- Zechariah 9:9–12
- Psalm 145:1–14
- Romans 7:14–25a
- Matthew 11:25–30
God's Word and Luther's thought, from here unto eternity taught.
We are all born deaf and blind. Hearing, we do not hear; and seeing, we do not see. We know God’s Law, for it is written on our hearts — our consciences accuse us when we stray. We are all without excuse. We have become futile in our thinking, for we sin in thought; we have become futile in our speaking, for we sin in word; and we have become futile in our doing, for we sin in deed.
Why do we test God? Has not our Father told us that He watches over and cares for us? And yet we doubt. At Meribah, the Jews grumbled against Moses because they did not trust God. In the words of Moses: “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”
Abram was called forth from Ur of the Chaldeans; he was called to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house; he was called to sojourn in a land he would never own, except for a small plot of land with a cave — a cave in which he would bury his wife, and in which his children would later bury him. And what did he find in this land? Canaanites — the cursed progeny of cursed Ham. Although their iniquity was not yet “complete” in the time of Abraham, they would later be sentenced to annihilation. Does that mean these tribes were good in the time of Abraham? Were they more Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner or were they more Sodom and Gomorrah? From God’s words to Abraham in Genesis 15, we must presume the latter.
Why do we baptize infants? We could say that it is the historical practice of the Church, that only a tiny — if vocal — minority oppose infant Baptism, and that Scripture commands it — ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ — and commends it — ‘Baptism … now saves you.’ — but let us go deeper and further back. Let us go back to a Garden, somewhere in the Near East, and a Tree with fruit and a snake. In Adam all men sinned, and do not fall prey to the temptation to minimize this — original sin is not merely a predisposition or the inherited consequences of our forebears’ sin. Original sin is actual sin and it dooms as surely as murder, adultery, and theft. We all die — ‘For thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return.’ — because the wages of sin is death, and we are all sinners.
Yesterday, with ashes imposed upon your foreheads, many of you were forced to confront your fallen, sinful state and the mortality that flows from the same: ‘For thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return.’
The great ‘promise’ of the Law is ‘if…, then…’. “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, / who walk in the Law of the Lord!” “Blessed are those” who are “blameless”, “who keep His testimonies”, “who seek Him with their whole heart”, “who … do no wrong”, and who “walk in His ways”. But what are His testimonies? The Jews contend that there are six hundred and thirteen mitzvot — commandments — in the Torah, but let us not concern ourselves with such enumerations, for God Himself provides us a full statement of His Law in the Ten Commandments.
Some contend that it is possible to be ‘good without God’. We may find this appealing. Surely if we loose the bonds of oppression, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked — if we fill full the mouth of famine and bid the sickness cease — then God will notice our goodness and be pleased with us, no? No. We are told in Scripture that our good deeds — our good works — are as "polluted garment[s]" (ESV) or "filthy rags" (KJV), and, yet, neither of these translations is sufficient.