Easter Sunday 1854.
"Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump. Therefore let us keep, the feast, not with old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Cor. 5: 6-8.
St. Paul takes in this place a parable of dough, which the children of Isreal carried with them when they were in a great haste to leave the bondage in Egypt, that they could not begin to make bread from dough. They had to carry new dough with them and to eat unleavened bread. They could not begin then to make the dough to work or leaven when the enemies were attacking them, but they had to start out on their journey at night, carrying new and unleavened bread substance with them. Of that unleavened dough, Saint Paul now took a parable and writes to the Christians (1 Cor. 5th Chapter) "Know ye not that a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump?" In how many congregations is the Passover festival still kept in the old leaven? In how many places is the old leaven still left unpurged? Also here, all people have kept the Passover festival in the old leaven and even now all those in heathenism eat spiritual bread which is leavened and has become sour. Although the Lamb of the Passover is sacrificed, although the Lamb of God is now slain and all who have been baptised in Christ should now purge out that old leaven which flows out of the trough, and to keep the Passover festival, not with old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; all the same many love that old leaven which they have been accustomed to eat since their childhood. But all, who are of the lineage of Israel, arise up at night to purge out that old leaven and to prepare the unleavened bread substance, when they must flee from that heathen land. But many want to carry the old leaven with them, and from that little leaven the whole lump becomes sour. To them Paul says in his first missionary letter to the Corinthians; purge out that old leaven, that ye may be a new lump. We well surmise, that sin is that old leaven, which spoils the whole lump. If sin is allowed the rule, so the whole Christianity changes to hypocrisy and dead faith. Christianity is such a substance which is compared to a dough, but sin and old Adam are compared to leaven, especially mixed companionship and wrong order which contains within the substance of egotism, it is injurious to spoil the substance of Christianity. Now Paul says that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. If egotism and love of the world gets to rule, then the whole Christianity is spoiled. Therefore Paul counsels the Christians to purge out the old leaven that ye may be a new lump. Regrettably that old leaven wants to spoil the whole lump, if the trough where the old leaven has been is not well washed and cleansed. Many makers of bread are lazy and slovenly they do not take heed, how clean the trough is when they put into it new and unleavened food substance. In their mind it is a great trouble to purge out the old leaven. Therefore they put the new and unleavened food substance into the old trough, from which the old leaven has not yet been scraped, and although they want to avoid that old leaven, the whole lump is nevertheless spoiled since the trough is not scraped and cleansed, before the new dough is mixed. It is the substance of old adam which spoils the Christianity of many, when egotism rises against the Christians, and also a secret aversion, therefore from that comes discord and a different order of grace, a different faith although there should be no more than one road to heaven. From whence does discord come? Yes, the old leaven has fastened to the trough, although Paul says, "purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump." But the lazy one does not care to scrape that old leaven and cleanse the trough. A lazy and slovenly old woman puts flour into the trough although the old leaven has fastened and dried up on it. When, therefore, the new dough is mixed in, the old leaven comes and spoils the whole lump and the bread substance becomes sour and that bread, which is made of such substance, becomes sour. But such bread is not suitable for communion bread, and such sour bread the heathens eat on their Passover festival. But the true children of Israel prepare for the Passover festival, unleavened bread, which has not soured. And for that reason Saint Paul counsels the Corinthians to purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump.
