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Herberger Translation for Trinity 21 – John 4:46-54

by pastorjuhl ~ October 19th, 2010

This from Mr. Matthew Carver:

This is my translation of Valerius Herberger, from Geistliche Herzenslust und -Freude.

JESUS, the noble, precious Crown of our faith, arranges for the nobleman to come to Him by true faith, teaches him how to pray and hope under the cross, chastens him strictly, but in the end gladdens him with His help.

“They say to the tree, Thou art my father, and to the stone, Thou didst beget me. For they turn their back to Me, and not their face. But when trouble comes, they say, Arise and help us!” (Jer. 2:27).

Today, dear Christian heart, learn how heartily and splendidly the nobleman of Capernaum prays: O Lord, when there is sadness, Thou art sought out, and when Thou chastenest us, then do we cry in anguish. Tribulation alone teaches us to mark the Word. O Lord, when Thou chastenest a man on account of his sin, then is his beauty consumed away like a moth. Ah, how are all men as nothing! Selah. O Lord, our iniquity hast Thou set before Thee, our unacknowledged sin hast Thou set in the light before Thy face. O Lord, who can mark how often he errs? Pardon my hidden errors!  If Thou, O Lord, shouldest make a record of sin, O Lord, who shall stand? For with Thee there is forgiveness, that Thou mayest be feared. O Lord, Thou art merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and of great goodness. Yet, O Lord, Thy heartfelt mercy seems hard against me. O Lord, how long wilt Thou forget me thus? How long wilt Thou hide Thy countenance from me? How long shall I grieve in my soul, and be oppressed daily within my heart? My God, my God! never in all the days of my life did I conceive that I should fall into such misery, that I should cry for so long, and Thou wouldest not save me. I say unto God, my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why must I walk in such sorrow? Rouse Thee, O Lord! why sleepest Thou? Awake, and cast me not off so completely; why concealest Thou Thy face? Hast Thou forgotten my misery and oppression? I speak with my heart; my spirit is made to examine. Shall the Lord cast me off eternally, and show me grace no more? Is His lovingkindness used up and his promise at an end? Has God forgotten to be gracious, and foreclosed his mercy for werath? Selah. The Lord has forgotten me, the Lord has forgotten me. Why wilt Thou thus forget me, and thus long forsake me? Come down, Oh Lord, I pray, and help my son, for he lieth sick unto death.

Now, as he approaches the Lord Jesus, and everything is about to be restored, it has never been so bad as at that hour. The Lord seems aloof and unkind, and gives him a good lesson: Unless ye see signs and wonders, ye believe not. (Ye Jews believe not more than ye see. If I should go up with thee, then wouldest thou think that I could not help thy son. But what manner of faith is this? To have true faith means to have no doubt whatsoever in that which is unseen, and to be thus assured of the omnipotence and lovingkindness of God, that He is able and willing to save, even beyond and counter to all sense and reason. Thy faith is too weak and too little; yea, would that thou, like the officer, might believe that even being absent I am able to save with but a word and a thought!)

The nobleman does not cease to pray, he does not grow angry or impatient that Christ demurs so long; he is not vexed thereby, but rather continues to pray. Ah, how piteous are his words, Ah, Lord, faithful Lord, Thou hast never been so contrary in all Thy life. Oh, come down, relent, before my child dies, for else shall Thy presence be in vain. Oh Lord, leave off to speak so unkindly; Thou wilt dissuade my heart. Now is the faith of my heart little, like the grain of a mustard seed; now is it like to become a smoldering wick, and lacks not much ere it is wholly snuffed out; my heart lies upon the burning coals of the cross, it burns because it is so harshly tormented by long-enduring misery; it is in great peril for that Thou art so long in thought. Oh Lord, come, Oh Lord, come, before my son dies, and do not turn away; I will not let thee alone. Oh God, help that his heart not change toward me.

