Sixth Sunday after Easter, Sermon A.
Jesus said to the Jews, "But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God. Ye do the deeds of your Father." Then they said to Him, "We be not born of fornication: we have one Father, even God." John 8:40,41.
We hear from these words of Jesus, which are read in the gospel of John, the true reason why the Jews killed Jesus, namely, because of the truth, for the children of the devil cannot stand to hear the truth. The seed of the serpent becomes angry especially with those who speak the truth to them. For the devil has reversed their eyes, so that they must believe lies. The devil has painted such pictures before the eyes of the Jews that the Son of God becomes an enemy, and the enemy changes into a god to them, whose words they hold to be true, but God's truth they hold that it is a lie and false reproach. If the Son of God reproves the Jews of sin, namely, that they do the deeds of their father, they answer, "We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God."
In this place the Jews own for themselves the child-right of God's children; the Jews do not want to confess that the devil is their father, as the Jews of this time say, "Surely the door of grace is open; it is not closed to us." In that place the Jews or sorrowless now own for themselves grace which does not belong to them, for the grace of God is not promised to the sorrowless, the hardened or the enemies of the cross of Jesus, who bear spiritual hatred toward Jesus and His disciples. The Jews said to Jesus, "We be not born of fornication." And nevertheless the prophets reprove the Jews that they are bastards although they own for themselves the child-right of God's children. A bastard is such a one who the father does not want to confess to be his. But nevertheless the bastard calls him his father, whom he thinks is in place of his father. And how does a bastard know who his true father is? God reproves the Jews through the mouths of the prophets that they are bastards; namely such bastards who are born of the bed of adultery. Their mother has been a whore, although she has had a man she has nevertheless committed adultery with some other man. And such a whore, who has married a proper man, will surely not begin to confess that she has committed adultery with others. She does not confess to her husband nor to her children, she does not confess to anyone that she is a whore. How then does a bastard know who his true father is? He thinks that his father is that man who the true children confess to be their father. The same faith was with the Jews, that they are the true children, when Abraham and the prophets were God's children. The Jews did not remember that God had a long time before reproached them as seed of a whore. And the Jews of this time have the same faith even now, that God is their Father although God has rejected them long ago. And since when would their mother have confessed that she is a whore? God has already in the Old Testament painted before the eyes of the children of Israel how Israel, that is the congregation, was His chosen bride, with which He had gone into matrimony, but He laments in many places, that this betrothed bride was unfaithful and allowed the Egyptian whore-bucks to squeeze her breasts. Such a whore surely does not confess to her children that they are bastards. But the father, with whom that whore has gone into matrimony who cannot bear to see those whore's offspring before his eyes, he reproaches them often of being bastards. But bastards do not believe that they are children of another father. Therefore the Jews said, "We be not born of fornication." And so all grace thieves say, "We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God." How do you now know this, that you have one Father, even God? Have you been born of that incorruptible seed? Paul writes, "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." Why does spiritual hatred always boil in the heart of the sorrowless when the Christians come to talk to them? Why does the old adam rise every time that a Christian speaks the truth to old adam? The Saviour reproves the Jews of that desire to murder, that they seek to kill Him when He speaks the truth to them. It is such a place, that when the bastards and thieves of grace separate themselves from God's congregation and avoid fellowship with the Christians, certainly they have an iron spike in their hearts, they bear spiritual hatred in their hearts. The children of God and the bastards do not fit into the same house. Between them is raised a high fence, and each is in his own pen. We know that the sorrowless have the same thought as the Jews: "We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God. The door of grace is open to us." But we hear from the Word of God that the door of grace is not open to others than to penitent souls, who knock upon it with tears and sighs. How then could the door of grace be open to the enemies of the cross of Christ, who bear hatred toward the Christians and seek to kill Jesus? The door of grace was not open to the Jews when the enemy came and destroyed their city and burned their church. There was no more grace when they had to pray to their enemies. How could the door of grace be open any better to the hardened ones now than then? It is a vain thought. No matter how the grace thieves would say, "We have one Father, even God." as long as they bear hatred toward Jesus and His disciples, they surely are the devil's children. Why did Jesus say to the Jews, "Ye are of your father, the devil," although the Jews had that faith that God was their father? Now the grace thieves have such a faith that God is their father, and nevertheless are of their father the devil, not only openly sorrowless, as whores and thieves, drunkards and whiskey merchants, cursers and fighters, but also such who have awakened a little and again slept, who have taken for themselves from the first signs of grace such a vain presumption that they are now children of God, although a change of heart has not taken place. Such are the worst enemies of Jesus cross, who say they lie at the foot of Jesus' cross although they lie at the foot of the devil's cross, who imagine that they are cleansed in the blood of Jesus, but are only cleansed in the blood of the dragon, and such now speak only of Jesus, although they hate the Christians. Some confess themselves to be Christians, but do not come into the Christian congregation. They are as those who are over the edge, under the edge, and near the edge, who certainly do not bear a good heart toward the Christians. However such ones say, "We have one Father, even God," but they must be such bastards as the Jews, who said to the Saviour, "We be not born of fornication," — but if the old man would have killed his fruit after birth? Of them come bastards, those whom the old man has killed immediately after birth.
