Friday, July 16, 2010

Matthew 6:19-21 (Luther)

MATTHEW 6:19. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

So far He has denounced their false interpretation of the Decalog, purifying and cleansing their confused and obscured teaching. Then He went on to teach about genuine good works, in opposition to the glitter of their false good works. Thus He has taught the right understanding of the Decalog and the right performance of works. Now He begins His warning against the temptations that are an obstacle to this teaching, a warning that continues almost to the eighth chapter. He will do this with the immense skill of a good teacher, who skips nothing that serves to keep us in the right teaching and life.
First of all He takes up that great and beautiful vice called greed. Whenever the Gospel is taught and people seek to live according to it, there are two terrible plagues that always arise: false preachers who corrupt the teaching, and then Sir Greed, who obstructs right living. Now that the Gospel is being preached again, the people have become much greedier than they were before. They scrimp and scrape as if they were practically dying of hunger. They used to go around as if they were blind and transfixed, they used to let the preachers tell them any kind of silly notion, and they contributed their dues in piles. They did not see how much it was, and they did not complain. Now that their eyes are opened and they know how they ought to live and what genuine good works are, they watch their pfennigs so closely and they are so greedy that you would think every one of them wanted to take all the property in the world for himself. The only way I can account for this or explain where it came from is that it must be a plague from the devil himself. He tries to obscure the light of the Gospel by inserting this shameful vice. The Gospel gives us the consolation not only that we shall live forever hereafter, but also that we shall have enough to eat here, as Psalm 8 declares (Ps. 8:5–8): Christ shall be a King and Lord over the whole world, and in His hand He will have sheep and oxen and all the animals on earth, so that He will not let us starve to death. We know all this, and yet we ourselves are stuck deeper in greed and anxiety about our temporal nourishment than we used to be. We are always short of money and running out of funds, and for the glory of God we cannot give one tenth as much as we used to stuff into the jaws of the devil.
Christ taught the same thing in many other places and predicted it. For example, when He sent out His apostles to preach. He was concerned and He warned them mainly about two things of which they were to beware, false teaching and greed. And He severely forbade them to take any provisions with them for the trip or to be worried about what they were to eat and to drink (Matt. 10:9, 10). As I have said, there are two most dangerous and corrupting forces in Christendom: spiritually, it is the false teaching that corrupts faith; physically, it is the greed that corrupts its fruit. Once doctrine and life have begun to go in the right direction, therefore, preaching and warning are necessary to stay on the right track and not to be diverted from it by a false interpretation of Scripture; furthermore, to be on the lookout lest greed secretly sneak into us and take over. Then we shall not have our aim only on temporal things and on having enough here, as if that were everything. This is a dangerous vice that sticks to a person. It can put on a good front and make a fine impression that deceives even Christians, so that no one can feel secure against it. People look at their lot in the world, at the affliction that the world is continually inflicting upon them when it begrudges them so much as a crust of bread. On account of the world they almost have to die of hunger. Thus the poor preachers now are compelled to endure trouble and want. They undergo such temptation that they begin to think about acquiring and accumulating something to enable them to remain in the world. Finally they fall into worldly care and greed, they neglect their ministries on account of this, and some of them even surrender the Gospel completely.
You see, that is why Christ begins now to preach many words against the great idol Mammon, drawing a most ugly kind of picture of him to put people on their guard against him. The first thing He says is: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal.” The treasures on earth He assigns to three trustees—rust, moths, and thieves. These are miserable watchmen to put in charge of treasures! But God has wisely ordained that wherever there is a treasure, there must be such fellows to watch it, just as there are usually sparrows or rats or mice near the grain. And that is just what we deserve; for we do not use our money and property rightly, and in our miserable greed we scrape up everything for ourselves, while no one gives or grants anything to anyone else.
But by “moths and rust” He does not refer merely to the ones that consume clothing or iron or brass. By “mice and rats” He does not mean only the ones that are caught in traps. And He does not apply the name “thieves” only to the ones that secretly rob the money boxes. He is also talking about huge living moths and public thieves. There are, for instance, the great braggarts and bigwigs21 at court, who can clean out a prince’s granary and treasury and finally strip him of everything he has. And in the cities there are not only the people who break into a citizen’s house, but also the ones who cleverly and secretly suck out a city’s resources with their usury and their swindles in the market and wherever else they can. In short, wherever there is money and property, there must also be moths and thieves that are after it. Wherever people live together in the world, it is all full of such rats and mice. An unfaithful courtier or official who does nothing but devour a prince’s money or property while there is some to devour—what is such a man but “rust or moth”? There are many of these hypocrites now, with their heavy, unnecessary, and vain expenses every day. They are impoverishing the princes, and it does not matter to them whether a prince is prospering or going to ruin, just so long as they can be masters of his money and run things the way they please.
