Third Sunday after Easter, Sermon A.
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." Genesis 3:16
God placed this punishment upon the woman, that she must bring forth children with pain. This pain of delivery came upon the woman because of sin. If the woman had not eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tree, she would have been able to bring forth without pain. But because of sin this pain of delivery came upon her.
From this natural pain of delivery, the Saviour has also taken a parable when He said to His disciples, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow because her hour is come, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." (John 16:21)
Here He speaks of that spiritual travail of birth, which came to the disciples through the death of the Saviour. A great spiritual sorrow came to the disciples after the death of the Saviour, and this great spiritual sorrow or travail of birth is placed upon him because of the fall into sin. For we hear in the third chapter of Genesis, that the Lord first placed travail of natural birth upon the woman for the reason that she had eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tree. Secondly, from this travail of birth a parable is taken of how the travail of birth comes upon the disciples in a spiritual sense, when spiritual sorrow comes to them. The Saviour says, namely, in today's gospel, "ye shall weep and lament but the world shall rejoice, and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Every disciple has experienced that the sorrow which is after the mind of God "worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of". The disciples have also come to experience that their sorrow will be turned to joy. So also is this travail, which was placed by God upon woman because of sin, also placed upon those who are reborn. All the prophets have spoken of this travail of birth, and the Apostle John in the Revelation saw a woman who cried in the tribulation of birth, who had a crown on her head, she was clothed with the sun and the moon was under her feet. All these places speak of that tribulation of birth which, in a spiritual sense, must come upon the disciples of Jesus, but we know that the woman must first become pregnant before the tribulation of birth can come upon her. God says, namely, in the third chapter of Genesis, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." From which also follows, that no tribulation of birth will come to others than those who have become pregnant. But the whores of the world do not want to become pregnant. They want to commit adultery, but not become pregnant; they want to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, but do not want to give birth. How could tribulation of birth come upon those who do not want to become pregnant? God laments through the prophet Ezekiel that Israel is one spiritual whore, who committed adultery with many idols and allowed the Egyptian whorebucks to squeeze her breasts. So also the devil's whore has allowed the devil to squeeze her breasts and has lain in the bosom of the devil for many years, and has committed adultery with many idols. She has committed adultery with so many that she has finally become unfruitful or an inappeasable harlot. Such an inappeasable harlot does not become fruitful, although she would lie near the Holy Spirit every night. And how could tribulation of birth come to such a one who is unfruitful? And such unfruitful ones and inappeasable harlots are first the wise of the world, who look at the effects of the Holy Spirit as the effects of the devil's spirit. The devil has squeezed their breasts so long, that they have hardened. The devil has kept them in his lap so long that they have given in, and having been persuaded so long, finally consented also to commit adultery. How can these devil's whores become fruitful, who have committed adultery with so many idols that they become inappeasable harlots? When the whores of the devil become old, the devil causes them to carry dung, through which they become shameless whores, and such pour the urine pot on the bridesmaids of the Saviour, but certainly they are anyway meek and beautiful before the world, and become terribly angry if someone reproaches or barks at them as being devil's harlots. They intend to ask after their honor if someone would bark at them as whores and thieves, for they know they are innocent.
The devil has made them innocent and given them that assurance that they are innocent. Otherwise they confess themselves to be great sinners, but God is merciful, namely that god of the world whom they have served. The god of the world is so merciful to them, that he forgives their sins without sorrow, without grief, without penitence. And when the devil has forgiven their sins, then they believe upon the Saviour. They also attend the Lord's Supper and there give the Saviour a kiss, but behind the church they give Baal a kiss. They are godly in church and ungodly behind the church, bless in church and curse behind the church, drink from the Lord's cup in church and from the devil's cup behind the church, are meek in the church and commit adultery behind the church. Such are old Christians, and such meek and honorable people are kept in high esteem in the world. They are the chief men in the congregation, who think they are the friends of God when they drink, curse and fight, commit adultery and steal, keep a whiskey trade, build beautiful buildings, go about in broadcloth clothes and become lords. Such meek and honorable men do not have any sin to repent of. And whoever does not have sins worth being penitent over, he need not be sorrowful, he never becomes heavy hearted, he probably will not become pregnant of the Holy Spirit. And how could tribulation of birth come to him who is not pregnant?
