18th Sunday after Trinity.
"The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Psalm 110:1.
The Saviour has explained these words of David about himself and has shown that David's words show the godly nature of Christ. Since the Jews incorrectly understood the words of the Scriptures and perverted the prophets' promises of the coming Saviour, then they imagined that Christ would become an earthly king, as man always understands the Word of God wrongly when his heart is fastened to the world; he then wants to turn spiritual matters completely backwards. Those matters which pertain to spiritual life, he applies to natural life, and that which pertains to the soul of man, natural man wants to apply to the body. Thus the Jews had wrongly comprehended the prophets' promises of the Messiah.
When the prophets had formerly said that the Messiah or Christ shall sit on David's throne and that there would be no end of His kingdom, then the Jews thought that Christ would become an earthly king and take the whole world under Himself. And this false presumption was also in the skull of the disciples until that day when the Saviour ascended into heaven. Thus the heart of honorable roan is so fastened to the world that he cannot wait for any other Saviour than only an earthly Saviour who would make him fortunate in this world. Now Christ wanted to turn the thoughts of the Jews away from an earthly Saviour and get them to believe that Christ, or the Saviour, who was promised to mankind in the Scriptures, cannot be only an earthly king, or such a Saviour who helps from natural distress, but especially one spiritual king and Saviour of the soul. When even David by the prompting of the Holy Spirit had spoken of Christ in the 110th psalm and said: "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." This signifies: God said to the Saviour: "Sit thou at my right hand, until all the enemies of Christianity must bow themselves to the dust before thee." But the Jews did not understand these words of David, from which the Saviour took a testimony of the godly nature of Christ. And so it probably happens even now that all Jews who believe upon one earthly Saviour, do not understand how Christ is David's Lord and David's son. The Jews always believe upon an earthly Saviour. They believe that the Saviour upholds their natural lives, that he makes them rich and lords in the world. They believe that through the Saviour they shall gain riches, honor, and good days. The Jews also believe that after death they will go into Abraham's bosom, although they drink, curse and fight, conduct a liquor business and are ardent after the world, take a large gain for their trouble and merchandise, and hate the Christians who, in the mind of the Jews, are false prophets and possessed of evil spirits. The Jews argue against it when someone wants to show with the words of the Scripture that Jesus, whom they have killed through sin, unbelief and iniquity, sits on the right hand of God until all the enemies of Christianity will become a footstool for the Saviour. A part of the Jews who hate the Christians will finally be won when they themselves get troubled in conscience and then they must bow their knees in Jesus' name and in this way become a footstool for the Saviour. A part of the Jews harden more through Christianity and fall even deeper into hell than they are by nature. Then they also become a footstool for the Saviour when they fall under His feet in hell. In this way all are finally won, both the Jews and the heathens who are the enemies of the Saviour. Some have to bow their neck under the Saviour's yoke when a spiritual compulsion or demand of the conscience drives them to beg for grace. Some again who are hardened, are trampled by the Saviour like a footstool down into hell, when their conscience begins to testify that they would have become saved if the spiritual hatred toward the Christians had not hardened their hearts. When, namely, the Christians speak the truth to the Jews, as Stephen: "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost", then the Jews are so severely angered that they gnash their teeth. These blind wretches do not understand that because of this spiritual hatred toward the Christians, they sink so deep into hell that God is not able to pull them up.
