15 April 2013

The Weak and Sick Christ

This passage from Martin Luther's Easter Tuesday sermon (1538) is amazing. We Christians tend to be a judgmental lot, and we can all stand to hear Luther's exhortation.

"Besides this there is another thing that hinders the free movement of the Gospel, namely the infirmities of the believers. This we see in many examples. Thus although Peter was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, yet he fell and stumbled, — he and all that were with him, — when he walked not according to the Gospel nor according as he had taught, so that Paul had to reprove him openly, Galatians 2:14. There clung to him many great and holy men, and all stumbled with him. Again, we read that Mark journeyed with Paul, but afterward fell away and withdrew from him; and in Acts 15:37 we read again that Paul and Barnabas strove together, and there arose a sharp contention between them. And, before this, we read in the Gospels how often the apostles erred in weighty matters. though they were the best of Christians.

"These infirmities of Christians and believers darken the Gospel most of all, so that men who deem themselves wise and learned stumble and are offended in them. Few there are who can well reconcile these things so as to take no offense and hence say: Yes, these desire to be good Christians, and are still so wayward, envious, filled with hate and wrath, that one thinks the Gospel has been preached in vain. This really signifies to be offended in the weak and sick Christ.

"It was also thus with the disciples. At first, when Christ wrought great and excellent works, and gained great honors, and began the work only to fulfill it, they remained steadfast, though many great and noble saints and learned men were offended, because he would not join them. The common man on the contrary was instructed; and the people clung to him, because they saw that with great power he wrought such excellent works; and also walked so that none could reproach him, but all must needs say: Truly this is a great and holy prophet! But when his suffering began, they all turned back and forsook him, and not one of his disciples continued with him.

"Why was this? Because they considered him not the strong, but the weak Christ. He now was in the hands of the Jews, did no more works and miracles just as if he had lost all his power and was forsaken of God. Then perished completely his power and his great name. Before, they counted him a prophet, the like of whom had never appeared; now he is rated as a murderer and a condemned man. Who could now see that this was Christ, the Son of God? Here all reason must fall, yea, all the great and holy saints; for they thought: If he were the Christ, there would needs appear the fruits whereby we might know that it is he, but now we see in him only weakness and sin and death.

"Therefore it is the highest wisdom on earth, though it is known by very few men, how to bear with the weak Christ. For if I see a pious, holy man leading a beautiful godly life, who will thank me for praising him and saying: There is Christ, and there is righteousness? For although bishops and great dunces be offended in such an one, the common people will be instructed. But if he be feeble and falter, straightway everyone will be offended and say: Alas! I had imagined him to be a good Christian, but I see that he falls short of it. However, if they look about them, they will find none without like infirmities, yea, they will perceive it in themselves. Still they think that the Gospel has come to naught. Thus might they think, if God were not able, in his wisdom, to hide it, even as he put a covering over Christ when he drew over him death and weakness, and Christ was under it, though no man could see it. Hence he told his disciples in advance, Matthew 26:31: '
All, all ye, shall be offended in me, and shall no more think nor believe that I am the Christ.” Hence, if we judge the Gospel, as I have said, according to the infirmity and weakness of Christians, as they stumble at times, a very great obstacle is presented at which offense is taken and the Gospel is thought to be without power.'"

4 comments:

Mom said...

Excellent blog! Btw, today is your Paw Paw's bd.....you should call him! Love ya buddy!

Erica said...

I just read an article about an artist trying to find someone who would house a sculpture he made of Jesus as a homeless man. And apparently the reason he had trouble was simply because people were offended that Christ was being depicted as amongst the dregs of society.

Which is where he kind of hung out a lot, but no one seems to remember that.

Erica said...

Also I'm glad to see Mom isn't confining her nagging to me. :D

Mom said...

Erica, I was'nt nagging....just reminding. Tis a difference. Anywho, I have to remind both of you about everything....lol! Love ya both bunches!