How formerly the new lump was mixed in the old leaven, is known to all, but now it is necessary that the old leaven is purged out of the trough before the new lump is mixed. Formerly the bread makers were lazy and slovenly. The new dough is mixed in the old leaven. And this old leaven has spilled over and that which has spilled over, that the slovenly bread makers have again scraped up and put back together with the dung into the trough. That bread which is baked of such leaven has not been suitable for dogs or swine for food; but certainly the baptized heathens have not complained of this old leaven, certainly the old leaven has been suitable to them for Passover bread no matter how sour and leavened it would be. And even now the old leaven is suitable for Passover bread to one who has not been accustomed to eating unleavened bread. One slovenly person first digs the devil's dung with his fingernails and then with the same fingers with which he has dug the devil's dung, mixes the bread substance in the old leaven. And when this old leaven begins to work and spill over, with his black nails he scrapes the new dough into the trough together with the dung. And from that old leaven he makes black, sour loaves for Passover bread. Do the people still eat of the old leaven? Is that sour bread still suitable for them which the black bread maker has baked in the stove of the abyss? It appears that the old leaven is still satisfactory to those who keep devil's dung as a delicacy; to them the old and sour leaven is acceptable for Passover bread. But those few souls who are of the lineage of Israel and have started to flee quickly from bondage in Egypt, carry new bread substance with them in the wilderness, leave the old leaven in Egypt, and eat unleavened bread on the way, along with the Lamb of the Passover, which is sacrificed for them, whose bones should not be broken. You few chosen ones from the lineage of Israel, who dry shod reach the other side of the Red Sea, and through great danger travel in the wilderness, carrying new and unleavened dough until that time that manna begins to rain from heaven, purge out the old leave, from your hearts; leave the devil's dung for the Egyptians, who drink it gladly, leave that sour leaven for Passover bread for the heathens, which they gladly eat, and eat unleavened bread, that ye may be a new lump. And keep the feast of the Passover not with old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We hope, that the chosen of Israel will finally reach the land of Canaan, although through great pain and tribulation when all the heathens drown in the waves of the Red Sea. Purge, therefore, that old leaven, you few souls, who have gone out from bondage in Egypt, and eat unleavened bread until that time when manna rains from heaven. Do not murmur against Moses, you weary travelers, for he has to lead you by way of Mt. Sinai according to the Lord's command. You must travel in the wilderness because of your impatience and all the Egyptian fleshpots must be left. You must weep and lament but the world rejoices: And this weeping and lamenting of the disciples comes from that sorrow which is after the mind of God, when they long for Jesus' merciful presence. When the sorrowful disciples of Jesus see, how their Saviour is tormented and distressed by the world, they must weep and lament but their sorrow will be changed to joy when they can see Him again. Who knows, perhaps today, this evening Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to His sorrowful disciples. Who knows, perhaps today, they will see the Lord.
When we now through God's grace keep the Passover festival, some in the old leaven, some in the unleavened dough of truth and Christianity, then the intention is to consider, How Jesus' sorrowful disciples, who with tears of penitance and longing wet the bread of the Passover, give the Saviour honey cake, when He reveals Himself to them. May God and that Great Crossbearer, who today has arisen from the dead, that all sorrowful disciples, who because of fear of the Jews have sat behind the closed doors, can today first hear and finally with their own eyes see, that crucified and thorn-crowned King is still alive. Therefore, hear gracious Lord Jesus, the sighs of the sorrowful and weeping disciples, and come soon to them before the sun sets. Our Father etc,
The Gospel Mark 16:1
We hear from our Holy Gospel which was read that those women who went to the sepulchre early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus, heard from the mouth of the angel that the Saviour had arisen from the dead. And from the other Evangelist's relatings we hear, that Mary Magdalene was the one who saw the Saviour first arisen, but Thomas last. Accordingly we must through God's grace consider, How the disciples can see the Saviour arisen, but not all at the same time.
The first consideration: for what reason are the children of the world not able to see Jesus after His resurrection. For that reason the children of the world cannot see Jesus after His resurrection because they crucified Him, and yet gladly would have allowed that Jesus would have died eternally. The children of the world fear that the disciples will come at night and steal Jesus' body and say afterward to the people, that He arose, therefore they ask the governor for soldiers to guard and keep the sepulchre so that the Savior would not get to arise. They fear namely that the last madness will be worse than the first if the people would begin to believe that the Savior had arisen. When namely the lords and high priests have that belief that the doctrine of Jesus is one madness, that it is one wonderful superstition or wild disease, by which people become insane, then it can be surmised, that the lords of the world and high priests ask from the governor for soldiers to protect the grave, so that Jesus' doctrine would not be able to spread if the people would begin to believe that He has arisen. Certainly the lords of the world do not believe that, that Jesus has arisen, but they fear, that the disciples will come at night to steal Jesus' body, and then afterword say that He has arisen. The lords of the world only fear that the later madness will be worse than the first if the common people would begin to believe that the Saviour has arisen. First the devil has reversed their eyes because of that spiritual hatred which they carry in their hearts toward Jesus, that they behold Jesus as an agitator of the people and a false prophet, who counsels people on the wrong road; Second the enemy has given them such a faith, that the doctrine of Jesus is one madness, which will become even worse if people would begin to believe that He has arisen. The lords of the world and high priests have so first crucified Jesus; and secondly they try to prevent that His doctrine, which they keep as madness, would begin spreading and that they think they can win through the natural government. When they fear that Christianity, which they keep to be madness, would get to spread through the disciples, they ask the governor for soldiers to guard the grave or to detain Jesus' body, so that He would not be able to arise. How can the Saviour reveal Himself to them, who hate Him and His doctrine, hate Christianity, also hate His disciples and the Christians? The sorrowless and hardened people of the world do not want to see Jesus. And if He would reveal Himself to them, they would unitedly attack Him and would kill Him again.