In all the cities and villages, similarly, everything is full of rats and moths, big ones and little ones, secret ones and open ones—shoemakers, tailors, butchers, bakers, brewers, bartenders, and other craftsmen, workmen, and day laborers. For that matter, any householder who has a lazy and unfaithful servant, what does he have but a weevil that is devouring more of his goods than if he had the floor full of rats and mice?
Now you see what a fine god Mammon is. The best guards and courtiers he can assemble are moths and rust. Though someone may have been accumulating great treasures for a long time, these parasites have to devour so much that the one who ought to use it never has a chance to enjoy it or to take pleasure in it. Have the fortunes of great lords and princes ever been invested wisely? Usually they have been wasted in war or fed to these miserable maggots or squandered or destroyed in some other useless way. Therefore those who do not have many treasures are the best off, for they do not have many rats to feed and do not have to be afraid of thieves.
What then? Is it wrong to have any treasures at all? Is this a general condemnation of everyone that gathers treasures on earth? Surely that cannot be the case. For if everyone were to behave the way you and I do, by tomorrow no one would have any house or home left! The lords and the princes have to get and store provisions for their land and people. That is why God created gold and silver and gave them mines. So we read in Scripture (Deut. 17:16, 17) that Moses taught the king not to have too many horses or too much gold or silver. This concedes that he may gather treasures in moderation. Such was King Solomon’s boast about himself (Eccl. 2:8). The patriarch Joseph collected so much that he subjected all of Egypt to the king—its corn, money, property, cattle, and finally the very bodies of the people as the king’s vassals (Gen. 47:14–26). Thus Abraham had many sheep and much gold and silver, with which he carried on his business (Gen. 13:2). What shall we say, then, about Christ’s clear prohibition of gathering treasures? For that matter, you have to say that He Himself had a fund—since Judas carried the money box and the money (John 12:6)—and that He always had a reserve on hand, so that the disciples never lacked anything when He sent them forth, as they themselves said (Luke 22:35). Then why does He forbid it here, and why does He say that they should take along no purse or bag or sandals (Luke 10:4)?
Answer: We have already said often enough that in this sermon Christ is giving instructions to the individual or the Christian man and that a sharp distinction must be made between the Christian and the man of the world, between a Christian person and a secular person. For a Christian as such does not bear the title male or female, young or old, lord or servant, emperor or prince, peasant or townsman, or anything else that can be named as belonging to the world. He does not have a “person” or mask, and he should not have anything or know anything in the world but be satisfied with his treasure in heaven. Whoever does not distinguish carefully here but imitates our sophists and fanatics in mixing everything up and confusing it, cannot correctly understand any of these sayings.
Of course, a prince can be a Christian, but he must not rule as a Christian; and insofar as he does rule, his name is not “Christian” but “prince.” The person is indeed a Christian, but his office or his princedom does not involve his Christianity. Insofar as he is a Christian, the Gospel teaches him not to do injury to anyone, neither to punish nor to take revenge, but to forgive everyone and to put up with any injury or injustice that may be done him. That, I say, is the Christian’s duty. But it would not make for a good administration if you were to preach that sort of thing to the prince. This is what he has to say: “My status as a Christian is something between God and myself. It has its own directions about how I should live in relation to Him. But above and beyond this I have another status or office in the world: I am a prince. The relation here is not one between God and this person, but between me and my land and people.” The issue here is not how you should live in relation to God, what you should do and what you should tolerate for yourself. That applies to you as a Christian person who is not involved with land and people. But this is not the business of your princely person, which should not do any of these things but should think about the administration of the government, the maintenance and protection of justice and peace, and the punishment of the wicked.
