Second Easter Day 1854 (Second Sermon)
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. Isaiah 42:1-3.
Prophet Isaiah speaks in the 42nd chapter of the Savior to whom God had given life, that He shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. That signifies that He must teach the Gentiles to know what is right and to avoid iniquity. Although some Gentiles are so hardened that they do not receive teaching no matter how they are taught, the Gentiles have another schoolmaster in their own breast who teaches them to oppose the true doctrine. But Prophet Isaiah has said that Christ shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. He must teach the Gentiles to understand judgement so that the Gentiles could not say, "No one has taught us." From this passage in the Bible evangelist Matthew has taken testimony of how the Savior has lived and traveled in the world. But the crowd of the world also thinks they receive support from this place in the Bible, namely when the Prophet says, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street." The sorrowless get such an understanding that the awakened ones cry out in the streets when they admonish the sorrowless ones to repentence. The sorrowless also take this place from the Bible as a testimony that it is not fitting to cry out in the street, since the Prophet has said that the Savior has not cried out in the street like these awakened ones cry out. And from that the children of the world conclude that no one needs to cry out to the world, but let each one keep to himself what he has received, for not even the Savior has cried out in the streets. So the slaves of the enemy conclude that this passage of the Bible is entirely against the awakened, for the awakened supposedly cry out in the streets and lanes, but the Savior has not cried out. We see from the gospel of Matthew that the writer of the gospel has not understood this passage of the Bible in that way like the throng of the world understands it. The Prophet's intention has been that the Savior has not cried out like the children of the world cry out when whiskey rises to the head. The drunkards of the world cry out in the streets and lanes when they come out of the liquor merchant's house, crying their drinking songs and adulterous songs. They cry out in the streets and lanes, "Devil!" and "Satan!" Sometimes they howl like wolf whelps. The Savior has not cried out in the streets like the drunkards cry, but He has preached the Word of God to the people of the world; and the children of the world have become angry with Him. But if a Christian wants to follow the Savior's example and to preach the Word of God to the sorrowless crowd of the world, then the people of the world say, "There is no need to cry out to the world, let each one take care of himself." And the sorrowless also take testimony from the Bible saying, "Not even the Savior has cried out in the streets." It is true that the Savior has not cried out in the streets like the children of the world cry out when whiskey rises to the head. But the Savior has certainly cried out in the streets and houses so that the sinners have been able to hear into which place they will go if true penitence and repentance do not come. When drunkards holler their prattle in the streets and their drinking songs, the children of the world do not keep this to be anything strange. But if a Christian begins to remind the sorrowless of death and that accountability which will come to impenitent and unconverted ones, that they keep to be evil and say to the awakened, "The Savior did not cry out in the streets like you do." But who has cried out repentance more than the Savior? For that reason the people of the world have become angry and borne hatred, just as the crowd of the world even now becomes angry with Christians, when they follow the Savior's example and preach the Word of God to the sorrowless. The people of the world cannot stand to hear that, but the drunkards they certainly can stand to hear for the drunkards cry out that which all the sorrowless willingly listen to.
What Prophet Isaiah says of the Savior: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench", that passage of the Bible the grace thieves own for themselves although it does not belong to others than to the penitent ones. When God's severe righteousness is proclaimed to grace thieves, then they own for themselves God's grace and say, "God is merciful, He will not put us into perdition either. A bruised reed will He not break and the smoking flax will He not quench." But is a sorrowless person a bruised reed, he whose heart is as stout as a lion's heart? Is he that smoking flax? A bruised reed is, in a spiritual sense, a broken heart. But does a sorrowless and impenitent one have a broken heart? The smoking flax signifies that the lamp of faith has gone out. Dead faith is so strong that nothing else than the Savior's death is able to steal it. Through the Savior's death the disciples' dead faith became lacking. Before they had a firm faith, but through the Savior's death the former dead faith ended and unbelief came in its place. They no longer believed anything; then they were in great doubt, and at that time their hearts were like one smoking flax. But when do great doubts come to sorrowless people so that they doubt of their salvation?
All grace thieves have such a firm faith that they certainly do not doubt of their salvation, but even then they do not dare to say they are ready to die. How can a sorrowless and impenitent person own for himself those places from the Bible which do not belong to them but only to penitent souls? Yes, in this way he can, when he steals grace and thinks thus: I am penitent, although penitence has never occurred. I have a broken heart, although the heart has not been broken. My heart is like a bruised reed, although it is firm as a rock. My faith is so weak it is like a smoking flax, although the faith is so strong that nothing else than death can rob them of it. Behold, in this way a sorrowless person can own for himself those passages of the Bible which belong to the awakened and penitent, but those which belong to the sorrowless they throw to the awakened. When the Prophet says, "he does not cry in the street" like drunkards cry out, then the children of the world take that testimony and say, "The Savior has not cried out in the streets like the awakened cry out." But nevertheless the Savior has preached repentance on the streets. The sorrowless think thus: "Even if the Savior would have preached repentance on the street, others cannot do likewise for that reason.", although the Bible indicates in every place that a Christian must follow the Savior's example and live like He has lived. The sorrowless crowd do not concede but they want that all would be the same kind as they are. If the sorrowless go to hell the Christians will come after them. But if the Christians become saved then the children of the world will also become saved. Such is the faith of the children of the world, that the Christians and the sorrowless are in one and the same pit of destruction and no one is any better than another.
