Second Easter Day Sermon A

 

And Philip said to one Gentile who was reading the Scriptures, "Understandest thou, what thou readest?" And he said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30,31

 

One Jew or Gentile, the eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia, had come to Jerusalem in the time of the Apostles, and there he had bought himself a Bible; he had also heard something spoken of Christianity, as it is believable that at that time much was surmised about the Christian doctrine, which the slaves of the world kept to be false, and only those few souls, who themselves had experienced the power of faith, kept it to be right.  So the eunuch of the queen had bought for himself a Bible, and he sat in his chariot and read the Bible, not with that intention to find justification for sin, nor did he read the Bible with that intention that he could overthrow the Christianity, as some do at this time; they read the Bible and other books with that mind that they would be able to overthrow the Christianity and oppose the Christians.  For the devil also reads the Bible with that mind that he could twist the Word of God into wrong understanding, and the same schoolmaster also teaches his slaves to pervert and understand wrongly the Word of God to their own destruction.  They search for allowance for sin from the Word of God and expound the Scriptures like the devil himself, and the more they read, the more blind they become, and say, "Are we also blind?" But this man read the Bible with that intention that he would get the right enlightenment, but he had to confess that he did not understand what he read.  So it probably goes with many Jews and with many Gentiles, that they read the Bible but do not understand what they read.  However to this previously-mentioned man a desire had come that he would be able to understand, when he begged of Philip that he would expound that place in the Bible which he was reading.  But many a Jew is so wise in his own mind that he does not want to hear any expounding, for the Jews and Gentiles think they understand the Scriptures so that they do not want to hear how Jesus' disciples expound the Scriptures.  The Jews of this time say thus, "Surely we can see for ourselves from the book, you need expound nothing for us." But this man, however, said he did not understand what he read, he therefore confessed his blindness in the matter. But the Jews of this time do not confess that they understand nothing from the Bible, but they say, "Surely we can see for ourselves from the Book." They say, therefore, as the Jews, "Are we also blind?" Then the Saviour said, "If ye were blind,  ye should have no sin, but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin remaineth." So said the Saviour to those Jews, and so we must say to the gypsies, who here fight against the truth and say, "Surely we can see for ourselves from the Book" What do the blind wretches see, who have been born blind and have traveled blindly for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 years. They do not see their own destruction, but in the lives of the Christians they surely see faults, as the Jews of that time saw faults in the lives of the Saviour and the disciples.  The same optometrist who then had prepared eyeglasses for the Jews has also prepared eyeglasses for the Jews of this time, with which they see the faults of the disciples very well.  They say that they see from the Scriptures that adultery and drunkenness are allowable; who knows, stealing and whiskey trade will also become allowable when such men consider the Scriptures, whose eyes the devil has reversed that they must believe lies and hate the truth.  To such men who expound the Bible as the devil, Peter has written thus:  "The unlearned and unstable wrest Paul's writings as they do also the other Scriptures unto their own destruction." What do such pagans understand of the Scriptures, when they live contrary to the Scriptures and speak contrary to the Scriptures.  They get such a comprehension of the Scriptures that the Saviour is a false teacher and a disturber of the people, who drives out devils through Beelzebub. It would be better if they confessed their blindness as this eunuch of which we were speaking in the beginning; he confessed to Philip that he did not understand since there was no guide. But certainly the Pharisees and scribes understand that it is blasphemy of God that Jesus confessed Himself to be a child of God. And the same kind of enlightenment the Pharisees of this time have received from the Scriptures, that it is blasphemy of God when a Christian confesses himself to be a child of God.  But some blind wretches do not want to confess that they are blind and lack understanding. Some again bring forth the excuses of the intellect and say,  "It is not such a great wonder that we do not understand the Scriptures, when the disciples did not yet understand the writings, although they had gone to the school of the Saviour for so many years.  But why do they say then,  "We surely can see for ourselves from the Book." What can they see from the Book, who are born blind like the wolf whelps? It is surely true that the disciples did not yet understand the writings before the Saviour opened their understanding.  But the sorrowless do not want to confess that they are without understanding, but they think they understand, although they understand all matters in reverse; there the devil is able to expound all matters in reverse and then they say,  "We surely can see for ourselves from the Book." But the best counsel would be that all blind wretches would confess their blindness and lack of understanding as the queen's eunuch did. It would be the best counsel that they would begin to pray to that great Cross-bearer that He would open the eyes of all the blind wretches to see and the ears of the deaf to hear where the road goes to heaven, for not many before this time have understood the writings before that great Expounder of the Scriptures has begun to expound about Moses and the prophets to the sorrowful disciples on the road to Emmaus, how Christ must suffer all this and afterwards go to glory. And you sorrowful disciples on the road to Emmaus, pray to that great Expounder of the Scriptures, that He would remain with you, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Hear, Thou unknown Expounder of the Scriptures, the sighs of the sorrowful disciples. Our Father, etc.

