Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sermon B
"Give and it shall be given unto you; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." Luke 6:37,38
In today's gospel, along with other teachings and counsel, our Saviour has spoken these words which pertain to spiritual matters when they are understood rightly.
The first teaching: "Give and it shall be given unto you," also pertains to natural generosity or helping one´s neighbor, which in itself is necessary. But since generosity is not suitable for a foundation of salvation, for the reason that a Christian has so little love that he cannot give of love, but from the demand of the conscience, so the old man is reluctant in that helping, especially for the reason that he earns nothing from that assisting. The poor surely often have such a faith that God will repay many thousand times what is given to them, although the sorrowless poor of this time are without conscience and unthankful. They know neither good nor bad, and they have the measure of Christianity in their colon. They measure the Christianity with the measure of their own colon, and he is a good Christian who helps the poor. Nor do they inquire if there are means to help or not, but they want to take as by force, as though they have the right to receive. Therefore it is hard to give to such ones who are never satisfied, but the more they get, the more they want. Therefore such needy ones do not testify that the Christians have shown fruits of faith. But the Christians help, nevertheless, according to their means, although the sorrowless poor do not say anymore as they did before in the time of sorrowlessness, "May God reward you. Many thanks and may God repay you a thousand times." The Christians in Luther's kingdom cannot believe that God will take them into everlasting habitations for the reason that they have helped the poor. But the Catholics surely build their salvation much upon that, that they have helped the poor, as also the sorrowless here build their salvation upon that, that they have helped the poor. For such have often told the Christians, "I have helped the poor more than you have."
Another word: "Forgive and ye shall be forgiven." It truly belongs to true Christianity: for the sorrowless cannot forgive from the heart, although they say, "I have forgiven you long ago." True Christians can forgive from the heart, and for that reason forgiveness is promised to them, when they crawl before the mercy seat with a penitent and believing heart. To those who from the heart forgive people their trespasses; to them forgiveness is promised. Even if people do not forgive, God nevertheless forgives the penitent their trespasses, when they come to pray with a humble and broken heart, to ask and plead for mercy from Him. But the devil of self-righteousness preaches to the penitent that God does not forgive their sins when they commit sin every day with thoughts, lusts, and desires. If, say I, the penitent ones believe what self-righteousness preaches to them, they will be left without grace and without salvation. Believe now, you penitent and doubting souls, that God forgives your sins and transgressions. Nevertheless, you have no other refuge than with that great Crossbearer and thorn-crowned King, who has not spared one single drop of blood, which He has not allowed to flow for the redemption of your souls. Oh hear, you great Forgiver and eternal Pardoner, the sigh of the penitent, sorrowful, and doubting ones. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Luke 6:36-42
In accordance with the above-read holy gospel, at this holy moment through God's grace, we want to bring forth these words of Jesus to the penitent: "Forgive and ye shall be forgiven," if they can: reconcile these words to themselves and own them with a believing heart.
The first consideration: How many times must a Christian forgive his brother? Peter once asked, "How many times must I forgive? Is that not enough when I forgive him seven times?" At that time Peter had such trials that a person is not always able to forgive. But that was a natural person's trial. If a person tries his nature, he certainly feels that he is not always able to forgive. But the Saviour said to Peter, "That is not yet enough, that a person would forgive his brother seven times, but seventy seven times must he forgive." This was a harsh answer, not only to Peter, but it is given to all Christians, and let the Christians now try themselves, if they think that they are able to forgive their brother that many times. First, there is this trial, if a Christian is able to believe such to be a Christian who transgresses against him so many times. For this word "brother" signifies a brother in faith, as peter understood that they are brothers in faith, who are born of Abraham's seed and who have the same kind of faith- Peter had heard that expounding of the Scriptures of the scribes, and from them he took this question: "How many times must I forgive? Is it not enough that I have forgiven him seven times, namely, to my brother?" The scribes had, namely, that faith that a Christian need not forgive the gentiles. But now when such an answer was given to Peter, that seventy times and seven must he forgive his brother, then Peter received such a blow that even the intellect was taken aback. And now this trial is put before the Christians, if they think they are able to believe that such a one is a Christian who transgresses against him so many times, and secondly if they think they can forgive so many times. I think that there is truly needed such a faith that the old Adam be crucified and mortified daily, otherwise not one can be so patient. Now the Christian, through daily penitence and repentance, can begin to mortify the old Adam, so that he can be able to forgive his brother as much as God is able to forgive him and bear his sins. For the Christians must themselves feel that they certainly transgress against God seventy-seven times a day. If the Christians truly know themselves, they must confess that they transgress against God daily as many times as is now said.