But the sorrowful disciples of Jesus are in tribulation of birth until the new man is born. But when the new man is born, they no longer remember the tribulation because of the joy that a man is born into the world. In today's gospel the Saviour now speaks of that tribulation of spiritual birth. Namely, He says to His disciples, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." That is, you will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy. Therefore, thus the Saviour has explained in this place how the new birth happens. It happens with sorrow and grief or with pain and tribulation. Because of sin both the natural and spiritual tribulation of birth are placed upon man. But as it has been said, to the unfruitful no tribulation of birth will come. And how could tribulation of birth come to those who have never conceived or become pregnant. Peter writes to the Christians, "Ye have been born of incorruptible seed." And with these words he makes it known that without seed no one can become fruitful. David testifies "that he was born of sinful seed." That is, the old man which was given under corruption. The old man is born of sinful seed, and therefore the old man always remains sinful as long as he lives, but the new man is born of incorruptible seed and therefore there should be no corruption in him.
And now when many have become partakers of that incorruptible seed, then it would be necessary to examine how many in this place have become pregnant and fruitful of that seed, so that some whore who has the desire to hide her pregnancy would not get to destroy her fruit. It is better that all gossipy women in the village would get word of that, how many have become pregnant during these times and fruitful of that incorruptible seed, so that they need not guess so much who the father of the new man is. Who knows if all who have brought forth children have known it correctly. But now all honor must be stripped from those who have become fruitful of that incorruptible seed, for not all are able to so squeeze themselves, that it could be hidden. I give that good advice to all who are in that blessed condition, that they reveal themselves and would tell all the people of the village who has made them pregnant and fruitful. I advise all bridesmaids of the Saviour, that they would confess with tears and sighs who has made them pregnant and fruitful. Confess, daughters of Jerusalem, confess, daughters of Zion, who the true father of that new man is. Confess with tears and sighs, that of the incorruptible seed the fruit has had its beginning, and especially when the tribulation of birth begins to come upon you severely, then cry out with such a loud voice, that all gossipy women would hear, and say boldly who the true Father is. And do not come to church in the manner of a whore, but pray the true Father of the new man that He who, under the promise of marriage, has made His bride pregnant and fruitful with that incorruptible seed, would take you into the church in the manner of a bride and would give you an engagement ring to wear, and put a crown of honor on your head, when you gave your heart to Him for an everlasting time. Hear, Heavenly Groom, when your poor bride cries out your name in tribulation of birth, Our Father, who art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel: John 16:16
With the guidance of our holy gospel we must today, through God's grace, speak and consider: "How the bride of the Saviour, who has become pregnant with the incorruptible seed, cries out in tribulation of birth." First: How the bride of the Saviour becomes fruitful of that incorruptible seed. Second: How the bride of the Saviour behaves herself in that blessed condition, and third: How the bride of the Saviour cries out in tribulation of birth and confesses the name of the true Father.
May God give His blessing to all pregnant and those in tribulation of birth, that they would be able to carry the load with patience, and that the new man would be born into the world fortunately.
