On Good Friday 1852
"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Psalms 69:21
Christ complains through the mouth of David, that the world gives Him bitter drink, namely gall and vinegar, and the gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have written that the soldiers have offered the vinegar and gall mixture to the Crucified One; it is such a sour and bitter drink, which He is not able to drink. It is not written whether it was gall of a bear, or fish gall, or beef gall; but gall, whether it be gall of humans or animals is always bitter. Nor is it heard, that such a drink is offered to other people, but to Christ the world's soldiers have offered vinegar mixed with gall; that is the world's hatred, which has come from the dragon's gall; because in the gall lives the devil of hatred, and someone becomes so angry, that he vomits green gall. From the dragon's gall drips also spiritual hatred which has come out from the seed of the dragon, because the seed of the serpent hates the seed of the woman, and yet now spiritual hatred drips from the dragon's gall, which reveals itself in the world toward Christ and His disciples. But He will not drink that sour drink, which the world and the soldiers of the devil offer to Him.
Even now the soldiers of the devil offer Christians vinegar mixed with gall, and that spiritual hatred, which always has been in the world toward Christians, doubtlessly it has dripped from the gall of the dragon. Certainly the dragon and his seed have a great gall: therefore some people become so angry at Christians because of the dragon's seed, that they vomit green gall upon them: and this gall is that spiritual hatred, which the seed of the serpent vomit upon the Christians. But as Christ was not able to drink that sour drink that was mixed with gall, so the Christians also are not able to willingly drink that spiritual hatred, which the world and the soldiers of the devil offer, but they must nevertheless taste of that sour drink, which is mixed with gall.
In the book of Tobias it is written, that the angel commanded the younger Tobias to take fish gall and anoint the eyes of his blind father, and so he also did: and when he had anointed the blind wretch's eyes with gall, it smarted at first, but a little while afterward the bilnd wretch's eyes opened; in this way fish gall is suitable for eye ointment to those, who have become blind for that reason, that the swallows have dunged in their eyes. And I have seen that the eyes of many blind wretches have opened through that ointment that has come from their own gall, so that many have come to notice their own corruption, and from that hatred, that has dripped from the gall of the dragon, from that many have come to notice what a poor condition he is in. And many a blind wretch has from that same gall received eye ointment and enlightment, that he has gotten to see what a poor condition he is in. If gall would not have been like an eye ointment, many a blind wretch would certainly even now be sitting in blindness, nor would he know, that he is under the rule of the devil. In this way gall is certainly an eye ointment to many, especially to such ones, who have become blind for that reason, that the swallows have dunged in their eyes, when they have laid down and begun to sleep directly under the swallows’ nest. But gall is not suitable as drink, nor can there be even one, who willingly drinks the vinegar and gall mixture, although the soldiers offer such a sour drink to Christ and to his disciples: for it is written: that He did not wish to drink.
I know that close to Jesus's cross are yet many soldiers who offer Him vinegar mixed with gall; but near Jesus's cross also stand a few sorrowful disciples who look with pity upon Him; there stand also a few sorrowful women, who weep and lament, beholding His suffering, but the wretches are not able to help Him, nor do they dare to say much in the midst of such a crowd, who blaspheme and shame the Crucified One. There is only one man, who has opened his mouth to speak of the innocence of Jesus, and that man is himself crucified. It is one penitent robber, who first began to rebuke the other because of his blasphemy, although the children of the world see that to be wrong, that one sinner rebukes another, and even such kind of sinner, who has not yet become a Christian. But so it has happened then, that one robber rebuked the other, and received through that rebuking such boldness to speak of the Savior's innocence and righteousness, that finally he boldly entreated that crucified and thorn-crowned King, that He would help him from the darkness of eternal death. Because the penitent robber first rebuked the other, who blasphemed the Crucified One with his prayer, afterward he spoke of the Savior's righteousness and finally prayed to Jesus, saying: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!" But the sorrowless see that as wrong, that one robber rebukes the other. If namely one impenitent robber blasphemes the Crucified One with his prayer, and one penitent robber rebukes him, saying: "Dost not thou fear God seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" Then present-day robbers say to the penitent: "Shut your mouth, you are not any better than I am, you have not yet become a Christian yourself; how can you rebuke me, who are yet a worse whore and a thief than I am." Such answers the present-day robbers give to the penitent ones, and in these answers the devil's gall is dripping. But they war so much in behalf of God, that their countenances change like with Cain, and the black blood of selfrighteousness rises to the head; but they do not feel that they are yet more cruel, than the impenitent robber, who received the rebuke of the other in quietness; but he has not been so hardened as the present-day robbers, who cannot suffer the truth to be spoken, but lies they certainly hear willingly.
