Monday, February 29, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare – Bread of Life: Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

John 6:1-15
6 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Luther's Notes

5 If When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 
Whence shall we buy bread? The Lord Christ asks Philip, before the people complain or ask, in order that we should always let him care for us and know that he interests himself for us more and sooner than we do ourselves.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 
Two hundred pennyworth. We see that Philip is not deficient in arith metic. We also can count up very well what we shall need and must have for our household. But as soon as we see that provision is wanting, we become discouraged. This was the case also with Andrew.

What are they among so many? The Evangelist did not wish this to be left unnoticed, in order that we may learn by the example of the disciples, that such calculations are entirely useless; if, indeed, we are Christians and have Christ with us.

Nothing in the world hinders faith as much as riches on the one side and poverty on the other. Against these two things which hinder on both sides, Christ speaks here, and teaches the middle state; namely, to be neither too rich nor too poor, but learn to trust God, that he will sustain us, and be content with what God daily gives us.

Who clothes the trees, which are bare in the winter, but as soon as the summer begins are loaded with leaves and fruits? Who causes the corn to grow so abundantly? Do not I, (as the Lord means to teach by this miracle, ) who herewith have fed 5000 people with two fishes and five loaves? But here reason says: Yes, as regards the trees and the corn and other things, that occurs every year; there fore it is not extraordinary and miraculous; but this feeding of 5000 people with two fishes and five loaves occurred only once; therefore it is extraordinary and miraculous. Answer: What is the reason that this appears to you extraordinary and miraculous, and that the former case, when out of single grains innumerable ones grow, is not miraculous to you? That is not the fault of God or his works, but it is the fault of your unbelief, that you are so blind and hardened, and can not know God's wonders.
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 
Make the men sit down. Here again he gives us an example of great love, and this in different ways:

First, That he performs this miracle not only for the benefit of the pious people, who follow him on ac count of his works and words; but also for the benefit of the belly-slaves, who seek only eating and drinking and temporal honor from him. V. 26; see Matthew 5:45.

Secondly, In that he endures so kindly the rudeness of his disciples and weak faith.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 
In taking the five loaves and giving thanks, he teaches us that nothing is too little for his people, and that he can easily bless that little, so that they shall have abundance, while even the rich in their riches have not enough. Psalm 34:11; Luke 1:53.

After this he "distributed to the disciples and the disciples to them that were set down." Thus all the teachers take the word from Christ and give it to the people. See Matthew 23:10.

And likewise of the fishes, as much as they would. He gave not as much as there was on hand, but "as much as they would." Here we must not think that he did this only at that time and does not wish to continue to do so, also, among his Christians. For we see examples of this blessing every day; not only as regards food, but also as regards all other kinds of want, for which he wonderfully and unexpectedly devises ways and means.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 
Gather up the fragments. We must diligently preserve God's blessings and not squander them away, but save them for future needs. But when this is not done, and God's blessings are so sinfully and shame fully abused. God is driven by such vices to withhold, and where there has been one year of abundant harvests, there will follow two or three years of failure.

By commanding his disciples to gather up the fragments that were left over, the Lord does not wish to be understood that we should be covetous, but that you might be able to serve your neighbor in times of need.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 300-301.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

ELH 41, Lamb of God, Pure and Holy, The Agnus Dei, Lead Sheet

Liturgical and ELH Graphic Resources/Lead Sheets

A list of links to posts containing graphics of my lead sheet settings to the liturgical parts, canticles, Psalms, and Hymns of  the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary. These are my own settings and may be used by any congregation which owns the ELH.

This list also contains links to other resources.

The links in this list may be expanded as I make more available. They may also be changed when/if I post corrections.

Rite I

Rite II

Divine Service Parts In Hymns

The Offices





Post List:

ELH: Gloria In Excelis Deo, Rite II, p. 64 Lead Sheet

ELH 35 All Glory Be To God On High: Lead Sheet Graphic

The Kyrie, ELH Lead Sheet Settings

Printable Copies for Bulletins

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Third Sunday in Lent: Oculi – Triumph over Satan: Jesus Casts Out A Demon

Sun February 28, 2016
Luke 11:14-28
14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Luther's Notes

Vs. 14-28, see Matthew 12:22-30.
14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 
A dumb devil. The man was blind, as Matthew says, dumb, and also deaf, and possessed of a devil, as Luke says here. Therewith the Lord draws us to himself, so that we shall expect every thing good from him.