When now there are many kinds of people who bear hatred in their hearts toward the Christians, namely first, the baptized pagans, who have never awakened; second, the half awakened, who have come out of the egg too soon, or been born prematurely; third, such bastards whom the old man has killed immediately after birth; and all of these have become enemies of Jesus' cross. So today we must observe who and what kind they are, who think they are doing God a service when they kill the disciples of Jesus. But we must first pray that great Crossbearer, that He would give the disciples of Jesus strength and power according to the richness of His grace, that they would be able to suffer and withstand the hatred and persecution of the world, that they would be able to war in faith and strive in that great battle and striving, that they would win the crown of eternal life and blood-red clothes, justified in Jesus' blood. Hear Heavenly Parent, the sigh of the sorrowful and penitent. Our Father, who art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel: John 15:26-16:4
In today's gospel the Saviour has revealed to His disciples how the world hates and persecutes the disciples of Jesus, when whosoever kills them will think they are doing God a service. There would be no devil in the world if Jesus' disciples could preach the gospel in peace. But it is just an awful and terrible matter, when the prince of darkness must have such great power on the earth, that he can first arouse such hatred and persecution against the disciples of Jesus, and through this hatred reverse the eyes of his slaves, that they imagine they are doing God a service when they kill the disciples of Jesus. Just there the dragon shows his nature. And if they were ignorant peasants who hated and persecuted Jesus' disciples so, then there would be nothing to say, or if, they were unbaptized and uncircumcized heathens, who had heard nothing of Christianity, who so terribly thirst for Christians' blood. But they are such people who have received the greatest enlightenment of the Word of God, who read and consider the whole Bible, namely the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and elders of the people or the best men of the congregation, who the devil has made so blind that they look at Christianity as the effect of the devil, and the Christians become false prophets and wild spirits in their eyes. There have been some Christians throughout the times from the time when Christianity appeared in the world, but in every place where Christians have appeared, there the devil's crowd has also hated and persecuted the Christians, and everywhere the Christians have been held to be false prophets and wild spirits, and everyone who has killed them thought they were doing God a service. In Luther's kingdom the Christians have not been killed as in the pope's kingdom, but they have been driven out from the kingdom, put into prison, fined, and tormented in many ways, so that the catholics now reproach the confessors of the Lutheran faith that the Lutheran believers are no better than the catholics in that matter of persecution.
Let us observe now, through God's grace, why the sorrowless are so angry with the Christians, and why they think they are doing God a service when they kill the disciples of Jesus.
The first consideration; Why do the sorrowless hate the Christians?
The second consideration; Why do they think they are doing God a service when they kill Jesus' disciples?
If all the sorrowless would see their image now in this picture, that they would become horrified when they hear how the blood of Abel cries out vengeance from the earth over his brother's murderer!
The first consideration; Why do the children of the world hate the disciples of Jesus? Or why do the children of the devil hate the children of God?
Above all the abominations which the children of the devil already do, this spiritual hatred is the greatest horror and worst abomination which the slaves of the devil already do upon the earth. If God were as severe in punishing the hardened ones as He was in Moses' time, when He intended to destroy all the people because of the pride of some, He would have long ago destroyed all the black leeches which suck the blood of the Christians. But God is so merciful that He allows the leeches to suck the blood of the Christians until they burst, for so it has happened in all kingdoms where the black leeches have sucked the blood of Christians, that they have finally burst. As the enemy has split open the Jews, so also the leeches in the pope's kingdom have been split open, and the enemy has squeezed their innards so hard that they have had to vomit out and excrete the Christians' blood so that the leech could not long enjoy the blood which it had sucked. For in those kingdoms where the Christians were molested the most, there the false faith of the sorrowless has been strengthened that the Christians are false prophets and wild spirits, and then finally that rough paganish people have become agitated and have risen in terrible rebellion against the government, and have killed officials of the king and the government and the lords of the world. They have shed the people's blood like a stream. And so the devil has squeezed from their intestines the Christians' blood which they have sucked, so that not one drop was left which was not dug out of their veins. So it has happened in those kingdoms where Christians have been persecuted, although they then thought they were doing God a service when they killed the disciples of Jesus. But afterward they have been able to see what God it is to whom they did service. And this persecution of Christians has always had its beginning from the peasant class. When, namely, some from the Libertinian synagogue and the Cyrenian synagogue and the Alexandrian synagogue rose to dispute with Stephen and were not able to resist that wisdom and that spirit by which he spoke, then they suborned men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." When the sorrowless could not hold their own disputing with Stephen, they set up false witnesses and brought all kinds of falsehood upon the Christians. It is written in the epistle for the second Christmas day that they set up false witnesses which said, "This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law." The sorrowless could not come upon the Christians with the power of the law otherwise, but they always found false witnesses and six mark men, who gave false testimony without paid wages and lied about the Christians, and through these falsehoods incited government officials upon the Christians; and they again brought the Christians before the church council, where sometimes one wise Gamaliel is, who prevents the persecution of the Christians with these words, "Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." Acts 5:35,38,39.