The second consideration: "Forgive and ye shall be forgiven." If it is difficult for a Christian to forgive those who always intentionally do evil, they can from that surmise how much more God can suffer the weaknesses of the Christians, and He must also be able to forgive what Christians transgress against Him with thoughts, lusts, and desires, not only seven times, but seventy seven times a day. If watchful Christians do not commit willful sins, they certainly have so much sins of weakness, that if a Christian were judged according to merit, then not even one Christian soul would be saved. But God must suffer the weaknesses of the Christians, and forgive as often as they ask, beg and pray to Him, although the accuser always stands before God's throne and accuses the Christians that they commit sin repeatedly, and reproaches the Heavenly Parent because of the children, saying, "Beautiful children you have, whores and thieves!" But what can He do about that, when He Himself has given His life for them and sweat blood in their behalf, and suffered the torment and tribulation of hell in their stead. He can say nothing else to the accuser, than He has said right after the fall into sin, that the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent. However, surely the children of God are whores and thieves, they are also murderers. But for such whores and thieves and murderers, the Son of God has suffered the pain and tribulation of hell. He has not come to save the pious but the sinners. As long as the penitent whores and penitent thieves accept the Son of God as an advocate before the Father, so long the accuser cannot rebuke the Father, no matter how the accuser accuses them. But as soon as the penitent begin to answer for themselves, then they are lost. When the accuser, through the intellect, depicts to the penitent that the Son of God cannot answer for them, but that a person himself must answer, then the enemy has won his goal. When he turns their eyes as toward the world, he shows them all the honor of the world, then the accuser has gained his intention. Then he preaches to the believing ones through the intellect: "You will not become saved no matter how you try, look rather into the world, then you will receive peace of conscience." First he makes light-mindedness allowable to the youth, through which the sorrow ends, namely that sorrow which is after the mind of God. Then finery and worldly-mindedness become allowable, and finally adultery becomes allowable. When, in this way, they have caused sorrow to the Spirit of God, then He leaves and finally they become seven times worse than they were in sorrowlessness. From that we see that it is not easy to become saved. But we have that hope and trust in God, that those few souls who yet are striving in their most precious faith, can receive that assurance that God will forgive their sins of weakness which they commit with thoughts, lusts, and desires, if they are able to believe so much that they would win the temptations. As long as the enemy accuses them that they are whores and thieves, or as long as they remain in self-knowledge, as long as sin is felt to be sin, so long the penitent and believing ones feel that they cannot answer for themselves. But as soon as the consciousness of sin ceases, they receive such a power from the devil, that they can answer for themselves. But pray now, journeymen to eternity, that the Lord through His great grace would forgive you what you transgress every day against Him, and remember that your time of warfare is not long anymore! To them it is long, who do not travel while there is light. But it is not long for those who travel in the daytime and struggle with all the beasts which come on the way against the travelers, to scare and tempt them. The Son of God has promised to be the Advocate to the penitent and believing ones, who are not able to answer for themselves. Have you now taken Him for your advocate? Have you borne gifts to the Judge? You know that the accuser is terrible at accusing you, you penitent and believing ones. But be of good refuge, the Chief Judge will receive gifts and will turn the judgement so that the whores and the thieves and the murderers will be freed. And that great Advocate before the Father, who has taken upon Himself the matter, will stop the mouth of the accuser, when the defendants are so dumb that they can answer nothing. Bear gifts to the Judge, you dumb defendants, and pray to that great Advocate that He would not become weary of pleading your case, until the judgement is proclaimed. Who knows, soon the end will come, soon the judgement will fall, soon you will reach peace and joy, when the accuser is cast out, and then all the defendants can thank the Advocate eternally, who has redeemed and releived them of all accountability now and forever. Amen.