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Matthias the Apostle

Wed February 24, 2016

Matt. 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Luther's Notes

25 If At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 
Hid from the wise. Here we must look aside from the Divinity of Christ, and look upon him as any other common preacher.

He speaks of worldly wisdom, which interferes with God's word and work, and makes the people highminded, and will not admit the true, divine wisdom.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Second Sunday in Lent: Reminiscere – Persistent Faith: The Woman of Canaan

Matt 15:21-28
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
23 But He answered her not a word.
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Luther's Notes

21 If Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 
The woman of Canaan. In this woman is represented to us the struggle of faith, where not only the person, but all other circumstances are so unfavorable that they could not be worse. For first, she is a heathen woman. It is no fun, when conscience confronts and says, O you are none of those that should ask, you do not belong to Christ; let Paul or Peter pray, but our God will not hear you, you have no faith; perhaps you are not one of the elect. But so great is that woman's heart, and her trust in God, that she thinks, He will not forsake me. With such confidence she overlooks the fact that she is a heathen. Thus do thou also say, I may be what I am, it matters not.

Thou Son of David. She gives herewith a beautiful, glorious confession of her faith in him, that he is the promised Savior, whom God hath sent into the world.

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 
He answered her not a word. Is this that good and friendly man? Or are these the good words which I have heard spoken of him and in which I have confided? It can not be true, he is thine enemy, and wants nothing to do with thee. Oh, this is a hard rebuff, when God shows him self so earnest and angry, and hides his grace so high and so deep, as those know very well, who feel and suppose in their hearts, that he will not keep what he has promised. Yet, in spite of this, like that woman, we must cling to the word only.

The disciples became tired of the crying of the woman; in their mind they are more pious than Christ himself.

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 
Sent unto the lost sheep of Israel. But when they think he should be come more lenient, he becomes harder, and refuses her petition. This other rebuff or test is harder still, since not only her own person is repelled, but also the only consolation which was yet left her is refused; namely, the intercession of pious and holy people. Here one might confront Christ with all those words in which he promised to hear all his saints, as in Matthew 18:20; Mark 11:24.

25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me. 
Lord, help me. She might readily be called an impertinent woman. But this is written for our instruction and consolation, that we should learn what a cordial pleasure Christ takes in our importunity and perseverance.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 
The children's bread cast to the dogs. This third rebuff is the sharpest of them all, and in truth, Christ is no where in the Gospel pictured so hard as here. To be classed as a dog among the children, is as much as not even to be reckoned among the servants, but to be plainly excluded from the eternal inheritance of the children.

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. 
Dogs eat of the crumbs. This is a high and excellent example, in which one sees what a mighty thing faith is; her faith takes Christ at his word, when he is most angry, and draws from a hard reply a comforting conclusion, in that she immediately turns his word back upon himself, and interprets it to her advantage.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. 
O, woman, great is thy faith! What could he do, the dear Jesus? He was caught. Oh, if only every one could do this; he likes so much to let himself be caught. He replies: O, woman, canst thou suffer and endure rebuffs in thy heart; then be it unto thee according to thy faith.

He gives here more than a dog's right; he does not only heal her daughter, but offers to give what she asks and desires to have, and places her among the seed of Abraham.

Hard as Christ appears, he gives no final decision, in which he would say "no;" though all his answers, indeed, sound like "no"; yet they are not "no," but they suspend and waive. For he does not say, in verse 23, I will not grant thy request, but is silent, says neither yea, nor nay. So also in verse 24, he does not say that she is not of the house of Israel; but that he had been sent only to the house of Israel, and therefore lets it be suspended and waived between yea and nay. So also in verse 26 he does not say, Thou art a dog, but, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs," and leaves it undecided whether she is a dog or not.