There are yet many Jews and heathens who are enemies of the cross of Jesus, although in these times they are scattered, namely the Jews whose rule is soon ended. They must now, like shameful dogs, avoid the Christians' eyes; and they still have their old faith that this Christianity, which through Jesus has spread in the world, is nothing other than superstition and the deception of the devil. The Jews have had feelings about this, that they must live as strangers in the midst of the Christians and that their former rule has ended. But they have the hope that they will get revenge on the Christians when the Saviour comes, whose coming they await, when they imagine that they will come into power. Those heathens who live among the Christians are also very angry at the Christians; but the faith of the heathens is this, that they will become saved through their meekness. Heathens do not steal as much grace as Jews, but they nevertheless are enemies of the cross of Jesus and in a totally heathen land where only heathens live, there is the same kind of life as was here formerly. There they drink, there they curse, there they fight; on Sunday they drink, play and dance, and from that the lust of adultery is finally kindled, but just the same they imagine they will become saved. The heathens know nothing of the Saviour, they have only heard the Saviour's name, but that is all. And how can the heathens believe upon the Saviour when they trust upon their meekness, although their life is an ungodly life? But they do not know their sins and they know nothing of penitence and repentance. Who has preached to them of true penitence and repentance? By no means do heathen pastors or Jewish pastors preach so that the people would awaken. When heathen pastors themselves have the belief that Christianity is a superstition and the effect of the devil's spirit, how can they then so preach that the people would know themselves? The heathen pastors preach much of meekness and love, but of true penitence, repentance, and new birth, they never preach. Since there are still so many heathens in the world now, both baptized and unbaptized, who do not know the Saviour, we must preach so that the heathens can hear that in their heathenism they are going on the wrong road. We hope and pray that David's son who is also David's Lord, would through His word, give both the Jews and the heathens the enlightenment that they would come to understand how David's son is also David's Lord, who gives to all the penitent, grace and joy and peace and power and strength to travel, strive and long, cry and knock, sigh and pray that Jesus, the Son of David, would have mercy on them and help them in the great war and struggle of death, so that the devil, the world, and their own flesh would not be able to entice them. Hear the prayer of all the humble and distressed ones, Our Father and so forth.
The Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46.
In the latter part of our holy gospel the Saviour speaks of His godly nature where by we have a fitting occasion to consider how David's son is David's Lord. First consideration: Why do the Jews and heathens not believe that David's son is David's Lord? Second consideration: Why do all those who are in distress believe that David's son is David's Lord? May God grant His grace that all Jews and heathens would turn to the Son of David, so that they too would come to know that David's son is also David's Lord, and that all who cry: "Jesus thou son of David, have mercy upon us!", could get to know His godly power to help and raise them up from hell!
First consideration: Why do the Jews and heathens not believe that David's son is David's Lord? Through natural birth the Saviour was born of David's lineage.. This all Jews know and some evangelists have therefore listed the lineage of the Saviour from generation to generation so that the Jews would believe that Mary's son is truly the son of David, as the prophets have formerly written. Now the Jews surely believe that Jesus is the son of David, or that according to the flesh He is born of David's lineage, as the prophets have testified. But how this son of David is also David's Lord, this the Jews do not understand, as we heard in today's gospel. Since now the Jews do not understand how David's son is David's Lord, then neither do they believe that David's son is David's Lord. This unbelief of the Jews comes from this, that they await an earthly Saviour who will feed them for nothing. They feel bodily hunger and bodily poverty, but the hunger of the soul they do not feel. Therefore they willingly believe upon such a Saviour who would have great worldly goods, so that he would be able to make all rich. To such a rich and honorable lord all the world's poor would come to beg for help; all the world's lords would go to him to eat and drink prepared substance. All who through drunkenness and laziness have squandered their own goods would go to him to beg for money to borrow. Said in a word: for that reason all who need to eat and drink but do not care to work for their living, would gladly take such a man for a Saviour who would feed them for nothing. And the son of David would surely be suitable as such a Saviour if He, namely, would win the whole world under him and become a king for the Jews. But such a Saviour, who has nothing other to give them than God's word, is not suitable as a Saviour to the Jews nor to the heathens. And this is the