There now is a mirror, you persecutors of Christians, how it has happened before, and so even happens today in these times. But nevertheless, the sorrowless do not receive peace of conscience. The crowd of the devil was not then satisfied before Stephen was stoned, and then the devil's crowd can get to really suck the Christians' blood. Some persecutors of Christians were taken ahold of powerfully, for example Saul, but just there the Jews were terribly angry when the best hero of faith became a Christian.
The second consideration: Why do the devil's crowd think they are doing God a service when they kill the disciples of Jesus? Because the devil has reversed their eyes. They have received that enlightenment from hell that the Christians are false prophets and wild spirits, who do not give honorable people peace of conscience. Paul's gospel was an offence to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. The heathens said that the Christianity is a peculiar superstition. The heathens also said that the Christians were possessed of evil spirits when they saw the Christians moved. The effect of Christianity, in the eyes of the heathens, changed into the torchlight of the devil's spirit. Look how the devil has reversed the eyes of his slaves. When true Christianity is changed to a terrible wildness in the eyes of the heathens, then in that way the devil makes his servants believe that they are doing God a service when they kill the disciples of Jesus. The blood of the Christians is sweet as syrup in the mouth of the dragon, although afterwards it smarts in the stomach like poison, so that in some kingdoms he has had to vomit out the Christians' blood which he has sucked before. When namely the devil's sect first lies so much about the Christians, that it is able to get the government to become angry and believe lies which the six mark men testify, then the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees get to persecute the Christians by the power of the natural law, and through that persecution the coarse people are strengthened in their false faith that the Christians are the worst people on the earth. Along side of the Christians, the whores and thieves are like angels of light. The people asked that the murderer and robber Barrabas be freed. And through that the devil gets such great power over the people that rebellions bloodshed, and civil war are not far from that kingdom where Christians are persecuted, when the coarse people are incited. And from those persecutors of Christians come the true wild spirits, who no more spare the scribes, nor the Pharisees, nor the sorrowless priests, nor the lords of the people either, as the history of the destruction of Jerusalem also shows. Who reads this, let him understand! Thus the black worm and the leech of the Christians' blood must vomit out the Christians' blood which it has sucked. Thus the enemy squeezes the intestines of the black worm, that blood squirts from both ends. God has given the persecutors of the Christians into the care of Satan, that they begin to fight amongst themselves and kill one another, when God's severe righteousness puts them into the winepress of His wrath and presses the sour grapes so that the blood flows the distance of 1,600 furlongs. Fear now all you black worms, be terrified all you who suck blood, and observe how it has gone with the former persecutors of the Christianity.
You think that you are doing God a service when you kill the disciples of Jesus, but what God is it to whom you do service? Yes, it is the god of the world, it is that old worm which is called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world. And what angels are they, who persecute the Christians most? Yes, meek whores, honest thieves, temperate drunkards, and merciful saloon keepers are the devil's best friends, who think they are doing God a service in that way, that they kill the disciples of Jesus. Through such people the beginning of persecution comes. They must be from the Libertinian synagogue and the Cyrenian and Alexandrian synagogues who first became angry with Stephen. When these devil's slaves cannot hold their own in disputing with Stephen, then they incite the people, scribes, Pharisees and chief priests upon the Christians, and then they seek for six mark men for witnesses that Stephen has spoken against the law and against the faith of Moses and Luther. What God is it that these leeches serve, who think they are doing God a service when they kill Jesus' disciples? It must be that god who lives in the lower heaven, where the fire of the brimstone of sin burns, from which the persecutors of Christians fetch fire with which they can see to make sausages of Christians' blood. Do you not yet understand, you persecutors of Christians, what a terrible torment awaits you when the blood of the Christians must burn your consciences forever, and the tears of the Christians must trouble your consciences, and the sighs of the Christians must ring in your ears? When the blood of the righteous Abel cries vengeance over the murderer of his brother, then all of Gain's carnal brothers and cousins must flee from before the face of God and cry out like the murderer Cain, "My punishment is more than I can bear." And so the brother's murderers can cry out in all eternity, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." Amen.