We must perceive and hold with a firm faith in God's word the deep se cret yea under and above the nay, as this woman does, and accept God's decision against us; then we shall gain the victory and catch him in his own words. For we bring all our disgrace upon ourselves in that we do not admit God's judgment against us and say yea to it, when he regards and judges us as sinners. And if the condemned could do it, they would be instantly saved. We, indeed, say with the mouth that we are sinners; but when God himself says it in the heart, then we do not admit it, and would like to be regarded as pious, and be rid of the condemnation. But it must be so; if God is right in his words, that thou art a sinner, then thou canst make use of the rights of all sinners, which God has given them; namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 91-93.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: First Sunday in Lent: Invocavit – Temptation: Jesus Tempted by Satan

Matt 4:1-11
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Luther's Notes

1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit in to the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 
Jesus . . tempted of the devil. In this example of the Lord Jesus Christ we see that every Christian, as soon as he is baptized, is drafted into the army against the very devil, who persecutes him as long as he lives.

Led by the Spirit. That is, he did not go into the wilderness of his own accord or desire, to strive there with the devil, but the Holy Ghost called him into the wilderness. No one should of his own accord undertake an important work or run into danger, unless he is sure that God has commanded him to do so, by his word, or by men who, in the place of God, have authority over him.

Into the wilderness. Thus it is with us when led and left alone in the wilderness, just as Christ was led into the wilderness and was left alone of God, angels, men and all creatures. There am I in the right school, and learn what I am, how weak my faith is, what a great and strange thing it is about the true faith, and how deep the shameful unbelief lies in the hearts of all men.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 
Fasted forty days. Two kinds of commendable fasting are presented to us in the Scriptures: The one kind is that which we willingly endure, to keep the flesh in subjection to the spir it (1 Corinthians 9:27). The other is when we willingly suffer, on account of want or poverty. 1 Corinthians 4:11; Matthew 9:14-17.

This is true Christian fasting: grieving and mourning; that is, when we endure all kinds of trouble and distress, imposed upon us by God, which is oppressive to us, and of which we would like to be relieved, as when one, with his wife and children, must endure hunger, be banished or imprisoned and the like, of which Saint Paul speaks, 2 Corinthians 6:4, 6.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 
The tempter came to him. Doubtless the tempter approached him in a bodily form, perhaps in the form of an angel. The devil's form he would hardly assume; for he likes to appear beautiful when he intends to lie and deceive.

If thou be the Son of God. He says to Christ, "How fatherly God acts towards thee, that he does not send thee even a crust of bread, and suffers thee to be so poor and needy." With such thoughts he indeed tempts all the children of God, and Christ certainly also felt their force; for he was no stock or stone, although he was pure and without sin, and so continues, as we cannot.

Christ is tried as one who must first be instructed, in order that he may not begin such an important work as an inexperienced neophyte, who might afterwards not be steadfast in the faith. 1 Timothy 4.

Thus also a Christian is tried, especially a teacher, whether he can endure poverty. This trial is very common also with pious people, and is particularly felt by those who are poor and have children and a house, but nothing therein.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 
But Jesus answered. Notice here how cunningly the devil presents his temptations, so that they become too strong for nature, and nature looks upon them as most reasonable and proper. But Christ understands the devil's language very well; he did not intend that Christ should perform a miracle, but he tried to rob him of his faith and confidence in God's goodness and mercy. Then the Lord replies, "Oh, not so, devil !"

Man lives not by bread alone. He takes the sword of the Spirit, God's word; with this he strengthens himself, and strikes down the devil.

This is a thing of the first importance, that we learn to esteem God's word highly, believe it, and do not permit any want or misfortune to move us, or conclude that God is not gracious to us, that he will not help us, or has forgotten us. Against such temptations nothing can strengthen us but the word of God. This is that kind of bread and food, "of which if a man eat, (that is, believes the word) he hath eternal life." Mark this well.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 
Pinnacle of the temple. Here he attacks him neither with hunger nor pain; but he leads him into the Holy Scriptures, and poses as a doctor or teacher of the Scriptures, as he quotes the beautiful text in Psalm 91:11-12.