So you see that each status or office is properly distinguished from the other; and yet they are combined in one person and, so to speak, are contradictory. At one and the same time, the same person is supposed to tolerate everything and not to tolerate it, but in such a way that what is distinctive about each office is applied to it. That is, as has been said above: If it involves me as a Christian, I should tolerate it; but if it involves me as a secular person—an obligation not between God and me, but between me and my land and people, whom I am commanded to help and protect with the sword that has been placed in my hand for that purpose—then my duty is not to tolerate it, but the opposite. Thus every human being on earth has two persons: one person for himself, with obligations to no one except to God; and in addition a secular person, according to which he has obligations to other people. In this life we have to have social relations with one another. Take a husband or the head of a household, for example, with his wife and his children. Although he is a Christian, this does not mean that he has to stand for it if the members of his family raise a rumpus or cause trouble in the house. Rather he must resist wrongdoing and punish it, to make them behave properly. Once you correctly understand this distinction, Christ’s teaching is easy to understand. For here and in all His sermons He is not talking about the way a secular person should work and live, but about the way you should live uprightly before God as a Christian, as one who does not have to be bothered about the world, but who should direct his thoughts exclusively to another life.
This is what I say in comment on this text: That person of mine which is called “Christian” should not worry about money or save it, but should give its heart to God alone. But outwardly I may and I should use temporal goods for my body and for the needs of other people. As far as my secular person is concerned, I may and I should accumulate money and treasures—yet not too much, so that I do not become a greedy belly that seeks only its own benefit and can never be satisfied. A secular person has to have money, grain, and supplies for his land, his people, or the others that belong to him. If it were possible to govern the way the patriarch Joseph did in Egypt (Gen. 47:14), filling all the storehouses and granaries with provisions, administering the country in such a way as to provide for all its need, and using the supplies to help the people, to give them a loan or a gift when they needed it, that would certainly be a great prize and a fine and Christian way to use temporal goods. For whatever a prince accumulates, he accumulates not for himself but as a universal person, indeed as a universal father of his entire land. We dare not all be beggars. Everyone should earn enough to support himself without being a burden on other people, and to be able to help others as well. Thus one should contribute to others in time of need.
For this reason every city should store away as much as possible for the common need, and in addition every parish should have a common treasury for the poor. That would not be wrong. It would be a way of laying up Christian treasures. This is not the kind of treasure that is gathered to gratify greed and lust, the kind the world gathers. Thus our priests used to collect money with no other purpose than to enjoy it and to play with their guldens the way little girls do with their dolls. But when there was an emergency and other people needed help, then there was nobody home. Such treasures as these belong to the devil, and in opposition to them Christ is saying here that you should not lay up treasures on earth, that is, for yourself and for your own pleasure, and make your heart a greedy adherent of temporal Mammon; but you should search for and lay up another treasure in heaven. In your outward and secular life you may lay up as much as your relation with God and your honesty permits, not for your own pleasure and greed but for the need of other people. Whoever lays up treasure this way will obtain blessing and indulgence besides, as a pious Christian.
But there are some people so greedy that they keep on scratching and cannot stop. They will not let anyone else enjoy it, and they cannot even get any pleasure out of using it themselves. Such people will get what is described here. Moths, rust, and thieves will consume it; as it was gained, so it will be lost. On the other hand, it often happens that even where the accumulating had been good, the consuming takes place this way. That is the best treatment that temporal goods can expect on earth anyway. Now, if this is what happens to people who lay up their treasures properly, how much more will it happen to people who seek nothing but the money, not the use or benefit or fruit of the money! The benediction pronounced over it here is this: Moths and rust shall come over it and consume it, and it shall be stolen. Thus no one succeeds if he is greedy and grabs everything for himself this way. If a farmer has a big harvest, he still dare not use it, and he does not take pleasure in it. He has to bury it, so that it is of no use either to him or to anyone else. Otherwise the worms will gnaw at it and chew it up, or it will be taken over by the mercenaries and the bigwigs22 at court. They will keep it from being invested more profitably.
With these words Christ is trying to talk some sense into us, to keep us from becoming so greedy for Mammon; and He talks about him with such scorn and contempt that He could not have made him look any more ridiculous. What sort of god is it that is not even capable of defending himself against moth and rust? He has to put up with their gnawing and destroying every day, and he has to lie there as easy pickings for anyone. Everything that comes along can devour him, and every thief can rob him. It is frustrating to have a god that governs the whole world and yet is the helpless victim of moth, rust, and thieves. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for being the sort of people that cling to such a rusty treasure and put all their confidence in it. “Since you know this,” He wants to say, “do not set your hearts upon it, and do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. But be content with whatever God gives you here, and remember that it is in constant danger of being lost or taken from you.” There is no other way out, especially for the person who intends to be a Christian and to confess or preach his Lord. As a person who has challenged the world and all the devils, he always has to anticipate that people will snap at him and reject him. If he is to follow through on this challenge, he must be courageous enough to despise all their treasures and goods and to be sure of another and a better treasure.