Today we must consider what difference there is between the disciples and the Jews. Or what difference there is between the enemies of the cross of Jesus and the Christians.
When we, with a sorrowful heart, leave to go to the village of Emmaus to consider those remarkable happenings which have occurred during these days, our hope is that that bruised reed, of which Isaiah speaks, is a broken heart which the merciful Savior does not want to break, and that the smoking flax is a small spark of faith which He does not want to quench. Do not quench the smoking flax, dear Savior! Do not quench it, but blow upon it, that it would begin to burn and would give light to those sorrowful disciples who sit in darkness and await the break of day. You smoking flax, do not be quenched. You small spark of faith, do not go out! You bruised reed, do not break! You sorrowful heart, do not despair. For the Maker of the candle has said, "the smoking flax will I not quench". Do not quench, you heavenly Lighter of the candle: do not quench, you smoking flax, before the Sun arises. Our Father who art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel: Luke 24:13
The disciples on the road to Emmaus revealed in today's gospel what kind of faith they had before the Savior died. From their speech it is also heard that their faith has ended, but when their eyes opened and they knew the Savior in the breaking of bread, the faith that the Savior was living came to them again.
We must now take an example from the disciples and consider: First: What kind of faith did these disciples have when the Savior was alive? Second: What kind of faith did they have after the Savior's death? Third: What kind of faith did they have after the Savior's resurrection?
We hope that the Savior will come as a companion to those sorrowful disciples who travel to the village of Emmaus and expound the Scripture to them, and that they will get to know Him in the breaking of bread. First; What kind of faith did these disciples have before the Savior died? They had the faith that He should redeem Israel; not from under the rule of the devil, but from under the rule of Caesar. The disciples had the intention that the Savior will come to be their king, and that they through Him would become rich and become great lords. They had the world on their mind as long as they were in that dead faith. They did not think that through the Christianity they would lose possessions and honor, but they imagined that they would gain worldly possessions and honor through Christianity. The same faith is still with other confessors of dead faith, that through Christianity they will gain possessions and honor. Not one in that condition believes that he will lose honor and possessions because of Christianity. It did not come to mind to those wretches that a spiritual Savior was more necessary than a natural Savior. And how would they have known then that they were subjects of the devil? They only kept it to be troublesome and a shame to be subjects of a Gentile government and to pay taxes to the Gentiles. It hurt their honor greatly that they should even serve a Gentile government and pay taxes to the Gentiles. The disciples kept themselves to be Christians already then and how does that fit that a Christian must serve the Gentiles and pay taxes to them? Wouldn't it be more fitting if the Gentiles would pay taxes to the Christians? Even now all confessors of dead faith think thus, who keep themselves as Christians although even then they do not dare to confess themselves to be children of God. They complain that taxes are burdensome, that the law is severe, that the rule is evil: they want to be free from burdensome taxes. They do not feel that the devil's taxes are even more burdensome than the taxes of the king or Caesar. To the devil they gladly pay taxes, but they do not want to pay taxes to the natural king. And if such a lord would come who would promise them freedom from all taxes and obligations, and would also feed them and would give them liqour, he certainly would be suitable to them for a savior and they would believe upon him. But such a lord who barks and reproaches for iniquity and for ungodly living and also accuses tax thieves and whores, according to their minds such a lord would be worse than the devil himself. Now if the king or Caesar was still a Gentile, then all would say, "Is a Christian duty bound to pay taxes to Gentiles?" No, but a Christian should be free of all taxes and the Gentiles should pay taxes, but not the Christians, to the Gentiles. Such a faith the disciples now had that the Savior would come to redeem Israel from under the rule of the Gentiles but not from under the devil's rule. And how did they then know that they were under the devil's rule? Those people who drink and fight, commit adultery and steal certainly do not know that they are under the devil's rule. They imagine that God is merciful to them. But the law of the land which punishes such is severe and wrong, and such a government which would allow all whores and thieves to live in peace, that truly would be a good government. Since now the hearts of the disciples were entirely fastened to the world they awaited such a savior who would rescue them from under the rule of the Gentiles and would make them judges and lords.