Cast thyself down. When the devil cannot succeed in making us lose confidence in God, then he seeks on the other hand to fill us with presumption, pride and self-conceit, so that we believe even that which God hath not commanded us to believe.

This temptation seldom succeeds in material, external things, but in spiritual things it hath great power. For the self-righteous and unbelieving hypocrites trust in God with their works, where there is no trace or track of faith and trust, and think that God hath so directed them in the Scriptures.

Angels shall bear thee up. Here the Scripture is quoted; but see what a masterpiece the treacherous serpent and father of all lies makes use of! He quotes Scripture, but omits the most important part. For the passage reads thus, "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways;" but the protection of the angels does not extend farther than the ways which God hath commanded us to go. These last words the knave omits, for they are against him.

Where man goes in the ways of God, that is, attends to the rightful duties of his office, there the angels are commanded to keep him.

Christ is now in the wilderness, not that he shall perform miracles, but that he shall suffer. He shall be a suffering man.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. To tempt God is to deviate from his ordinary command and undertake to do, without regard to God, something new or extraordinary.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
All the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. This third and last temptation has reference to worldly fortune, where one is incited to pleasure, honor, and power, and everything that is high. For whom the devil cannot overcome with poverty, want, misery and trouble, he attacks with riches, fortune, honor, pleasure, power, etc., and fights against us from both sides; yea, as St. Peter says, he "goeth about as a roaring lion."

Of this kind are the heretics, who instigate sects and dissentionsin the faith among Christians, that they may lift their heads high, and be held in great honor before the world.

Fall down and worship me. This temptation, whereby the devil under takes to bring us into idolatry by means of honor and power, contrary to the word of God, is very coarse, and contributes much to the delusion that external holiness has such an attraction in the eyes of human reason, and glistens more brilliantly than all obedience to the word of God.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Angels came and ministered unto him. This is written for our encouragement, that we may know that many angels serve us, where but one devil tempts us; if we fight valiantly and stand firm, then God will not let us suffer want; sooner must the angels come from heaven and become our bakers, waiters and cooks and serve us in all our necessities.

In this Gospel the devil is painted in all his colors:

I. The black devil. In the first temptation, about the stones and bread, the black devil is painted. The people know him and call him devil. This is the devil that harassed bodily so many individual Christians, and also nearly the whole of the first Christian Church, with all kinds of trouble, distress, anguish and misery, soon after the ascension of Christ. This persecution of the early Christians lasted over three hundred years.

II. The pinnacle of the temple. Soon after this hunger, massacre and murder, came the other devil — thinking, If I cannot scare them off with my black, ugly color, I will try something else. Then he became the luminous, white and holy devil, and represented himself as an angel of God. He now attacked Christianity, not with bodily persecution, but with its own armor and weapons; that is, the Holy Scriptures, by which they had defended themselves against all his bodily assaults. For soon after Constantine had become a Christian, arose detestable heretics; not the early heretics and their disciples such as Ebion and Cerinthus, but the arch-heretics, such as the Arians, the Donatists, the Gnostics, Euno- mians, Manichseans, etc., who all stormed against Christ. One party stormed against his humanity, and the other party against his divinity. In this way the devil led them out of the desert, but not into the temple, but on the pinnacle of the temple, from which they cast themselves down and broke their necks.

III. Fall down and worship me. The third period of Christianity has been called the time of the Anti-Christ. This was to be the chief broth in which the devil knocked the bottom entirely out of the barrel. (Die grundsuppe, da der Teufel dem fass den Boden gar ausstiess. )

Here he was no more the black devil, as in the first temptation and persecution; nor the cunning white devil, that disputed out of the Scriptures; but on the contrary, an entirely godly, majestic devil, who proclaims himself unreservedly as God himself, saying, Fall down and worship me!

This was the last great calamity of the Christian Church. After the dear fathers had vanquished the roguish devil in the persons of the early heretics, and had put down the arch-heretics, the people had become tired of wranglings over the Scriptures, fell off entirely from the Scriptures, and every one taught and be lieved as he pleased.