The First consideration: How the bride of the Saviour becomes fruitful with the incorruptible seed. When Apostle Peter writes to the Christians that they are born of the incorruptible seed, he understands the incorruptible seed to be the Word of God, which in many places in the Bible is compared to seed. But the Saviour Himself is called the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, of which it is understood that with the incorruptible seed is meant the Word which became flesh and that Word which effects in the heart one wonderful change or the beginning of a new man. We know that not one woman will become fruitful without a seed. So also God's congregation, which in the Scriptures is compared to the bride of the Saviour, cannot become fruitful without seed. The bride of the Saviour becomes fruitful when she lies near the Holy Spirit or in the Saviour's lap; He then pours the incorruptible seed into the heart of the bride. And if that person, into whose heart this incorruptible seed is poured, is a pure virgin, she would immediately become fruitful. But there is no other pure virgin than the virgin Mary. All others are the devil's whores and some have committed adultery with so many, that they have become unfruitful. But of those devil's whores the Saviour must choose someone for a bride, who will become fruitful through His Holy and incorruptible seed. One upright man does not willingly want to take another man's whore for a wife, but the Saviour must take the devil's whore as a bride. Have you, devil's whore, merited this great love? Are you worthy as such to sit in the lap of the Son of God? Are you, devil's whore, worthy to bear the crown of glory? Surely you are not worthy. Is it a long time ago when you lay in the lap of the devil and laughed like a magpie and mocked the heavenly Parent's tears? How have you now become the bride of the Saviour? When you lay in the devil's lap, then you were beautiful before the world: gold necklaces on the neck, a gold heart in the breast, silk skirts on. When you have no longer been acceptable to the devil for a whore, the Saviour took the devil's whore for His bride. The devil's angels spit upon her and said, "Is that the kind the bride of the Son of God is, who now shamelessly barks at honorable people?" One naked, scabby, and old whore, full of smelly wounds from which the pus of deviltry runs, is no longer acceptable to the devil for a whore, what then for a bride for the Saviour. So the meek whores of the world think, who think themselves fitting for the Saviour's bride. Now all the angels of heaven also come to see how beautiful the bride of the Saviour is. Paul says, namely, that the reconciliation is one great mystery, which even the angels desire to see. Joy comes to the angels of heaven over one sinner who becomes converted and is healed. Certainly they are kept as wonders, that one whore of the devil is acceptable to the Son of God for a bride. But her beauty stands basically in that, that she is so sorrowful that she washes the Saviour's feet with her tears, that she kisses the Saviour's feet, that she loves so much, and therefore so much sin is forgiven to her. But although some of the devil's whores now become fruitful with that incorruptible seed, do not believe that there are many who remain in wedlock. God commanded one prophet to take one whore for his wife, and the prophet pleaded with her, that she would be satisfied with one man. But the harlot did not restrain herself, she loved other men as before. Can one upright man love a harlot who is a whore to many men? And such a harlot was Israel.
Second consideration; How does the Saviour's bride behave in that blessed condition? That woman who has become fruitful is said to be in a blessed condition. And surely the promised bride of the Saviour is in a blessed condition, when she has become fruitful with that incorruptible seed. But with this blessing also follows great hardship. The Lord said to the woman, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." Under this trouble, the bride of the Saviour becomes impatient and heavy hearted. Sometimes she trusts too much upon her strength. Some do not even know when and how they would have become pregnant. They only feel that they have a heavier state of being than before. They themselves complain and the women of the village complain that they are not in the former state of being. And when they as yet do not have ties of marriage seriously with a man, such a pregnant condition becomes shameful. They do not dare to reveal their condition to anyone. Some spiritual harlots cause abortion of the fruit with quicksilver, take internally fat of the serpent, mixed with devil's dung and the slime of dead faith, or squeeze their abdomen so intensely, so that people would not see in what condition she is. And this trick of the devil has often killed the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We mentioned before that whores do not want to become pregnant or fruitful at all; they only want to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For that reason they commit adultery with many idols, and all the same want to bear the name of the bride of the Saviour. They think that they love Jesus. Before the altar they give the Saviour the kiss of Judas, but behind the church they give the devil a kiss. They come before the altar of Jesus to make a new covenant and reassurance that they must be faithful unto death, but behind the church they make a new covenant and determination with the devil that they will never leave him. And when they see that the bride of the Saviour is so sorrowful that she weeps and sighs carrying Jesus' cross, then the devil's whores think: "May God protect me from becoming so crazy." When the bride of the Saviour is in tribulation of conscience, then the devil's whore thinks: "This is nothing else than the effect of the devil's spirit. They make themselves that way." But although the devil's whore does not want to become pregnant or fruitful at all, it happens sometimes that they become that way against their will, for everyone who takes pleasure lying in the lap of the devil stands at first against the effects of the Holy Spirit. He does not want to tear himself loose from the claws of the devil at all, although the heavenly Parent is on His knees, weeps and sighs saying, "Come away; for goodness sake, do not lie in the devil's lap." But the devil's whore does not hear; she lies in the devil's lap and laughs and allows the devil to squeeze her breasts before the eyes of the whole world, and in that pleasure of the flesh she blasphemes the tears of the heavenly Parent, and says to the sorrowful Parent, "Come and strike me if you dare!" But it happens sometimes that the heavenly Parent by force snatches His child from under the devil. And then great shame comes to the devil's whore, that she must cover her eyes from before God and people. Man does not resist at all when the devil begins to give his consent with the world and love of the flesh. The devil does not need to lift her into the bed by force, but the whore herself lies down, bares her breasts, and lifts up her own skirt, also removes her shirt if so needed, and says to the devil, "Come now near me if you have the desire." But when the Son of God wants her for a bride, then the devil's whore is shy. The devil's whore does not allow the Son of God to even come near, the Son of God cannot even touch her hand, to say nothing of the breast. When the Son of God begins to speak to her of marriage and of having a wedding, then the devil's whore sometimes becomes red like liver, and sometimes becomes white like a corpse. When the Son of God says to the devil's whore, "If you want to enter into matrimony with me, then you must strip yourself naked and I will give you white wedding raiment and a crown of glory." Then the devil's whore becomes angry and says to the heavenly Groom, "Must I strip myself naked before You and the whole world? That I will not do, even if I would receive three heavens as a reward, I will not begin to show the most shameful places to the world; I do not want to become honorless."