Second: What kind of faith did these disciples have after the Savior's death? They had no faith. Formerly they believed upon the Savior through whom they thought they would gain worldly possessions and honor, but when the Savior died, their faith was entirely gone. They could no longer believe upon that former Savior. Even if their faith was supposedly so strong that even death could not take it from them, their old faith finally became so weak that there was no longer hope that they would see the Savior in this world. Therefore from that we see that under the former old dead faith, which is supposedly strong and unbreakable, lies a secret unbelief, which does not come out before that earthly savior dies. In this mortal atmosphere all unconverted people rely upon a false savior; they rely upon a perishing and mortal savior; they imnagine they will gain possessions and honor through the Savior. They thank the Savior with nice prayers when in peace they are able to serve that god who lives in the colon. A thief also can thank God, that his thefts have prospered and that no one has seen him stealing. A whore can also thank God, that no one has overtaken her in her pure deviltry. But what god is it to whom impenitent whores and thieves pray? Is he the God in heaven or in hell? I fear that the god of the sorrowless and impenitent is in hell. But they trust the best upon that savior who feeds and sustains them. The liquor merchants trust the best upon that savior who has taught them to keep a liquor business and to gain by crookedness, and that god who teaches them to keep a liquor business is in the colon. Whores and drunkards imagine that God made them poor when they have wasted their substance because of the lust of the flesh. They do not believe that the god who made them poor is in the colon, although the devil has taught some to become rich through crookedness and some he has made poor. A natural man is so stupid that he thinks that through the Savior he will gain goods and honor. But now when this natural Savior dies, then all faith ends. When the conscience awakens, sins begin to crucify the Savior. The Savior is crucified in a person's heart because of sin. And then that Savior, upon whom a person has formerly trusted, dies and unbelief comes in place. Where now do the sorrowful disciples have refuge since the parent died, from whom he imagined he would receive sustenance. The orphan children must now die of hunger. How can they live since the Savior upon whom they have trusted has died and the world has become horrible, the heart has become sorrowful, people have begun to hate, sin has begun to smart, the enemy has begun to attack. there is no longer refuge in the world nor in heaven since the Savior has died. Just now distress has come to the disciples since faith has ended, love has ended, meekness has ended, and prayers have ended. If the Savior does not come soon to the disciples they will die of sorrow and doubt. But certainly Jesus cannot allow the sorrowful disciples to perish in doubts, but then when distress is the greatest. He comes to expound Scriptures to them and finally He reveals Himself to them; they know Him in the breaking of bread.
Third: What kind of faith did the disciples of Jesus have after the resurrection? A living faith and the assurance of God's grace and of the forgiveness of sins. This faith is certainly not as firm as that former dead faith when they imagined that through the Savior they would gain worldly goods and honor. But that living faith is often weak and united with great warfare so that after Jesus' resurrection the disciples traveled hurriedly to reveal to the other disciples how the Lord was known of them. In that faith, which comes to the disciples after the resurrection is first great fear and zeal, sometimes sorrow and longing, sometimes joy and rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, sometimes severe temptations and doubts. And what more are the characteristics of living faith? A great desire to reveal to the other disciples their experiences and to speak of Christianity. Formerly in dead faith nothing was spoken of Christianity and, although the Savior then spoke much of His suffering, at that time they knew nothing of reconciliation, penitence, and new birth. Then it was only a vain trust on that Savior through whom they imagined that they would gain worldly goods and honor. As in dead faith there is a great spiritual blindness, so they understood the Word of God very wrongly; they understood the Bible perversely; they thought the promised Savior would come as a natural king although the prophets had spoken of a spiritual Savior. And although the Savior had spoken many times of His death they did not understand of what He spoke. So it happens even yet to all confessors of dead faith, that they turn the Word of God around; turn to natural interpretation all that pertains to spiritual. But after the Savior's death great sorrow came to the disciples. When the conscience awakens, the Savior is crucified in a person's heart because of the multitude of sins, and then the awakened ones get a great desire to hear how the Word of God is expounded. That unknown Visitor who expounds the Word of God of Christ's suffering to sorrowful souls is dear to awakened souls. They begin to pray to Him, "Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." You sorrowful disciples on the road to Emmaus who travel with Jesus although your eyes are holden because of sorrow and doubt, nor do you recognize Him: begin now to fervently pray to that unknown Expounder of the Scriptures that He would go into the village with you, since the sun of grace has set; before that great spiritual darkness comes. Pray to that unknown Companion that He would go with you into the village where you are endeavoring. Who knows! Your eyes which are holden because of sorrow and doubt will be opened at the village of Emmaus. Who knows if you will know the crucified Savior in the breaking of bread. Pray to that unknown Companion that He would open the eyes of the blind wretches to understand the Scriptures when He expounds the writings of Moses and the prophets of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection. You poor and weary journeymen! You sorrowful disciples, despised by the world; pray to that unknown Expounder of Scriptures that He would not leave you in sorrow and doubt when the sun of grace has set and the evening of death has arrived, but that the unknown journey Companion would follow you to the village and would be with you when that spiritual darkness comes upon you, when you no longer see to travel onward. Oh, you unknown Expounder of the Scriptures! Open the understanding of all blind wretches. Expound to all sorrowful and doubting disciples of the writings of Moses and the prophets of Christ's death and resurrection, that their hearts would become burning, that their eyes would finally open and they would get to know You in the breaking of bread. Amen.