Luther's Sermons Scanned Here
The Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #195 by Luther Christ lag in Todesbanden
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Eph 4:22-28
The Gospel Luke Matthew 9:1-8
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #191 Llanfair
Be of Good Cheer – Your Sins Are Forgiven
The Hymn #369 Wenn wir in hoechsten Noeten
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #370 Magdalen
KJV Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
KJV Matthew 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity: The Collects of Veit Dietrich
O mighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Son Jesus Christ didst mercifully help the palsied man both in body and soul: We beseech Thee, for the sake of Thy great mercy: Be gracious also unto us; forgive us all our sins, and so govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not ourselves be the cause of sickness and other afflictions; keep us in Thy fear, and strengthen us by Thy grace that we may escape temporal and eternal wrath and punishment, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
(A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Treatise Compiled by the Theologians Assembled at Smalcald - 1537
Magister Veit Dieterich of Nuernberg subscribed)
Be of Good Cheer – Your Sins Are Forgiven
Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
There are many important elements in this miracle story. I often read Luther’s sermon on the text, which is available in the seven-volume set. Here is a link from CBD:
Seven volumes sell for $35, the approximate cost of one hard-cover novel.
From Luther I have learned to see different doctrines emphasized in similar stories. A new reader (or young pastor) may see just another miracle story here in this text. But there are two things at work here.
One is the brevity of the Gospels. Each Gospel is so short that the inclusion of a passage must mean that God considered it vitally important. We should too.
I told this story before, but it fits what I am saying. One time we left New Ulm for the Mayo Clinic. I forgot to bring my wallet. I did not realize it until we were there, 140 miles from home. Chris did not bring hers. We had $3 in quarters for the day. We ate lunch and that was sparse. Chris got the sandwich because I forgot the money. I ate the crusts. They were so good because I was not going to have anything else. I had a little change, so I bought a box of cough drops. Each one was like a ruby. I enjoyed it and savored it. I was glad for every calorie. On the way home we bought food with my Amoco card at a gas station mart. That was no so good because we could have any amount of junk food they sold.
So we should savor every phrase of the Gospels and Paul’s letters because of the brevity of the Scriptures.
The second thing at work is our appreciation for the same text as we hear it and study it, year after year. Variety is the reason for people abandoning the simple, plain truths of the Word of God. They itch for something new and superficial instead of hungering for something old and satisfying.
In this text we see the example of faith – first of all. “Lo” or “Behold” means – this was that famous miracle. The friends believed in Christ and brought the man with palsy to see Jesus. The crowd was impossible so they went up on the roof with him. This was the man lowered down from the roof. The roofing tiles were pulled away and he was let down, a terrifying experience for someone tied into a cot. They had faith and the palsied man had faith in Christ’s healing power.
As Luther mentioned, no request of Jesus was ever declined. When we stumble over difficult passages (like the Canaanite woman) we should remember that.
Jesus’ reputation spread far and wide. He healed people and multitudes were drawn to Him by His personality, His kindness, and His powerful preaching. This also made powerful enemies.
Jesus saw the faith of the men and said, “Child, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven.”
Lenski has said, “There are sermons in the grammar,” and by that he meant the exact meaning of the word can be parsed because Greek is so precise. The moment Jesus pronounced those words, the man’s sins were forgiven. Lenski says in Matthew, p. 346:
“No man’s sins are forgiven without faith present in his heart.”
The religious opponents knew the meaning of this absolution. Only God can forgive sins. They howled, “He is blaspheming! – speaking against the majesty of God by assuming that divinity himself!”
In that respect Jesus earned a confession of sorts from his opponents, just as He did from the demons who possessed people: “We know who You are – the Son of the Blessed!”
When Jesus saw the Pharisees reacting against Him, He asked, “Which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Take up your cot and walk’?”
The next section is very powerful:
Matthew 9:6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.
That is why Matthew wrote “Lo” – because everyone knew that story. And who could forget a man lowered from the roof and walking away with his cot in his strengthened arms?
Lenski has good insights about the plight of the man. His sinfulness did not cause his paralysis, but the palsy brought out his sinful nature. I have known people trapped in useless bodies who raged against their fate. One man refused to take communion because of his anger. He blamed God for his problems, which were apparently caused by bad surgery. He kept saying, “I once swung a sledge-hammer all day.”
We do not have exact details about the palsied man, but we can see Jesus healed him both in body and soul.
The Pharisees saw that only God can forgive sins. And how did this happen? The Word of God, spoken by Jesus, conveyed this forgiveness to the believer, the palsied man.