real reason why the Jews cannot believe that David's son is David's Lord. When a person is fastened to the world, he awaits such a Saviour who will feed him for nothing. He longs for such a Saviour who can help him from all natural distress. But such a Saviour who helps from spiritual distress is, according to the mind of the natural man, unnecessary. When natural man is not in any spiritual distress, then he does not understand to long for a spiritual Saviour. "He does not feel that he needs such a Saviour who will help his soul from the torments of hell. If the Jews would be in spiritual distress or in pain of conscience, then they would sooner believe that David's son is also David's Lord, or God. For the Son of David can, as an earthly king, help the poor from natural distress, but from spiritual distress or pain of conscience, none other than God can help, therefore David's son must also be David's Lord. He must be greater and more powerful than David. David in the spirit called him Lord, because David, who was often in pain of conscience, felt that his son would not have been suitable as the Saviour of sinners, if he would have been only a man. But the Jews whose best treasure is in the world, and to whom pain of conscience does not come because they are grace thieves, do not long for nor do not feel that they need a spiritual Saviour who would save their souls from the torments of hell. Therefore they do not understand that the Son of David or Christ, who was promised by the prophets as a Saviour, shall be David's Lord, or greater and more powerful than David. The Jews' bosom sin is greed or love of the world. The Saviour and all the prophets reprove the Jews of greed; they devour the houses of widows and orphans, teach children to steal the livelihood of the parents and try in every way to gain worldly goods, with deceit, craftiness and whiskey trade. They charge as high a price for their trouble and goods as it is possible to get. If they must exchange money, then they take payment even for that. They are good at helping such needy ones from whom they think they will receive a double gain. But if they have to help such poor from whom they would get nothing, then they say: "Go to the Christians!" Surely, for this reason, the Jews are honorable in sacrificing to the church and in inviting guests to drinking parties. They serve whiskey to all the travelers who are of the same faith and same lineage as the Jews. To there also come self-righteousness and outward meekness, finery in dress, stateliness in behavior. They are hypocrites, they bear high and great thoughts of themselves, they consider themselves so holy that they do not keep company with heathens, and they cannot stand to see the Christians before their eyes at all. The Jews are also grace thieves when they own for themselves God's promises of grace, although they are uncircumcised at heart. They carry the mark of outward Christianity or dead faith in their flesh, but since the heart has never been circumcised, they are hypocrites. There is Christianity in the skull, but in the heart there is heathenism. Therefore the Jews cannot believe that David's son is David's Lord. Namely, since they are fastened to the world, they cannot believe that a spiritual Saviour is more necessary than a natural Saviour.
The Jews do believe upon an earthly Saviour, but the heathens, who base their salvation upon meekness, know nothing of the Saviour. They, on the other hand, have the belief that man's meekness should be acceptable to God. The heathens do not need to steal as much grace as the Jews. Namely, when the heathens have the belief that man's meekness should not be in vain, then they also try to live meekly; they better their life and with this betterment they imagine that they are acceptable to God. The smaller sins they do not hold to be a sin. They make the smaller sins allowable: moderate drunkenness, moderate cursing, moderate hatred, moderate greed — all of these are made allowable by the heathens. And since the heathens have natural virtue as the foundation of salvation, they bypass the Saviour, and thus do not believe that David's son is David's Lord. For that reason the heathens certainly trust in the Saviour in a natural way; they believe that the Saviour sustains their natural life, and so the Jews also believe. But what does this faith help them when they know nothing of spiritual life? Therefore we now hear why the Jews and heathens are not able to believe that David's son is David's Lord, or why they do not believe that the Man who traveled in the land of Judaea is the heavenly Parent who has created us. The Jews do not believe for the reason that they love the world and always await an earthly Saviour, through whom they would get rich and become lords in the world. All Jews truly believe that the awaited Saviour will help them from all natural distress, and through this dead faith which is in their skull, they also believe that they are children of God since they are circumcized and eat the lamb of the Passover, although in the heart they are uncircumcized. The, heathens know nothing of the Saviour, for they trust upon their meekness and thus do not feel that they need a Saviour. How can the Jews and heathens long for a spiritual Saviour, when they never have spiritual distress or pains of conscience? When do the Jews have pains of conscience? They do have spiritual hatred, but not penitence and pain of conscience.