That is why Christ says: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” That is to say: “Let the world have its rusty treasures, which are waiting for someone to rob and steal them. All they are good for is to give the world something to enjoy and trust. But you who are not of the world, who belong to heaven because you have been redeemed for it by My blood, and who therefore have another and an eternal possession prepared and set aside for you—do not let your hearts be enthralled here. If you occupy an office or a status that requires you to deal with earthly treasure, do not cling to it or serve it. Rather take it as your goal to acquire those treasures which have been set aside for you in heaven. Those are genuine treasures. Neither moth nor rust can touch them, and they are secure against anything that can devour and steal. They have been set aside in such a way that they never lose their freshness or wholeness, and they are guarded in such a way that no one can break into them.”
Whoever wants to be a Chrstian should take delight in this stimulating argument. It would certainly delight any greedy belly and make his heart laugh if you were to show him the sort of treasure that no rust could corrode and no thief could steal. But the world will not pay attention to this, because this is not what it sees or what it is looking for. It keeps on clinging to the gold and silver that glitters in its sight, though it certainly knows and realizes that this is not secure for a single hour against rust and thieves. These are not the people to whom we are preaching. Whoever refuses to stick to the Word of Christ and to be guided by the invisible treasure, let him go his way. We will not drag anyone in by the hair. But wait and see when it comes time for you to depart. Then summon the treasure you have laid up, the one you have made your reliance. Just see what you have in it then and what help it can give you!
The outcome is the one described in Psalm 76:5: “All the rich men sank into sleep, and they found nothing in their hands.” When it came time for the rich bellies that had served Mammon to die, they found nothing whatsoever. It is really terrible that those who have served Mammon all their life and who have wronged and harmed many other people on his account, and who have despised the Word of God, should be unable to make use of him in time of need. Then their eyes are opened for the first time. They catch sight of another world, and they go groping around for the supplies they have stored up. But they cannot find a thing, and their passing is ignominious and empty. In their anxiety and fear they forget about what they have laid up, and they do not find anything in heaven either. What happens to them is just what Christ describes in Luke 12:16–21. A rich man once had a great and glorious harvest, so that he decided to pull down his barns and build larger ones. He counted on having good days, and he said: “My dear soul, now you have great supplies laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and be merry.” You see, that is the peasant’s song that all the greedy bellies sing. But what comes next? “Fool! This night your soul is to be taken away from you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” Thus he lost the real treasure; and he had to surrender the property he had accumulated, and surrender it so pitiably that he did not even know who would get it.
That is the way of the world. Only seldom are great fortunes accumulated in a God-pleasing manner. Therefore they cannot be spent either to provide genuine enjoyment or to give someone some help. Instead they have to be dissipated in such a way that no one knows where they have vanished. This has often been my experience, particularly in the case of certain canons who were successful and wealthy and who left great fortunes. After their death such a fortune quickly disappears or is distributed among people who do not feel the least bit grateful to them for it, but who squander it heedlessly and waste it miserably. And if a war breaks out, then the devil really has a chance to do what he pleases. The hotheads get their hands on the money, even though it was never meant for them, and they use it to inflict all sorts of misery on the people.
If someone has been saving for a long time, therefore, and he is asked who will get his savings, he has to answer that he does not know. Frequently it does not turn out the way he had planned. A man is a silly fool if he makes all his confidence and his happiness depend upon this, torturing himself all his life with cares and worries and yet not knowing for whom he has been accumulating it. Still people refuse to pay attention to this. Human blindness and wickedness are too great, and the world insists upon being the world and upon suffering, just in order to serve its rusty treasure. When it has served for a long time and has angered God, this is its ultimate reward: God cannot help, and He leaves them out in the cold, adding insult to injury. It refuses to let anyone prevent this, just as fire cannot be prevented from burning or water from putting a fire out. So just let the world go, and remember the preaching which you have heard as a Christian. It has told you where you should plan to have and find your treasure, where it will be secure for you, and where it will remain forever without ever being transferred to somebody else. Meanwhile you make use of secular possessions, and you let them come and go at will as something temporary. If in doing this you accumulate a fortune in a godly and honest way, then He will also see to it that it remains, if it ought to remain, and that it does not get lost but is well spent and does a great amount of good.
