Third Sunday in Advent Sermon B.
The Saviour said to the Jews: "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." Matthew 21:32
Thus spoke the Saviour to the chief priests and scribes when they came to ask him by whose power He had begun to teach people and do miracles, and by whose permission He began to overturn the tables of the liquor merchants. The chief priests and the scribes wanted to know who had given Him permission to so teach the people contrary to the other priests. Then again He returned the question of the chief priests, if the baptism of John had come from God or from men. But the chief priests did not want to say that the baptism of John was of men or a concoction of ones own intellect, for the priests knew that the people believed Johnís baptism to have come from God; but the priests did not believe that. Because now the priests surmised among themselves how they should answer that they would not come into some entanglement of the intellect, they said among themselves: "If we shall say, from heaven; He will say unto us, why did ye not then believe him? But if we say, of men; we fear the people." At last they had to say, "We cannot tell." So say also the Pharisees of this time when such a question is placed before them, of which there would be a fear that they would become entangled according to intellect if they would answer wrong: so they put themselves into ignorance and say: "We do not know." And with that cloak of ignorance they imagine that they will become free of all responsibility. But the Saviour asked them with that intention that they would entangle themselves, for the Saviour well knew that the chief priests did not hold John to be a right teacher, but a false prophet. And so it would go even now if John would rise up and begin to preach as he then preached: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" It would go so, that all scribes and Pharisees would begin to hate him and says, "This is none other than some false prophet and wild spirit who barks at respectable people as a generation of vipers." If yet some Nazarene would ask the Pharisees, "Was the baptism of John from heaven?", then they would no doubt answer, "We do not know", or they would go out from that church where such is preached that people are a generation of vipers. They would yet say, "We have not lived in such a manner that a single priest or false prophet needs to come to bark at us." And the Pharisees of this time would become even more angry if the Nazarene would say to them: "John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him." Thus say the Pharisees of this time, "Publicans and harlots!" That is, custom hounds and whores; they quite easily believe upon him. If the Nazarene would yet say to them: "Although you see how publicans and harlots believe John, you nevertheless have not made repentance, that you would have believed him."
Truly the scribes and Pharisees of this time have seen how publicans and harlots have believed that the baptism and doctrine of John are from heaven, and they have also seen how whores and thieves have made repentance. They have seen how devil's dung has flowed unto the ground, of which remorse has come to the liquor merchants and horror has come to the drunkards; for if devil's dung had not flowed unto the ground, remorse would not have come to liquor merchants; if devil's dung would not have flowed to the ground, it would not have become a horror to the drunkards. But surely, for that reason, the greater liquor merchants bear hatred in their hearts, and threaten to kill that wild spirit and false prophet who first began to call God's grain devil's dung.
Nevertheless this same man is still living and intends to still call God's grain devil's dung, though it is surely one great and abominable sin that a person must spoil God's grain, that it changes even into devil's dung. Not a single one in the thousand years before would have believed that God's grain should turn into devil's dung, but nevertheless it has so happened. But cursed be everyone who changes God's grain into devil's dung; and cursed be everyone who puts devil's dung into his mouth, for the evil spirit smells in everyone who puts devil's dung into his mouth. But the greater liquor merchants do not therefore cease transporting devil's dung, although remorse has come to them because devil's dung has flowed to the ground. Nor do the greater merchants yet cease drinking that flowing and cooked devil's dung, although some drunkards have become horrified that such grain has flowed to the ground. Meek whores have also seen how public whores have begun to make repentance when John began to bark at them; but meek whores do not yet believe that the baptism of John is from heaven, for meek whores follow the example of that meek harlot who did not get peace of conscience before John's head was cut off. Why was the heart not roasted? I have heard one meek whore mentioned who did not get peace of conscience before she got the parent's heart to roast upon coals. Honest thieves have also seen how some known thieves have had to return the stolen goods for the reason that one great sorcerer has placed or raised earthlings upon them. But honest thieves do not yet believe that the earthlings will be raised upon them after death unless here there comes a haste to return the stolen goods. Now truly all sorrowless and thieves of grace have seen how whores and thieves, as also drunkards and liquor merchants, have made penitence and repentance, but they do not yet believe that this baptism of John is from God. No doubt they want to see signs from heaven before they believe. Only then might they believe, if they would see fire and brimstone raining from heaven.