Today we must behold how the blood drips from the Savior's wounds, how He cries in great distress: "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" If there would be some sorrowful disciple who would get to behold this sadness with a sorrowful heart, that the heart would become broken and shattered from Christ's suffering; if there would be some sorrowful Mary Magdalene, who now stands close to the cross, with a broken heart, beholding that crucified and thorn-crowned King, bleeding and sitting in the blood bath because of sinners, so they from that would get to receive greater sorrow and diligence to strive, to hasten, and to crawl to the foot of the cross, that some drop of that precious reconciling blood would drip upon their conscience and heart, for cleansing and for eternal salvation, that not all of the Parent's blood would flow to waste upon this sinful earth. Hear, Thou great Crossbearer, and thorn-crowned King, the sighs of the sorrowful disciples. Our Father, and so forth.
Gospel: Luke 23:32
By the cross of Jesus stand: First: Soldiers who crucify Him according to the paganish judge. Second: That crowd of passers-by, who mock Him along with those of the high priest. Third: A few sorrowful disciples and women, who have believed on Him.
Let us behold by the guidance of these words: For what reason and with what conscience have these various groups come to the hill of Golgotha to behold that crucified and throrn-crowned King.
First: For what reason have the soldiers come there?
Second: For what reason have the sorrowless crowd come there?
Third: With what conscience have the disciples and women come there? If only the crucified Lord Jesus would shout by so high loud that the Centurion and all blasphemers would strike their breasts and go home with sorrow and fear.
First: For what reason have the soldiers come to the hill of Golgotha? They have come to crucify Jesus, These soldiers are the servants of the lords of the world. One great worldly lord has, according to the request of the Jews, condemned Jesus to death. This worldly lord has gotten that authority over Jesus, that he condemned Him to death. But from where has Pilate gotten such authority over the Savior? Jesus said to Pilate:"Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." From these words of the Savior we hear, as if God would have given the paganish judge that power, that he is able to judge; but who knows who or what god has commanded the pagan to condemn an innocent man to death contrary to his conscience. Very truly God has allowed this, that Pilate was able to kill the body; both the body of the Son of God and of the Christians, through worldly judges, the devil gets to kill; but God has not commanded one paganish judge to condemn one innocent man to death contrary to his conscience, but God has said to the judge: Judge right judgement for the Lord! In this the enemy caused greater danger to himself, when he effected so much in the mind of Pilate, that he because of worldly honor condemned an innocent man to death contrary to his conscience. The enemy thought through this to do great damage to God, but he caused himself great trouble. The world's lords say that they have power to crucify and they have power to release, but they would not have any power, if it would not be given from above. And that power which they have been given from above, that the world's lords use wrongly, and receive from it the greater condemnation.
But the soldiers are the servants of the world's lords, they come to crucify Jesus: and their hands are bloody. The blood of Jesus has sprinkled upon them; but it will burn their consciences eternally; because they have caused the Parent's blood to flow according to the command of the devil, and witnesses have to swear to that great justice that on their hands is seen the Parent's blood, and they are not able to wash themselves clean of that blood, although they would raise water from the well of the abyss. The soldiers have also trampled the blood of Jesus under foot and have left bloody footprints behind, these bloody footprints follow them to hell; Let us see, who will wash their feet clean in hell?
Second: For what reason has the sorrowless crowd come to Golgotha? The evangelists remind that the passers-by would mock the Crucified One, they wagged their heads and Said: "woe to you, loftily you destroy God's temple, and on the third day thereafter build it"; These disciples of the devil had wrongly twisted the words of Jesus, as they yet now snap up some word from a Christian's mouth and twist it wrongly, so they had then also snapped up some word from the Savior's mouth, which they would ride upon; and now the devil's angels received joy, when in their minds they got the Savior to be a liar: it was like sugar would be placed in their liver and spleen. But certainly yet this lie must burn both liver and spleen, when the angels of the devil get to see who they have mocked and whose words they have twisted with a wrong mind. It is not surprising, that the rough crowd comes to mock the Crucified One, when they didn't have a spoonful of sense in their minds; but when even the chief priests, scribes, and elders come to mock the Crucified One, that is surprising. Peter preached to that rough crowd that had cried, "Crucify!" "I wot that through ignorance ye did it"; but the high priests, scribes, and elders, who should have had a better mind and a better understanding, they have not done that in ignorance, but from plain meanness; now they get to vomit out gall and dragon's poison upon that man, whom they already earlier bit with their teeth and poked with their sly tongue. And were the chief priests, scribes, and elders better than the blind and crude paganish nation, who mocked the Crucified One? They who contrary to their understanding fetched light from hell, with which to see to make sausage of Christians blood. The rough paganish nation, that is as stupid