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Martin Franzmann on Trinity 21 – John 4:46-54

by pastorjuhl ~ October 20th, 2010

If you don’t own “Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets“, please call Concordia Publishing House today and order the book. It’s inexpensive and is a goldmine of great preaching from the mind and lips of Blessed Martin Franzmann. I fear Prof. Franzmann may be forgotten among the brilliant professors to serve at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. He stopped teaching in St. Louis about the time all the troubles were brewing in the 1960s. He later moved to England and served there until his death. A nice biography is available here in another reasonably priced Franzmann book. One of the Good Shepherd Conferences a while ago spent much time on Martin Franzmann. I have the journal from that year and it too is good reading.

Enough of the laudatory comments. Here are some quotes from the Franzmann sermon. I commend the entire sermon to your edification.
What manner of Man is this, that not only winds and waves obey Him, but an agonized father of a dying boy picks his way home, across the ruins of his shattered hope, on a word alone? He believed; his was probably one of the minutest of the mustard seeds of faith. And no sign, no miracle – he had that word in his pocket, and that was all he had to go on for those 27 kilometers.
Let us learn to look full upon the face of Christ, even when that face looks stern. It is always the face of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. It is always the face of Him who died for us and rose again that we might never die again. There is more compassion in this Man’s sternness, more real love than in all the bland beamings of the pseudo-Jesuses that men construct according to their heart’s desires.

When Jesus sent this man home with only a word to go on, with only a word in his pocket, He was ministering mightily to us all. He shifted our faith from signs and wonders to His word.
“Hear ye Him! Hear ye Him!” – that was the climax of the transfiguration. “Go thy way,” He tells us. Let us learn to go our way, let us learn to hear His Word in every fraction and every portion of our lives, including our professional lives, in the days when we are down, way down. Let us find the faith that this poor nobleman found, the veriest, tiniest mustard-seed faith, it may be, but faith that encloses the living power of God. Let us hear His word: “Thy work liveth; thy future liveth; thy vocation liveth; thy theology (thy poor, mangy little theology that seems all unintegrated), thy theology liveth, thou livest, and thou shalt serve Me.” Take Him at His word.

We all look for signs, even we sober exegetes. We are always looking for signs and are afraid to go by the Word. Emily Dickinson once said of poetry: “I don’t know what poetry is, but when I read something and I feel as though the top of my head has been blown off, I know that’s poetry.” And I think the same thing can be said of revelation. Revelation is hard to define, but if we meet a revelatory word and we feel as though the top of our head has been blown off, then we know that is really God at work. But we always want our heads blown off right away; we won’t wait, we won’t go the 27 kilometers (and sometimes it is 54 kilometers and sometimes 108 kilometers) of weary, slugging dictionary-paging, concordance-thumbing work. We won’t go the 27 kilometers; we want our heads blown off first. Let us learn to take this Man from Cana at His Word, and go the 27 kilometers and not despair. We shall find that the top of our heads will be blown off by the strangest words in the strangest places.

1 Response to Martin Franzmann on Trinity 21 – John 4:46-54

  1. Charles James

    Oh yes. Thank you my brother for breaking the Word of God to me. I have lived life longing for something better than what I had and yet I looked for it outside of myself and the Church. My faith was not strong enough to trust the word of the Man from Galilee. The sinful world, the devil himself and my own sinfulness all hindered me in trusting the Man from Galilee. I will trust his word.

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