Surely you have lain naked with the devil in the darkness and under the covers of meekness, but at that time you knew nothing of your nakedness. But when the Son of God demands that you must strip yourself naked in the light of Christianity, before the eyes of the whole world, then you are so shy that you cover your face because of worldly honor. But I say to you, you devil's whore, you will never receive wedding raiment if you do not strip yourself naked before the whole world. Surely the meek whores of the world can see how terrible one devil's whore is, when she stands naked and bared, scabby and full of smelly wounds before God's throne and before the eyes of all the holy angels. The meek whores of the world ask, "Is this the kind the bride of the Son of God is?" Yes, such she is, she is no better than one female devil. And then the meek whores of the world begin to spit upon her and say, "Go to hell. Is such a female devil the bride of the Son of God?" Yes, such she is, she is no more beautiful. The meek whores of the world think that the bride of the Son of God should be beautiful or like an angel. But she is no better than a female devil. But the devil's whore, she is really beautiful before the world. She is so beautiful, she shines with gold of meekness. She has gold necklaces on her neck and a gold heart in her breast, and gold rings on every finger, then also ear rings, bared breasts, silk ribbons, breast plate; how otherwise would she be befitting to the devil for a whore, unless she was beautiful. It is the opposite of the Saviour's poor bride, who has nothing with which to cover her nakedness.
Third consideration: How the Saviour's bride cries out in tribulation of birth and confesses the name of the true Father. When one devil's whore, as it has been said, becomes fruitful against her will with the incorruptible seed of the Holy Spirit, then the tribulations of birth come, which God placed on the one giving birth, naturally and spiritually. Some can go for a longer time pregnant, sorrowful and down-pressed by the load of sin, before that time comes that the new man is born. "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow" says our Saviour, and He explained to the disciples in this way, that this pain is one spiritual anguish which the true disciples of Jesus cannot escape. "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice." This weeping and lamenting came to the disciples of Jesus when they longed for Jesus' merciful presence. And this sorrow, which is necessary for all, is according to the mind of God, which worketh repentance unto salvation, which a person does not regret. It is called tribulation of conscience and is a spiritual anguish which goes before the new birth. But as soon as the sorrow and weeping come to the disciples of Jesus, then joy comes to the world. The magpies begin to laugh when the disciples of Jesus weep, and this lamentation of Jesus' disciples in the ears of the forest devils sounds like the howling of the wolf. When the tears of the penitent burn the conscience of the sorrowless, then the confessors of dead faith say, "What howling is this?" And how do those blind wretches know for what reason the poor disciples of Jesus weep; they think that such tribulation comes to the awakened from the devil. But when they themselves howl in the whiskey merchant's house, then they say, "This is the effect of the Holy Spirit." But the joy of the world is not long-lived. When, namely, the disciples' sorrow is turned into joy, then all magpies become angry and think they themselves are being mocked.
But cry out in tribulation of birth, you bride of Jesus; cry out boldly, weep, sigh, and lament, so that your voice will be heard from the depths to heaven. Do not cease sighing and lamenting, until the Groom comes and presses you against His breast. Take Him around the knees and bow your knees in the Lord Jesus' name and say, "Crucified and Thorn-crowned King! I am unworthy of that grace and faithfulness which you have shown toward me. I have before mocked your tears, and trampled your blood. I am therefore not worthy to lean my head against your breast, but do not remember the former time, but take me now as your bride into the church, and take me with You into your kingdom." Amen.