as a newly born calf, that has just fallen into the gutter; what do such people know of the ways of the world or of the wisdom of the world? But the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people, look, they understand how and in what way they can get the Son of God to be a blasphemer of God. The same men understand how they can get Stephan to be a lawbreaker. And evens now they understand best how they can get the effect of God's spirit to be the effect of the devil's spirit. What does the rough pagan nation understand otherwise than to scream and cry: Crucify! Although in broadcloth suit and silk skirt, one crude peasant nevertheless does not understand anything else than to war in behalf of the devil with fist and knife, or axe and log, against the Christians, and such ones the Christians can possibly avoid; but the chief priests, scribes, and elders, who are like the best men in the congregation, these the Christians must not avoid, who would want to live afterward with a clean conscience. Because they have such legal hooks, with which they twist and distort the natural law, that a Christian must become a lawbreaker, no matter how innocent he would be. And after that, when they have first gotten Christ judged by the power of the law, then they come right away to blaspheme the Crucified One and say: "if he is king of Israel, then step down from the cross, and we will believe upon him". Certainly the devil has schooled his priests how they must blaspheme the Son of God. And this blasphemy David has revealed in the 69th Psalm, 20th verse: "Reproach hath broken my heart and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." Who would there now be, who could pity the Crucified One, or would dare to speak one word in behalf of that innocent man, when His own disciples are mute, and Nicodemus is mute, who nevertheless knows the natural law as well as other lords of the world: what does he care of Jesus when His life is in danger? Nicodemus does not want to offend the minds of the world's lords. There can be no other, who dares to speak of the innocence of the Savior than one penitent robber, who himself is crucified; but what does his word affect in the midst of such a crowd?
Do you have the desire to blaspheme the Christians, thou Shimeis, sons of Gera? Do you now have the desire to lap Christian blood, you meek whores and you sober drunkards? Give to your dying Parent the vinegar and gall mixture that you would get proper joy, when the dying Parent cries out in pain: "Eli, Eli! lama sabachthani!" Certainly mockers yet will get to mock the dying Parent before He dies. And this is certainly joy to the angels of the devil, who hear even in hell, that they are able to cry; "Let be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him".
Third: For what reason have the disciples of Jesus come to the hill of Golgotha? Have they that belief, that the crucified and thorn-crown-ed King can help them in their sorrow and in their doubt? You have come with a sorrowful heart to Golgotha's hill. Do you now have that belief that He can help you from the hands of your enemies; namely from sin, from death, from hell, and from under the rule of the devil. And thou sorrowful Mary Magdalene! Are you able to believe, that you must yet see the Crucified One alive? Are you able to believe that you must take Him around the knees, that you must yet give His feet a kiss and wet His feet with tears of love? And thou Peter, who formerly had such a strong faith, that you intended to go to death with Him. How is it now with your faith Peter? When you watch as the whole world would reject and give your Savior up to death, and you even have heard Him cry: "My God! Why hast thou forsaken me!" Do you believe any more that He would be seen alive? So it appears from your behavior like your faith would be lacking. You sorrowful disciples, it appears like your hope has become lost. You have begun to follow Jesus, you have left the vain worldly course in that hope, that with the help of that great and powerful Son of God you would get to sit in the kingdom of heaven and judge the twelve tribes of Israel; but now all your hope for the kingdom of the Messiah has become lost. Nor can others have that belief, except the penitent robber, that this thorn-crowned and world-hated Jesus of Nazareth can help them from hell. But this can be needful to all of you, that you go for some time in sorrow and grief; that you would feel, what a great distress it is, to be without the Savior. Isn't that also a great distress, to be so far from the Savior, namely in the world? Isn't your Savior already in another world? How do you feel you sorrowful disciples who today have come to behold His wounds? How does it feel, John, who formerly leaned your head on Jesus's breast at the Lord's supper? Is your Savior already dead? And thou sorrowful Mary Magdalene, who formerly anointed His head with the expensive ointment, is your Savior now dead? Have you already prepared the sweet-smelling herbs to anoint Him? Or have you first kept the Sabbath rest? I see, that the disciples are certainly sorrowful, but their Savior is like in another world, and therefore they are doubting and like behind locked doors. The Parent is in the grave, and the children have soon forgotten the first love; the Parent has left great possessions, but the children do not agree about the inheritance. It would be best if you would go first to cry upon the grave of the Parent, until then, when the dawn begins to glow; who knows what the tears of Mary Magdalene affect? If they do not awaken Him, then no other kind of tears affect anything. But we hope, that an angel will come from heaven, and move the stone away from the door of the grave, and Mary Magdalene must cry so long, that she is able to take Him around the knees and give His feet a kiss; then must tears of joy and rejoicing flow from your eyes and you must say: "Rabboni, my Lord!" Amen,