Jesus Purchased the Preaching Office of the Gospel with His Passion.
The exceedingly precious nature of the Gospel becomes clear in Psalm 40 where Christ closely and intimately connects His Passion with the Preaching of the Gospel, fashioning the Gospel by His Passion. The 1905 edition of Luther's German Bible published by Concordia Publishing House captions this psalm: "Prophecy Concerning Christ, His Suffering and Prophetic Office."
Christ begins with His Passion, suffering the dreadful consequences of the sins of men. Christ says, "I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto Me, and heard My cry. He brought Me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set My feet upon a rock, and established My goings." Psalm 40:1-2. This horrible pit is the result of God's wrath over man's sin, which sin was imputed to Christ the Savior. Christ suffered the terra infirma (the unsure ground, quicksand as it were, miry clay) of God forsaking Him because of the sins of all men reckoned to Him.
Because Christ suffered completely for all the sins of all men, God heard His cry and delivered Him from the miry pit of God's forsaking. There no longer remains any pit of horrors for men to suffer because Christ has already suffered all those horrors already, leaving none remaining to endure.
Moreover, once Christ is delivered from the miry pit of horrors, God sets Him on the Solid Ground and Secure Footing of His Righteousness. Now, because of Christ's Work, secure footing stretches out in every direction forever for all men, establishing for men an eternally secure relationship with God.
Immediately issuing from Christ's Passion is the New Song, which is the Gospel, showing once again the inextricable connection between Christ's Work and the Distribution of the Fruits of that Work through the Gospel because Christ fashioned the Gospel by His Passion.
The Apostle St. Paul writes of Christ fashioning the Gospel by His Passion when he writes of Holy Baptism: "... Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word ... ." Ephesians 5:25, 26. In other words, Christ died on the Cross in order to save us through the Blessed Waters of Holy Baptism, the Gospel (God's Word and Sacraments are the Gospel, The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV. (XII.): Of the Mass, Of the Term Mass.80, 81, Triglotta, p. 411). Luther: [H]oly baptism was purchased for us through this same blood, which was shed for us and with which he paid for sin. This blood and its merit and power he put into baptism, in order that in baptism we might receive it. For whenever a person receives baptism in faith this is the same as if he were visibly washed and cleansed with the blood of Christ. For we do not attain the forgiveness of sins through our work, but rather through the death and the shedding of the blood of the Son of God. But he takes this forgiveness of sin and tucks it into baptism. Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 51, p. 325.
This New Song of the Gospel Christ sings to us every Sunday is not drudgery and doesn't inspire weariness in men, but rather delightful righteousness and holiness pleasing to God and rewarding to men. David writes, "And He hath put a new song in My mouth, even unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:3. Through the Gospel Christ's Work of Sanctifying men by His Life, Death, and Resurrection, in their behalf is reckoned to them by faith. Isaiah writes of Christ's Work for men: "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge of and of the fear of the LORD." Isaiah 11:3.
This Blessed Singing of Christ inspires faith in the hearts of men and they receive Christ's salvation, sanctification, and righteousness. The Apostle St. Paul writes: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. Again, the Apostle St. Paul writes: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10.32
Christ sings these wonderful gifts into the hearts and lives of men through His Word and Sacraments, the Gospel, by faith, and Christians gain this glorious and saving sanctification simply through hearing Christ singing to them this Beautiful New Song every Sunday. Luther writes: "... listen to Paul, who says here35: 'Not by your own labor and sweat or by the works of the Law but by hearing with faith you have received the Holy Spirit.' Or listen to Christ Himself, who gives the following answer to Martha when she is deeply concerned and finds it almost unbearable that her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to His words, and leaving her to serve alone. 'Martha' He says (Luke 10:41-42), 'you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.' Therefore a man becomes a Christian, not by working but by listening." Luther's Works, Vol. 26, p. 214, underscore added.
This Wonderful and Saving Listening Ability to God's Word Christ fashioned for us by His Obedience unto God in life and in death, i.e. His Active and Passive Obedience (Galatians 4:4-5, Philippians 2:8, The Small Catechism, Question 132 B.), "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; Mine ears hast Thou opened ... ." God fashioned for Christ an Ear that hearkens unto God's Word, unlike the rest of men who through sin disobey God's Word. This Wonderful hearing Christ fashioned for us in order that we become the righteousness of God in Him (Corinthians 5:21).
Hence, Christ says, "Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of Me." Psalm 40:7. Christ is the long-awaited Messiah who's coming the world awaited ("... until Shiloh [the Man who gives Peace] come' and unto him shall the gathering of the people be", Genesis 49:10). And it is written of Him in the Book, i.e. the Holy Scriptures, because the Blessings of Christ's Saving Work ever only and always emerge from the Gospel, the Preaching of the Cross, because He fashioned the Gospel by His Passion in order to save us through the New Song of the Gospel.
SERMONS FOR LENT 2014
17 April 2014