The absolution (beautifully described in TLH #331) accomplishes the same, with the pastor repeating the Word of Christ: “Your sins are forgiven.”
Some consume this Gospel without knowing or experiencing what it means. The Pharisees heard the Gospel promise and it hardened their hearts even more, showing how effective the Word is. (Blinding or enlightening, hardening or converting)
Jesus taught in great detail about people who experience forgiveness, believe in Christ, and then let go of the Word and become worse than ever before. Others see the Gospel as a way to improve their living or their reputations. They may come for the wrong reason and become converted. Or they may become worse as they harden themselves against the Word.
There is one story of an organist who never came to communion for decades. Finally, one day he appeared at the altar to take communion with the rest. The Word finally penetrated his heart.
One unfortunate affliction of theologians and church historians is reading too many books. So many times I recall those idiotic passages of well-educated people who rail against the plain meaning of the Word. They would climb into heaven and advise God. Why so many instruments of grace (Means of Grace)?
Perhaps man needs the Word spoken and taught, the Word visible in baptism and communion, the absolution, and the mutual consolation of the brethren.
G. K. Chesterton said that man does not need absolution so much as a complete confession. I take that as a description of the sinful state of man. Because of our weakness, our frailty, God has given us many ways to receive complete, full, and free forgiveness of our sins.
Forgiveness does strengthen us. Nothing is so disabling as bearing a burden of sin. Worse than this burden is the thought of man paying for this sin, redeeming himself by acts of contrition. As Luther said, “People purchase Hell for themselves when they can have heaven for free.”
Lack of forgiveness wears us down, either with depression or anger. Some say anger and depression go together. Because of our sinful nature, we act according to wrong assumptions. The most basic concerns forgiveness. Once we grasp the Gospel forgiveness offered to us so freely and generously, we cannot be stingy with others in any way. If we wait to forgive until everyone pleases us, we will torture ourselves.
That is what often happens in families. There is an attitude of “I will be happy when things go my way.” If the ministry of Jesus had been like that, we would still be heathen worshiping trees and sacrificing human beings. Instead, we should generate happiness by making others happy. Blessings and misery multiply, but blessings are easier to generate as the fruit of the Gospel Promises.
Here is one question, “How can I make this a memorable day for you?” Then wait for then answer and act on it. That can have multiple effects of forgiveness, joy, love, warmth, and happiness.
The Gospel is so powerful that it can affect the people closest to us, starting with us.
From Luther's sermon on this text:
THE POWER ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS.
28. The Pharisees knew very well that to forgive sins was the work of God, and belonged to him alone. For this reason they regarded Christ as a blasphemer, who as a man pretended to forgive sins. The forgiveness of sin is of two kinds: The first is to drive sin from the heart and infuse grace into it; this is the work of God alone. The second kind is the declaration of the forgiveness of sin; this man can do to his fellowman. But here Christ does both. He instills the Spirit into the heart and externally he declares forgiveness with the word, which is a declaration and public preaching of the internal forgiveness.
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29. All men who are Christians and have been baptized, have this power. For with this they praise Christ, and the word is put into their mouth, so that they may and are able to say, if they wish, and as often as it is necessary: Behold, 0 Man! God offers thee his grace, forgives thee all thy sins; be comforted, thy sins are forgiven; only believe and thou wilt surely have forgiveness. This word of consolation shall not cease among Christians until the last day: "Thy sins are forgiven, be of good cheer." Such language a Christian always uses and openly declares the forgiveness of sins. For this reason and in this manner a Christian has power to forgive sins.
30. Therefore if I say to you: Thy sins are forgiven, then believe it as surely as though God himself had said it to you. But who could do this if Christ had not descended, had not instructed me and said that we should forgive one another our trespasses? As when he says, John 20, 22-23: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained unto them." And at another place, Mat. 18, 19-20, he says: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." The word penetrates and performs it.
31. Now if there were no man on earth to forgive sins, and there were only law and works what a weak, and miserable thing a poor troubled conscience would be. But now when God adequately instructs every one, so that he is able to say to others: Thy sins are forgiven thee, whereever thou art; the golden age has arrived. On this account we are to be defiant and boastful against sin, so that we can say to our brother, who is in anxiety and distress on account of his sins: Be of good cheer, my brother, thy sins are forgiven; although I cannot give thee the Holy Ghost and faith, I can yet declare them unto thee; if thou believest, thou hast them. They who thus believe these words, praise and glorify God, even as they do here in the Gospel.