 

The Gospel:  Luke 24:13-35

 

We hear from today's gospel how the disciples are fools and slow of heart to believe what the prophets have spoken, and therefore the Saviour began to expound to them all the writings of Him from Moses and the prophets.  In accordance with this we must at this moment consider:  "Why were the disciples such fools and slow to believe the writings?" Our hope is that the great Expounder of the Scriptures would open their understanding to understand the Scriptures as long as they are on the way, that they finally would begin to recognize Him in the breaking of bread.

The Saviour said to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures, for they testify of Me." But the Jews read the Scriptures as the devil himself and say to the Christians, "Surely we can see for ourselves from the Book." What do you see from the Book, you Jews and sorrowless pagans? No doubt you see that the Saviour is a disturber of the people and one great sorcerer, who drives out devils by the power of Beelzebub.. What else do you see from the Book, you Jews and sorrowless pagans? No doubt you see from the book that this Christian doctrine, which has received its beginning from Jesus of Nazareth, is one devilish doctrine, and therefore you must carry tales to the governor Pontius Pilate, that He teaches the people beginning from Galilee up to here. And what do you yet see from the Book, you Jews and sorrowless pagans, when you say you can see from the Book whence the way leads to heaven? No doubt you see from the Book that drinking and whiskey trade are allowable, when you have found so many faults in the lives of the Saviour and the disciples, when you can reproach Him of drinking and say, "Behold what a glutton and winebibber this is, a friend of publicans and sinners." Place yet eyeglasses on your nose, namely those eyeglasses which the noted optometrist of the world has made for you, then the letters will become bigger, you will then see many faults in the lives of the disciples; and you can say to the disciples of Jesus as you have said before to their Master, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil." From where have the Jews received such sharp eyes to see faults in the lives of the Christians?  Right from the Book they see how these Christians are false prophets and wild spirits, who do not allow honorable people peace of conscience. But the drunkards whores, thieves, and whiskey merchants:  behold, they are the Christians who have to suffer so much because of their faith.  Grace thieves also have the same faith, who have seen from the Book that penitence and repentance are necessary, but nevertheless become angry with the penitent who demand a true penitence.  The seeds of the serpent squirm at the bottom of the heart when judgement is proclaimed to the grace thief. He has such an expounder of the Scriptures in his breast who shows him that the effect of the Holy Spirit is the effect of the devil's spirit.  The same expounder of the Scriptures shows a grace thief that one penitent soul is a false prophet and wild spirit, who must be dragged out of the house and beaten with a stick.  The Jews are so holy and pious that they will not go into a Gentile's house, nor will they salute him, but all the same they bear hatred toward the Saviour, and pick up rocks when He reproaches them of hypocrisy.  The Jews say, "We have one Father, even God," but they intend to kill the Saviour when He says, "You are of your father, the devil." And although they bear spiritual hatred in their hearts toward the Saviour and intend to kill Him, all the same they say, "Who intends to kill you?" The blind wretches do not know that they have hatred in their hearts; although they pick up stones and take cordwood, all the same they say, "We have love in our hearts, we lie every day at the foot of the cross of Jesus." Who knows at the foot of whose cross they are lying, since the seeds of the serpent squirm at the bottom of the heart.  But nevertheless they say that they can see from the Book where the way goes to heaven.  Such a love the Jews and grace thieves have, that on Palm Sunday they cry: "Hosanna to the Son of David," and on Good Friday they cry, "Take Him away! Crucify Him!" And such an enlightenment they have received from the Scriptures that the murderer Barabbas must be set free, but Jesus must be destroyed. And if Philip comes to ask them, "Understandest thou what thou readest?", they say, "Surely we can see for ourselves from the Book." They certainly can see from the Book that much, that drunkenness and cursing are allowable, adultery and stealing are allowable, greed and whiskey trade are allowable.  