But Joseph and Nicodemus, did they get to see Jesus after His resurrection? It is not written in any place, that these men would have seen Him, although these men were Jesus' disciples, nevertheless secretly because of the fear of the Jews; And although they showed love toward the Saviour, when they prepared and buried His body into the grave, He nevertheless did not reveal Himself to them, for these men had only natural meekness for the foundation of salvation. How does it happen that the Saviour does not reveal Himself to those meek and pious men who had also with their own means prepared and buried His body in the grave? These men had done a good deed to Jesus and the natural intellect beholds it to be reasonable that He should have thanked them for that good service, and say, "Many thanks for that good work!" But it is not written anywhere that the Saviour would have thanked them for that good work. We surmise now why did Jesus not reveal Himself to Joseph and Nicodemus. First they were naturally meek people, but this natural meekness was also their foundation of salvation they did not have such a confidence in the Saviour as the disciples. These men believed only that the Saviour was a great teacher, or a teacher sent by God, as Nicodemus himself confessed, when he came to Jesus by night, but these men did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. Second, they were Jesus' disciples, nevertheless secretly because of the fear of the Jews, worldly honor was more dear to these men than the Saviour, if they would have confessed openly that they were Jesus' disciples, they would have become blasphemed and hated by the lords of the world. These men thought as many even now say, "Let each take care of himself, there is no need to cry out to the world," But the Saviour Will probably not acknowledge such ones as true disciples, who because of worldly honor keep their Christianity secret and do not dare to confess before the world that they are disciples of Jesus, although otherwise they would be naturally meek and pious, although they otherwise do good to Jesus and His disciples, nevertheless they do not come into the company of the Christians and their names are not found in the book of life. These men, Joseph and Nicodemus were therefore naturally meek and pious men, were also Jesus' disciples, nevertheless secretly because of the fear of the Jews, they also showed their love toward Jesus when they with their own means prepared and buried Jesus' body in the grave; but the honor of the world prevented them from openly confessing their Christianity, and therefore they were without a Saviour. Jesus did not reveal Himself to them, nor can the Christians acknowledge Joseph end Nicodemus to be Christians. And since even now such people are found, who because of honor of the world want to keep secret their thoughts about Christianity, who say, "it is not necessary to cry out to the world and let each take care of himself," so I think that Joseph and Nicodemus are still living now who are naturally meek and pious; who are still supposedly Jesus' disciples, but because of the honor of the world do not care to reveal their Christianity, not to the Christians who do not take secret Christians into their company, or also to the world who cannot stand such who openly go on the Christian's side. But I fear, that Joseph and Nicodemus can never see Jesus after His resurrection, for their names are not mentioned in the numbers of Christians. Why did the Saviour not come to thank them for that good work which they had done toward Him? The natural reason looks at this as impossible that Joseph and Nicodemus should be in hell; but where are they then, when in this time of grace they have not become Christians? And for what reason are they excluded from the numbers of the Christians although they were pious men and secret disciples of Jesus? Because worldly honor was more dear to them than the Saviour. Naturally meek people do not want to miss out on their honor because of Jesus. They want to go to heaven with their honor. They do not want to become so foolish as the disciples who cried and lamented longing for Jesus' merciful presence.
