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Stoeckhardt on Trinity 13 – Luke 10:23-37

by pastorjuhl ~ September 2nd, 2009

Famous men, benefactors of humanity who lived and died long ago have been represented to us in word, books, accounts, so that we are able, as it were, to examine them with our eyes, to take hold of them with our hands. But yet it is merely a mental image without life and reality. With Christ and his Gospel it is different. Christ lives still and bears witness to himself through the Gospel. Through the preaching of the Gospel the living Christ, the eternal Son of God, shows himself, demonstrates his divine power in our hearts. We hear his voice.

Yes, and the Man Jesus, our Brother, our flesh and blood, is near us. In Holy Communion we eat and drink the true body and blood of the Son of Man. We have fellowship with Christ, the God-Man, the Redeemer, living fellowship with him, as did the disciples and apostles. Yes, he is joined much closer to us than he was to the disciples during the time he stood before then in the form of a servant. Christ lives in our hearts not only with his Spirit and gifts but he personally, Christ, through faith. For that reason we humans are blessed.

Of course, since the days of the apostles Christ has not always been revealed in the same way. Christ and the Gospel were since then often, indeed for centuries, hidden from view. At the time of the Reformation the light of the Gospel again surfaced after the dark night, out of the night of unbelief and superstition. Again th0usands upon thousands rejoiced in the bright light of day. Then once more gloom was cast over evangelical doctrine throughout Christendom. Apostasy and unbelief gained the upper hand. But we praise God that we in these our days are able to see the face of Christ exposed to view. We live in the blessed time of the revealed Gospel and Gospel preaching. We have the pure doctrine, the full comfort of the Gospel. Therefore, we belong among those fortunate men to whom the Lord says: “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see” (Gnade um Gnade, 318-319).

Just when the Gospel was proclaimed the loudest and most powerfully, then too did contempt, obduracy, embitterment reach their peak. Luther says that Germany at no time had the Gospel as pure as at his time. No teacher of Christendom, however, has censured the ingratitude of men towards the Gospel as severely as did Luther, and these men were the evangelicals at that. Luther says in his exposition of today’s Gospel: “Before when we were held captive by the Pope, encumbered by the false preaching of indulgence, purgatory, and all kinds of monkish dreams, what sighing and longing for  honest preaching were heard throughout the world! But now how many are there who rejoice and confess from the heart how blessed they are that they are able to hear and see such things? We have examples from these centuries when in the midst of the darkness of unbelief, even in the midst of papal countries there arose teachers, though still lacking much, who nevertheless preached Christ and the righteousness that avails before God, and when thousands from far and near came forward to listen to these strange preachers. Now since many there are who have become weary and have had enough of heaven’s beautiful light!” (Gnade um Gnade, 319)

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