life. He speaks these wonderfully strange words, in order that they may be fixed the more firmly in their memories.

He that loves his life; that is, who seeks peace, honor and good days, without Christ, shall lose the eternal peace.

For my sake. Many lose their life in a presumptuous way (proud heretics.)

To lose his life does not mean here merely to die, but also every suffering, every cross, every evil, adversity, danger and temptation., whereby the cheerful life and the peace of the flesh is disturbed.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 
What is a man profited? This profit, which one seeks, is short, is also very small, because it is the smallest part of the peace, or of the good of the whole world. On the other hand, the cross is also short, and the smallest part in comparison with eternal damnation.

What shall a man give in exchange? As if he would say, It would not be so very surprising or deplorable, if men for the sake of the present life should lose the future life, if the nature of the future damnation were such, that one could afterwards be redeemed from it or if one could return again from hell; but now a lost soul cannot be redeemed again,— for it has not the price of redemption, — namely me, (Christ.)
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 
The Son of man shall come in glory. As if he would say, Although they feel secure and have a good time in this world, and therefore do not trou ble themselves about the future; yet it is certain that they will have to stand before my judgment seat, though they do not believe it now. O, what a great consistory that will be, which shall be held in the pres ence of the divine majesty, and also in the presence of so many thousand angels.

Reward according to works. Here it is to be noted,

First, That in this life there is no recompense for true piety or godliness; but it will be postponed until the judgment seat of Christ.

Secondly, Whoever would be pious, let him firmly conclude with himself that he shall realize his hope in the future world.

In the third place, The words, "he shall reward every man according to his works," are to be taken in an eminent sense, that he will also condemn the works of those who are praised and canonized in this world.

Christ teaches here, not how we are to become righteous, but, how the righteousness or the unrighteousness shall be tested, whether they were righteous or unrighteous. He says, "every man," etc. That is, according to the character of the person that has done the works, he, not the works, will receive the reward. Man is, anterior to the work, either good or bad.

28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. 
See the Son of man coming. The meaning is this: Through me death is swallowed up in victory, so that also some who stand here shall die without death, or rather, shall fall asleep, in that they do not feel the power of death. (John 11:25-26; 8:51; 12:25) Therefore these words are a preface to the following chapter.

Many of these, my present and future disciples, the Lord says, will indeed fall asleep in death, yet without pain; but not all. For in the one the power of the resurrection is stronger than in the other, as also the prophets complain of the fear of death and of the pains of hell. Psalm 6.

But what do the dead do or suffer in the meantime, until the Son of man cometh? In regard to those who die without pain, or do not taste of death, there is no doubt that, in the interval until the coming of Christ, they shall suffer no evil. But of those who do not die without pain, we can safely entertain this opinion, that, after they shall have tasted death, and are separated from the body, they will cease to taste death, and will then rest in peace and security until the coming of Christ. (See Revelation 14:13) But if they rest, then it follows that there is no Purgatory.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 168. p. 99-101.