Thus the pope fell down and worshipped the devil, and received in return worldly honors, gold, wealth, and power over emperors, kings, princes and lords; and in addition to all this, the name and title of the Most Holy!

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 20-23.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Baptism of our Lord, Jesus

Historic Lectionaries vary on the choice of when to observe this Feast. Some of the dates include Epiphany (January 6), LSB the Sunday before Transfiguration, ELH the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

Matt 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Luther's Explanatory Notes

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 
Then cometh Jesus to be baptized of him. This is a wonderful humiliation. He does not permit himself to be proclaimed; he does not glorify himself until the Father glorifies him. He waited for the voice to come from heaven:

This is my beloved Son. Christ does not act under these circumstances as we vain fellows do; when we read only a little word, then we take our mouths full, we can not restrain ourselves, we must proclaim it abroad, so that all the world may hear it.

After the glorification he goes to work; he enters on his office, and now he proceeds grandly; for now Christ has become a different man, not different as regards his person, but as regards his office.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and contest thou to me? 
John forbad him. John the Evangelist writes, (John 1:30-33) that John the Baptist had not known Jesus. Answer: He did not know him before his baptism, but he must have had an impression that there was something more in him who was standing before him, than an ordinary man— he had an intimation from the Spirit.

John humbles himself and is willing to subject himself to Christ as a pious man; and again, Christ subjects him self to John; as also pious Christians do.
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 
To fulfill all righteousness. That is, Thus it becometh us to fulfill all the requirements of the law, in order that poor sinners maybe justified and saved, and thus you must baptize me. Upon this baptism depends the righteousness of the whole world. For, because I bear the sin of the whole world, I must do what God has commanded sinners to do; namely, that they must permit themselves to be baptized by me.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 
The heavens were opened. Heaven, which before was closed, now opens, and becomes a gate and window over the baptism of Christ, that all can look in; and henceforth there shall be no more alienation between God and us. For God the Father himself is present and declares, "This is my beloved Son."

Spirit descending like a dove. The dove descending was the sign, that the Holy Ghost will not be angry with us, but through Christ will help us to be pious and blessed.
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 
My beloved Son. This is a short sermon, but so rich and broad, that no man on earth can comprehend or entirely understand it to all eternity. For therein the divine Majesty embraces and dispenses all its divine wisdom and understanding, and pours out God's will and heart, that all that he himself is and can accomplish may be come manifest. But this is infinite and incomprehensible, and yet all embraced in this one person, who is called Christ. It points us only to him, and knows nothing else to preach about but this Christ, who has just been baptized.

Such manner of speech as he employs here, "This is my Son," we find nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures, where he speaks of only one, or calls a single person his Son (see Hebrews 1:5; Psalm 89:28; Psalm 2:7) But where he calls other persons his sons, there he speaks either of many, or of a whole multitude. With the word, "My Son," he means, as in Hosea 11:1, the whole people of Israel.

For himself he is not in need of such praise, but herein he is revealed to us, that we also may know, what is to be thought of him; namely, that in this person, (which is revealed to us in human form) are concerned heaven and earth, angels and men, righteousness, life, sin, death, hell, and everything that can be named, which is not God himself.

In whom I am well pleased. Here with he consecrates him also as a priest. By this every thing is excluded, which we can do and under take.

Here we see that in these words God draws Christ into himself, and himself into Christ, inasmuch as he takes pleasure in everything that Christ does; and again in these same words he pours out both himself and Christ, his beloved Son, upon us, and draws us into himself, so that he be comes entirely humanized (vermenscht) and we become entirely deified (vergottet) See John 14:23; 12:26; 17:21; 1:16-17; 3:13, 16, l8, 35-36; Titus 3:4-8.

This is a different voice from that on Mount Sinai. The Father says, Here ye have not an angel, prophet, or apostle, but my son and myself, my own heart, and the right, eternal spring and fountain of all grace and goodness.