But nevertheless our belief is this, that although meek whores ask for John's head upon a charger,nevertheless John must receive joy even in prison from that, that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised up by the power of Jesus; and John can, even in prison, rejoice that his troubles have not gone in vain, when sinners come unto Jesus and become healed by His mercy. So go now, blind wretches, to the eye doctor and buy eye salve. And you lame who have halted on both sides until this day, go unto Jesus that He would heal your legs. You lepers, if you wish to become cleansed, then go now to the Great Healer, that you would become cleansed. And you dead wretches who have died so young and yet lie in the snare of dead faith, do you wish to hear the Lord's voice before the worms eat you? Rise up from your graves before a rock if placed at the door of the grave and covered with earth. Hear, merciful Lord Jesus, the voice of the blind, lame, and lepers when they cry unto Thee. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Matthew 11: 2
We hear from our Holy Gospel that John the Baptist was in prison, into which he had been cast because of that meek harlot who did not get peace, of conscience before John's head was cut off. In that prison he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" This question is now hoard thus: "Is this Christianity right, or must we wait for another?" Many a sorrowless one has already, for a long time, wanted to destroy this Christianity, that it is not right. Jews do not want to confess this Christianity to be right. Liquor merchants have become terribly angry at this Christianity when their goods are not acceptable any longer. Merchants do not like this Christianity at all, for they complain very much that God's grain is called "devil's dung". Meek whores have become so very angry at this Christianity that they want to behead that man who they believe is the cause of this kind of wildness, for meek whores are now barked at in every place; they cannot lie in the bed of adultery in peace any more. Honest thieves also complain that this Christianity is not right when a haste to return stolen goods has come to some thieves. No doubt some sorcerer has raised up earthlings upon them, that they must bring the stolen goods back. But especially grace thieves, or Pharisees of this time, and also scribes, or lords of this world, have become angry at this Christianity, for grace thieves do not want to return stolen goods which they have stolen from God. When they say, "We have one father, even God", then Christians say,"Ye are of your father the devil"; and then the seeds of the serpent squirm at the bottom of the heart when they are not accepted as Christians. Pharisees see many faults in the lives of the Christians and therefore they cannot believe that this Christianity is right. The scribes or world's lords complain that Christians do not bow themselves before them, and condemn those also to hell who are supposedly learned and respectable men. The high priests do not hold this Christianity to be right because Christians bark even at them, and demand repentance. When now such men and women, as meek whores, honest thieves, sober drunkards and honorable liquor merchants, do not hold this Christianity to be right, and even then the world's lords and high priests say that this Christianity is one wildness of the devil's spirit, then finally John, who had first begun to bark at people, must begin to halfway doubt if this Christianity is right. He does not, however, doubt for himself, but for the sake of some of his disciples who cannot believe that this Christianity is right. These disciples of John have awakened to fhat extent from John's law sermons that a sorrow has come over the salvation of the soul, but they have not begun to follow the bloody footsteps of Jesus, nor have they come into the light of the gospel, nor into reconciliation with God. And when selfrighteousness has begun to rule them, they attempt to become saved with their own repentance and with the righteousness of the law. And finally they begin to doubt if this Christianity is right, when they themselves have not attained the light of the gospel. Because of them, John had to send those doubting ones to Jesus, that they could hear from His own mouth if He was the one who was to come, that is: is this Christianity right or must we wait for a better one? Jesus now commanded those doubting disciples of John to say again salutations to John of what they had seen and heard of the powerful works of Jesus. And now it is apparent to all that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised up, and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me, says Jesus, the Blessed One. I think that most assuredly the disciples of John see all of these miracles taking place, that the spiritually blind have received their sight, and the spiritually lame have begun to walk on the road of life, and the spiritual lepers also become cleansed when they come unto Jesus. So also the spiritually dead are raised up and receive life through the word of Jesus. But the world is offended, however, from the poor form of Jesus, and imagine that He is a Samaritan and that He has a devil. For although they see that a change of life has taken place, and that the common people have begun to follow Jesus, although they see that the gospel is preached to the poor, the poor receive help in behalf of both body and soul, the children of the poor receive teaching and food, so the slaves of the world do not like that at all, for the slaves of the world and the devil say: "He has stripped the congregation naked." Who else has stripped the congregation naked than the devil through his slaves and hired men? The devil has stripped the country naked through the liquor merchants and through the swindlers. Who else has stripped the country than the devil of drunkenness and the devil of