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Walther on Trinity 3

by pastorjuhl ~ June 24th, 2009

Does Christ make absolutely no difference among sinners? Yes, there is one difference, but not such as the world makes…. God looks above all at the heart. The most serious sins which a person can commit are the transgressions of the first three commandments. If no true fear, love, and trust in God lives in the heart of man, if he is proud and self-righteous, and if he lives for himself, he is the most distant of all from God, even if outwardly he walks ever so decorously. The veneer of worldly respectability is worth nothing in God’s eyes.

Christ makes a far different distinction among sinners. Of course, He seeks all sinners, but He seeks those the most carefully and loves those the most tenderly who begin to perceive their sins, become frightened because of their wanderings, despair of themselves, and heartily desire to be shown the true way. Such were the publicans and sinners who according to our Gospel drew near to Christ, for it says of them: they drew near to hear Him. Them Christ cannot push away, even if the whole world takes offense. To take pity on them is Christ’s joy and pleasure, even if they have fallen into the greatest, most manifest, and outrageous sins….

Thus you see, my friends, what a friend of sinners Christ is. He seeks all lost. He deems no one too wicked. He is ashamed of no one, and because those who have fallen into manifest sins always come first of all to the knowledge of their sinfulness and unworthiness, He shows Himself especially gracious and friendly to them.

Oh, my friends, what comfort this is! From this you see that there is not one of us whom the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, does not seek; Christ bears all of us on His heart; He has followed us from the first moment of our life with His mercy; He would like to bring all of  us back to His Father and finally gather us into His heaven, and with the eyes of the most tender love He looks especially at those of us who have perceived their wanderings. He does not count the multitude, greatness, and grievousness of our sins in order thus to apportion the grace which He would show us; He merely asks whether we are sinners, whether we are lost and strayed. That alone moves Him to receive us (Old Standard Gospels, p. 224-225).

That all the straying might hear this blessed voice of the Gospel, Christ did not send only the holy apostles in to all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature. He also established the holy ministry by which the Shepherd-voice of Christ should sound abraod until the end of days. Christ leads people in most wonderful ways so that they get to hear the voice of their Good Shepherd in the desert of the world. To many Christ gives parents, who through Baptism laid them, even as infants, in the arms of their Good Shepherd. From their youth up Christ gave them to drink of the sweet mild of the Gospel. Others Christ led into shcools in which the young lambs are led on the pasture of the Gospel. Christ leads others, who at first wander about in the world without a knowledge of Christ and perhaps were reared in a false religion, to find Christian books, or a Christian friend, who pointed them to Christ, or a Christ spouse, and the like. Or, if the pure Gospel is not preached in their hometown or their country, Christ in a wonderful way often so directs their lives that the lost must go to another city or even another land, where they finally come to hear Christ’s voice and are found by Him.

Yet Christ’s seeking embraces even more. Since most of those, who hear Christ’s voice, have become so fond of their wrong way, that they might not leave it, Christ is not merely concerned that His Gospel is known to all the lost. they are also awakened and moved to leave their wrong way. Christ takes the destiny of all men into His hands, by which He seeks them until He finds them. Many a person’s heart clings to money and especially earthly goods. Christ then lets him remain poor or become poor again, that he might yearn for heavenly riches. Another seeks his heaven in good days and a comfortable life. Christ then sends him all manner of crosses, sicknesses, pains, and the like, in order that he might seek his true joy in Christ. Another person’s heart clings to honor. Christ lets him fall into shame and contempt. Another’s heart clings to his wife, children, good friends, and the like. Christ then thakes them from him and lets him weep at the grave of his loved ones. In other words, Christ ever guides him that he is torn from those worldly things, which might hold him back. He makes the world bitter, and awakens him to let himself be found by Christ. All the vicissitudes of life are therefore ways on which Christ goes to meet him (p. 226).

Then consider this: Jesus receives sinners, He seeks the lost. You can become unfaithful, Jesus is and remains faithful to you. You could forget Him, but He could never forget you. He says: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). You could break the covenant of your Holy Baptism, Jesus has not broken it and can never break it, no matter how rebellious and unfaithful you have been. See, even now He has sought you again. He has again called to you: Come, you poor lost soul! Oh, do not hesitate but say: You can have me, faithful Shepherd, just as I am. You will be my Shepherd, and I will be your sheep (p. 226).

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