Murdering the Saviour and persecuting Christians are allowable, but the preaching of the disciples is not allowable, rebuke for sin and judgement are contrary to the Scriptures, although all the prophets have rebuked and condemned. The Jews understand that much from the Word of God that true penitence and tribulation of conscience are the effects of the devil's spirit. But if a drunkard vomits the Lord's body and blood along with liquor, that is the effect of the Holy Spirit. Such enlightenment the Jews and grace thieves now receive from the Scriptures, that spiritual hatred and blaspheming Christians is the right truth. And if they fetch fire from hell, they receive that kind of enlightenment that they see to make sausages from the blood of the Christians. But now the Jews and pagans can ask, "How did the disciples of Jesus understand the Scriptures when He reproached them saying: O ye fools and slow of heart to believe what the prophets have spoken. Neither did they understand the Scriptures better than we. And if we do not believe what these wild spirits speak to us from the Scriptures, neither did those disciples believe what the prophets had spoken about the Saviour, when He had to reproach them for unbelief." In this place a sorrowless person thinks that he has something to take ahold of.  If some fault in a Christian's faith or life is recognized then immediately the devil's angels receive joy from that, for they think that the disciples of Jesus are perfect, especially when they begin to crawl.  But the matter is not as the devil's angels think, for there are still many shortcomings in both the faith and in the understanding and life of the disciples of Jesus.  But Jesus disciples certainly do not deny that they are slow to believe and poor at understanding what the prophets have written about Him.  But the disciples of Jesus do not mock the Word of God when one unknown Stranger expounds it te them, as Jesus was then yet unknown to them when their eyes were holden because of sorrow and doubt.  If the disciples had been like the sorrowless of this time, they would have said to that unknown Expounder of the Scriptures, "Why do you have to speak to us? We have a book of our own and we can see from it." But the Pharisees and scribes did not see, although they had a Bible in their hands. They only became enraged with Jesus when He took one place from the Scriptures which fit them well and expounded it to them.  They drove Him out of the church and began to push Him over the cliff. The Old Adam got such a great speed when one place came against him.  However, the disciples did not become angry with the Expounder of the Scriptures, although He was unknown to them, but they began to love Him more when He expounded the writings to them. And certainly all true disciples of Jesus would wish that someone would expound the Scriptures to them, for first they are, in behalf of understanding, poor in understanding, and then also slow of heart to belie all that which the prophets have spoken of Him. This lack of understanding comes from that, that in their own heart there is one wrong expounder of the Scriptures: it is love of the world, which reverses the words of the Scriptures so they cannot understand how Christ must suffer all this, and afterwards enter into His glory. The disciples confessed their faith, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel"; but it was only a dead faith as long as their Saviour was alive, but when their Saviour died, they were no longer able to believe, but fell into doubt. How is it with you now, you disciples of Jesus, who travel on the road to Emmaus and are sorrowful? You have no refuge in the world which you have left. But it seems that you have no true refuge in heaven either, since your Saviour has died. How will you get along when there is no refuge, not in heaven or on the earth, or under the earth? One unknown Expounder of the Scriptures travels with you and reproaches you, "Oh, ye fools and slow to believe what the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory." This unknown Expounder of the Scriptures opens your understanding to understand the Scriptures, and you feel some love toward Him, although your eyes are holden so that you do not know Him. Pray therefore, you sorrowful disciples, that this unknown Expounder of the Scriptures would go with you into the village to which you are going, for the evening has come and the sun has set. That unknown Friend, who expounds the Scriptures to you, is one pleasant companion in your sorrow when you are in doubt, since the Saviour has died in your hearts, and you no longer have any refuge, neither in heaven nor on the earth nor under the earth. Then the Expounder of the Scriptures is one pleasant companion for you, who makes your hearts burn. Who knows, you will get to know Him in the breaking of bread, when you come to the village. Pray to that unknown Expounder of the Scriptures, you sorrowful disciples on the road to Emmaus, that He would follow you into the village, and say, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the sun of grace will soon set, soon this time of grace will end, soon darkness will come; abide with us, you unknown Expounder of the Scriptures and follow us into the village. And our hope is that that merciful Friend, although unknown to many, and true Expounder of the Scriptures will hear the pleading and prayer of the doubting disciples, rejected by the world, and will go with them and that their eyes will be opened. Amen.