All this has been done to the honor and praise of the sacrament of Holy Baptism. For it is not a human work, but a great and holy thing. There are great persons connected with it; the Father, who gives and speaks here; the Son, who receives and is baptized; the Holy Ghost, who descends upon the Son, and lets himself be seen in the form of a dove; and no doubt the heavenly choir of the holy angels are there also, who rejoice greatly over this work; for where the Father, Son and Holy Ghost permit themselves to be seen, there the whole host of heaven must also be present. The whole heaven also stands wide open.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 18-20.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Quinquagesima -- Faith Alone: Up to Jerusalem

Quinquagesima SundayLuke 18:31-43
31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”
42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Luther's Explanatory Notes

31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 
All things written by the prophets shall be accomplished: The Scripture speaks only of Christ, and everything in it concerns Christ; he must fulfill the Scriptures by his death. But if it must be done by his death, then our death contributes nothing to it. Therefore, learn to say: My death avails nothing and I will not regard it as my consolation, I do not depend upon it for the forgiveness of my sins, but I will suffer death for the praise and honor of God, freely and without reward, and for the benefit and service of my neighbor, and in no way will I rely upon this.

But he speaks these words before he has endured his sufferings, in order that afterwards they might be the stronger in faith, when they re membered that he had said these things before, and that he had willingly taken upon himself these sufferings, and was not crucified by the power and craft of his enemies, the Jews. Isaiah 53:7; Luke 24:6.

And this is the right way of under standing the sufferings of Christ, when we recognize not only his suf ferings, but also his heart and willingness to suffer. This gives real con solation, trust and joy in Christ. (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:10) As he has willingly given himself for us, so we also should emulate the same example of love.
34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. 
And they understood none of these things. For their heart stood thus: This man performs so many miracles, that we must see and realize that God is with him. Therefore he must become a great lord in due time; for the Scripture says of him, that he shall have a glorious kingdom, above all the kings and lords of the earth, and we, his servants, shall also become princes and great lords. All of God's works are of this nature; when we speak of them before they are performed, they can not be comprehended; but after they are performed, then we understand and see them. Thus St. John mentions several times, that the disciples of Christ afterward understood what he had told them. Hence the word of God and faith belong together.
35 If And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the wayside begging:
 The blind beggar. The blind man signifies the spiritually blind; such is every man born of Adam, who neither sees nor perceives the kingdom of God; but this is a grace, that he feels and realizes his blindness and desires to be relieved of it.

36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: and he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 
Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. In the first place, he hears it said that Christ was passing by; he had also previously heard, that Jesus of Nazareth was a kind man, who helps every one that calls upon him. His faith had grown from such hearing. In the second place, he firmly believes, and doubts not, that what he heard of him is true.

Jesus, have mercy on me. In the third place, according to his faith, he cries also and prays, as St. Paul also describes this order. Romans 10:13-14.

In the fourth place, he also openly confesses Christ, without the fear of man.

That he should hold his peace. In the fifth place, he struggles not only with his conscience, which no doubt, hath told him that he was not worthy of this mercy, but also with those who threatened him and told him to be still, who thereby wished to alarm his conscience and discourage him; where faith begins, there struggle and contest also begin.

In the sixth place, he remains firm, perseveres and wins. Hereby the Evangelist teaches us a good beggar's art, that we should learn to beg of God, and not be afraid or ashamed, but persevere. Vs. 1-8.
40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people when they saw it, gave praise unto God. 
What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? As if he would say, Ask what you please, it shall be granted. The blind man does not hesitate long, but says, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." The Lord replied, "Yes, thou shalt see." This means, ask shamelessly, but receive graciously. Thus it will be to all who hold fast to the word of God, close their eyes and ears against the devil, the world and themselves, act as though they and God were alone in heaven and on earth.

Thy faith hath saved thee. Christ relinquishes the honor of the miracles, and bestows it on the faith of the blind man.

He followed Christ. In the seventh place, he followed Christ; that is, he walked in the path of love and the cross.

Glorified God. In the eighth place, he brings the right sacrifice of praise, which is well pleasing to God. Psalm 50:23.

The people praise God. In the ninth place, he causes many others also to praise God in him.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 249-250.