Now hear further, dear heart, how the true Christian faith always overcomes and is never put to shame. The nobleman carries himself as a knight as touching his faith, wherefore the storm at least clears away just as his heart desires. The Lord Jesus says, Go up (at this My Word, on which thou shouldest set firm faith, for there needs no traveling on My part, but My heart and word has already accomplished it), thy son liveth; he is not dead, as thou thinkest; but by the divine power of My word, when thou comest home, thou wilt find him alive and well. Thy faith, which has helped thee, is also to live and rejoice. As soon as the Lord Jesus says, Go up, thy son liveth, he believed it firmly; and though his heart should say nothing but, Nay, yet is he all the more assured of that Word. O Lord, I believe, yet help my weakness. Oh, dear Son of God, with weak faith, yet genuine, I cry to Thee like the Canaanite woman, “Lord, save me!” and like the holy Apostles, “Lord, increase the faith in us.” Why art thou downcast, O my soul, and so restless within me? Trust in God, for I shall yet thank Him, because He is the help of my countenance, and my God. For the word of the Lord is true, and whatso He pledges, he keeps it certainly. Heaven and earth pass away, but His words pass not away.

Thus the man believed the word that Jesus spoke unto him, and went up (in certain confidence that the Lord’s saying would unmistakably come to pass); nor did he for that reason hasten too quickly after the crowd, which he might well have overtaken that same evening, had he so wished, but rather stayed the night on the way). And as he continued the second day, his servants found him, and agreed exactly with Christ, saying, Thy child liveth. Everything is explained to him in the clearest manner: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him, and he recovered. Then the father takes note after diligent searching and questioning, and discovered rightly that that was the same hour in which Jesus had said to him, Thy son liveth, and [he] had recovered.

Lest the gracious work of the Lord Jesus be forgotten, [the nobleman] believed together with his whole household; his wife, children, and workers hereby were brought to the true faith in Christ. He said unto his house-folk: Know this. If any man, to the pleasure of the scribes of Jerusalem, should speak scornfully of this Lord, I will not have that man under my roof; he is not worthy to eat my bread; ye are all to act accordingly; this and naught else do I desire. Just as I account so much of [this Lord], so shall ye all be favorable to Him also. Such of you therefore as heed me, that I have faith in the Lord, enter mine house and dwell there. Whoso believeth, let him not run away. I believe, wherefore I speak. Whereof the heart is full the mouth overflows. The bottom of the heart spills into the mouth. The true faith is not the artifice of men, nor a thing of everyman’s, but God’s gift. For it is a certain confidence of that which is hoped for, and does not doubt that which is not seen. Therefore, O Lord, since we have heard of the faith that ye have in your hearts for the Lord Jesus, we also believe according to the working of His mighty strength, how He has thereby so splendidly revealed His unfathomable divine power in you, that He has worked faith in your hearts. Through the same Christ we also have boldness and access to God the Father in all confidence, that we may approach Him confidently with all assurance in our prayer, and may call on Him as our dear Father by faith in Him, which bold confidence in prayer by faith rests on Christ. What more shall we say, if such might consolation is available to us in our cross? If God is for us, since we have Him on our side, who can be against us, who will be able to harm us in any way, or prevail against us? This consolation all faithful hearts possess, that they shall live to see the end of all tribulation. Therefore the Lord Jesus ssays, Have I not said unto you, if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? Rejoice and be of good cheer, dear faithful hearts, let not faithful hope be put to scorn. Blessed are all they that trust in Him. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed. Behold the example of the ancients, and mark them; who was ever put to shame that hoped in Him. Who was ever forsaken that abode in the fear of God? Or who was ever despised that called upon Him? Therefore John says, Our faith is the victory which has overcome the world (and all the misfortune with which the world is filled). And this honor is had not only by the great faith as of a champion, but also by a small, weak, faith as of a mustard seed; for the latter stands with the former upon the same foundation, and has the clear pledge: The Lord Jesus shall not snuff out the smoldering wick nor break the bruised reed. And if ye had faith as a mustard seed, though ye were hemmed round about with mountains of distress through which ye might see no escape, yet ye would be plucked safely out and set loose from every trouble. A little faith is better than no faith. This is a golden saying.

May the noble Crown of our faith, Jesus Christ, help that our faith, formed by the Word of God through the working of the Holy Ghost, may be of a goodly nature, that it not despair in any tribulation, but be strengthened in every weakness, and trust boldly in the divine Word, bravely conquer in every trouble, shine with every virtue in brilliant light, follow Christ, mark Christ’s gracious work, and tolerate nothing else save what Christ holds dear, that it may be improved in every misery, that our soul may live, and that we may obtain the end of faith—everlasting salvation. Amen! Amen!

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