adultery, the devil of finery and the devil of pride? Judas began now to have pity on the troubled and to have sorrow over the poor; only that Judas would not preach into his own purse when he begins to ask, "Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor." Behold, thus preaches Judas when he sees one sorrowful and penitent soul breaking the precious box and pouring the precious spikenard ointment. How is it now, Mary Magdalene? When you, in the simplicity of your heart, want to pour precious spikenard ointment upon the head of Jesus, then Judas comes to persecute your conscience with that reproach, that you have done wrong when you poured the precious spikenard ointment upon the head of Jesus. Judas reproaches you now, Mary Magdalene, that you have wasted the share of the poor when you have poured the precious spikenard ointment upon the head of Jesus. But never mind, you sorrowful woman; pour out the love of your heart toward Jesus; break the box in which you have kept in store the precious spikenard ointment; it has been poured for the burial of Jesus and it may be the last time when you are pouring this precious spikenard ointment upon the head of Jesus when He is yet living, for already the high priests, scribes and also the Pharisees and elders of the people have gathered themselves against Jesus, and against this Christianity, to destroy Him. Therefore, faithful soul, anoint the head of Jesus with precious spikenard ointment before Jesus dies. Soon, soon you can sit upon His grave and shed tears of sorrow and longing. Do you not see that He is already dying in the hearts of the Christians? Soon only a memory of that thorn crowned King will remain in the minds of the Christians, and then the disciples will begin to say, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." We formerly had the faith that this Christianity is right, but now we have been left as orphans and without faith. Many have already begun to lament that there is no faith, and they, too, who have believed before, complain that there is no faith. How do they have faith whose Saviour has died, whose Redeemer is in the grave? They in whose heart the Saviour has died are no longer able to believe. And if there would still be the right sorrow, if they vould weep upon the grave of Jesus, then it is possible that the Crucified One would yet become alive. But because they lament that there is no faith, and there is no sorrow nor longing, how then can He revive any more? But nevertheless this Christianity is surely right, although the slaves of the world say, "It is not right because the priests, scribes, and elders of the people do not consider it to be right." So John tells in the gospel how the world's lords spoke among themselves when they considered this Christianity which has come into the world with Jesus of Nazareth. The world's lords surmise thus: "He has a devil, and He is out of His mind; why do you listen to Him?" But others say thus: "These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" John 10:21
Again John tells, in a different place, what the world's lords surmise about the Author of this Christianity; they say thus, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed." John 7: 48-49
And now you hear what the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and world's lords think about this Christianity which has come into the world through Jesus. They think that it is not right because the chief priests have not believed in it. But this people who do not know the law are accursed. Now do you believe that this . Christianity is right when it has truly happened just as Apostle John has written? For so they preach who do not believe this Christianity to be right, that this people is accursed who do not know the law. From where will the people know what law the lords and the chief priests have when they can so twist the law that one word of the Scripture becomes ridicule when it comes out through the mouth of a Christian? But if the devil's apostles pervert the words of Scripture with a wrong mind, then the Word of God is right. Thus the devil explains the Bible, that it becomes permissible to jump from the roof of the church down to the ground. And do you know what Christianity is right in the world's opinion? Yes, such a Christianity as is now practised in the world, namely in adultery, drunkenness, cursing and fighting behind the church; that is the world's Christianity. They sing hymns in church and adulterous songs behind the church. They sit meekly in church and fight behind the church. They are meek in church and whore behind the church. They drink from the Lord's cup in church and from the devil's cup they drink behind the church. Such now is the world's Christianity. And such a Christianity the world's lords now consider to be right, and the chief priests highly praise that Christianity which is now practiced in the world. They say to the whores, "dear Christians", and to the liquor merchants, "dear friends of Jesus, surely you will become saved if you live as virtuously as you have lived up to this time." To me, it would be better if the priests would preach to the liquor merchants, "Dear friends of the devil! Drink and fight well, then you will become saved in hell." But now I will end my speech for this time. May God and the Great Cross Bearer, who has sweated and shed His blood in behalf of all, strengthen with His grace those few souls who believe this Christianity to be right and who are endeavoring after this, that they would win the crown of life.
The disciples of John must nevertheless become disciples of Jesus when John's head is cut off because of that meek harlot.
And now, you blind, lame, and leprous ones who have become healed, not through mine, but through the words of Jesus, remember what kind you have been and pray that you will not again become blind, lame, and leprous, that the last would not become worse than the first. Amen!