Second consideration: Why do all who are in spiritual distress cry, "Jesus thou son of David, have mercy on us"? Both the Jews and the heathens cried when they were in distress, "Jesus thou son of David, have mercy on us!" If these distressed ones would have had a doubt that David's son did not have the power of God to help, then they would not have cried out so pitifully after Him. But distress compelled them to cry out, and distress also taught them to believe that David's son had the power of God to help. So it is also in a spiritual sense. As long as man does not have spiritual distress, as long as a sinner is able to carry his burden, that long he gets along without the Saviour. When the heart has not yet truly broken and been made humble, even the awakened man seeks many by ways and wants to bypass the Saviour. Self-righteousness pushes such thoughts into the heart that he is not worthy to come to the Saviour in such a poor and miserable condition before he has improved his heart. But when the burden of sin becomes so heavy that a sinner is no longer able to bear his burden, then he must begin to cry: "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me and take away this burden of sin which presses me into hell." But would a penitent sinner go to Jesus if he did not have the faith and assurance that David's son is also David's Lord? If a penitent soul did not have the assurance that this Jesus, who was born in such great poverty of David's lineage, is the Creator Himself, the heavenly Parent who has given us life — if one penitent sinner would begin to so think as the wise of the world, who say that Jesus is not God, but He is a remarkable man to whom God has given more intelligence than to Other men — if, say I, one penitent soul would begin to think so, that the Saviour is not God Himself, but only like God, then that penitent soul would in no way go to Him, but he would go directly to the Father and bypass the Saviour. Thus do all the worldly wise, they go past the Saviour directly to God, They are not able to believe that the Saviour is God Himself, the Creator Himself, although the Saviour has said that no man cometh unto the Father but by Him, that the Father and the Saviour are one and that he who sees the Saviour sees the Father. This a penitent soul must know, that David's son is also David's Lord, that no one is greater, higher, or mightier than He, and that no man cometh unto the Father but by Him. If, say I, a penitent soul does not have the complete faith and confidence that Jesus is David's Lord and God over all, Creator and Parent who has given him life, then a penitent soul would have no other way out than to go to destruction. But when a penitent soul has the complete assurance that his Creator, his Parent, and the One who has given him birth has suffered such great pain and tribulation when He has given birth to him and other unthankful children, who by their ungodly lives have caused Him such great anguish and tribulation and have mocked their Parent's tears, then a penitent soul has no doubt of this, that the heavenly Parent does have the desire and power to help penitent souls from their tribulation. But the penitent ones consider themselves unworthy to come before the heavenly Parent's eyes. They fear that the heavenly Parent no longer cares about them when they have become so filthy. The devil of self righteousness accuses them that they are whores and thieves and murderers, and the conscience also testifies that they are such. How do they then dare to become a footstool for the Savior when self-righteousness demands that they must become like angels before they approach God. If the devil of adultery and the devil of greed and the devil of hatred would cease tempting them, then they could better believe that the Saviour would receive them. But these devil's angels do not cease tempting the awakened ones as long as life remains in them. And then self-righteousness says, "The Saviour does not care about such who have seven devils in their flesh; man must become better before he is worthy to come to Jesus." But if you awakened one do not go to the Saviour such as you are, along with the devils, then you will never become free from the devil's power. When the devil begins to torment you, then go to Jesus and cry as did the woman of Canaan: "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me! My soul is grievously vexed with the devil!" Go to Jesus, you man possessed by evil spirits, and cry out! He will drive the Legion out of you and will make them go into the swineherd; and the swineherd, which here walks in the pasture, is suitable to carry the devils into the lake of fire. But those few, who are tormented by the devil and tempted in every way, shall become freed from them, when Jesus comes with His grace and with His word to drive out the devil's angels who tempt them. And our hope is that He shall drive the seven devils out of Mary Magdalene's heart: when she with a broken heart prays the great Crossbearer and Thorn-crowned King that He would drive out all devils which torment her. She shall afterwards show her thankfulness to Jesus and pour costly spikenard ointment upon His head; and finally when Jesus dies, she shall pour out tears of love and longing upon His grave, and the great Cross-bearer shall again appear living before her eyes, and she shall take Him about His feet and embrace Him. Amen.