The second consideration: Who first saw the Saviour? Mary Magdalene, What good had she done to the Saviour? Nothing. Why did the Saviour reveal Himself to Mary first? No doubt for that reason that Mary had the greatest sorrow and greatest distress after the Saviour. Why did Mary Magdalene see Jesus first, who had done nothing good to Him, but Joseph and Nicodemus had done so much good toward Him, and did not receive anything for their trouble? Should the Saviour not thank those, who do good to Him? Joseph and Nicodemus had done such good work toward Jesus which not many people would have done. How many people would now have taken such trouble upon themselves, which these men took upon themselves? With their own means these men put Jesus into the grave. With their own money they bought linen and myrrh, almost a hundred pounds. That burial came to cost them quite a large sum, and even for that reason the Saviour did not come to them to thank them for that good work. But Mary Magdalene, who had done nothing good to the Saviour, received that great grace to experience that she saw first that crucified Saviour. From that can be surmises, that the Saviour does not care for man's good works but the tears of penitance and longing repay more in the Saviour's eyes, than many good works, which one naturally meek person does. We cannot say, that Mary's tears merited this great grace, but the merciful heart of Jesus could not, was not able, could not endure to hide Himself any longer; One sorrowful heart effects so much that the Saviour must reveal Himself. Behold you sorrowful soul, where the road goes to heaven. It goes through the valley of sorrow, through the strait gate; with tears and sighs you must open the door of heaven.
The third consideration: Who sees Jesus resurrected last? Unbelieving Thomas, who does not believe what the other disciples testify. All of the other disciples had already seen the Lord, but Thomas had remained without seeing, when because of his unbelief, he did not want to believe at all the testimony of the other disciples. Even so that great grace happened to him that the Saviour showed him His wounds. Here you see, you doubting soul, that the Saviour reveals Himself, not only to the sorrowful, penitent and oppressed, but also to the doubting: Although unbelief is a great sin, which often troubles the penitent, and effects that they doubt of God's grace. But dead faith is even worse, through that Peter and also the other disciples became deceived, for dead faith is sometimes supposedly so strong, that death itself cannot break it. To those who lie in unbelief and doubts, the Saviour is so merciful, that He shows His wounds to them, and they must finally believe but the confessors of dead faith, who without penitence and without repentance own for themselves God's promises of grace, to them the devil is merciful. Surely the devil saves and pardons those, who live in dead faith, they never doubt of their salvation, but those he torments and oppresses with doubts, who because of the Saviour's suffering and death, cry and lament. Those sorrowful and penitent souls, the enemy causes them to doubt, that the Saviour is not even alive. To those sorrowful disciples the enemy has become angry, The enemy can not stand it at all, that the sorrowful disciples of Jesus cry and lament longing for Jesus' merciful presence. But to the murderers of Jesus the devil is merciful. To them he promises a good reward in hell, who suck the blood of Christians. To those enemies of the cross of Jesus the god of the world gives devil's dung and old leaven as Passover bread. But these friends of the world cannot see Jesus, nor can the naturally meek people, Joseph and Nicodemus, but only those few souls, who cry and lament longing for Jesus' merciful presence, Mary Magdalene first and Thomas last, who because of doubt could not believe the testimonies of the other disciples. This wretch is "still in unbelief and doubts, he is still not able to believe, that Jesus is resurrected, but has sorrow surely and a great longing after Jesus. If self righteousness was not so great in him, if he would understand, how much he troubles the crucified one with his unbelief, then certainly he too would believe that the Lord is truely resurrected, and also to him would come joy of Jesus' resurrection. But we have such a hope, that Jesus' glory will be shown to Thomas, and that he will finally have to believe. Merciful Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to your sorrowful disciples, before the sun sets, show them your wounds, that they would believe that you are that crucified and thorn-crowned King! Breathe upon them that they would recieve the Holy Spirit! Open their understanding to understand the Scriptures! And you sorrowful disciples if Jesus asks for food of you, give Him a little honey cake, you probably have no other food on Easter Sunday than a little honey cake, which is unleavened and made of pure substance. Be assured of that, that the Lord Jesus, who today has revealed Himself to you, and asked you for food, will give you heavenly honey cake, when you can step up into heaven with Him and be with Him eternally. Amen.