Now Christ concludes with a proverb, saying: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This is equivalent to what we Germans say about a greedy belly: “Money is his heart”;23 that is, if only he has money, that is his joy and his comfort, in other words, his god. On the other hand, when he has nothing, that is death for him; then there is no heart, no joy, no comfort. What He means is this: “Keep watch on your own heart, and test it. And be assured that your heart will be in the same place where your treasure is.” As the common saying has it, “What is dear to a man, that is his god.” It is to this that his heart draws him; he thinks about it day and night; he goes to sleep with it, and he wakes up with it, whether it is money or property, pleasure or fame. So take a look at your own heart, and you will soon find out what has stuck to it and where your treasure is. It is easy to determine whether hearing the Word of God, living according to it, and achieving such a life gives you as much enjoyment and calls forth as much diligence from you as does accumulating and saving money and property.
I can draw the conclusion that money and property are not my heart’s treasure, provided that my heart has this attitude, and, if necessary, proves that it has: that I would be willing to lose not only my money and property, but even my neck, before I would desert or despise the Gospel or do injury and violence to my neighbor for my own benefit. Though I still may be accumulating some savings, I gladly risk their loss or destruction in order to aim for another treasure in heaven, the one that is hidden in the Word of God.
But then again, you may have another attitude. Regardless of all preaching, teaching, and admonishing you go along supposing that you have enough and can live in style. You do not ask whether or not it is an injustice to your neighbor for you just to keep what you have, and to make your calculations in such a way that with one pfennig you make two or even ten. And you say: “Let God worry about His Word with its preachers and about the world with its laws!” Then you can realize that your treasure is not in heaven above, but that it is still stuck with the moths and the rust. You would be willing to bring upon yourself the wrath of both God and the world rather than to surrender or give up even a pfennig of this for its sake. Nowadays peasants, townspeople, and noblemen everywhere are so impudent in their talking and living that for the sake of a heller they dare to stand up against God and His sovereignty over the world. Thus this saying remains true and actually convicts them, since they refuse to hear or to be told. It cannot come out any other way, even though we spend a long time worrying about it and wish we could see it come out some other way. Once they have been told, it is best to let them go their own way and to give them as much scorn and ridicule as they give us. For God says in the Second Psalm (Ps. 2:4, 5) that He knows how to laugh, and to laugh in such a way that it will cause them to cry bitterly; as it says, “He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury.”
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:166). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Matthew 6:16-18 (Luther)

Matthew 6:16. And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18. That your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

As He has denounced their almsgiving and their praying, so now He denounces their fasting. For these three good works include just about all the rest. The first means that we do all kinds of good works toward our neighbor; the second means that we are concerned about all sorts of needs, both public and private, and that we bring these before God; and the third means that we discipline our body. As they had shamefully misused both almsgiving and praying by seeking not God’s glory but their own praise through it, so they misused and perverted fasting. It was not a means of controlling or disciplining their own bodies or of praising and thanking God, but a device for having people look at them, talk about them, admire them, and say in astonishment: “Oh, what wonderful saints these people are! They do not live like other, ordinary people. They go around in gray coats, with their heads hanging down and a sour, pale expression on their faces. If such people do not get to heaven, what will become of the rest of us?” It is not His intention to reject or despise fasting in itself, any more than He rejects almsgiving and praying. Rather He is supporting these practices and teaching their proper use. In the same way it is His intention to restore proper fasting, to have it rightly used and properly understood, as any good work should be.
The origin of fasting among the Jews was in the prescription of Moses (Lev. 23:27) that they should fast for approximately fourteen days in a row during the Feast of the Atonement in the autumn. That was the common fast that they all observed at the same time. In addition, the Pharisees had their own special fast, by which they did something more and acquired a holier reputation than the others. The common fast was not appointed as a means for them to be seen by other people, since it was kept by the entire nation. Whatever is common to all cannot become the special boast of one. This is why they had to undertake many special fasts, to give the impression that they were much higher and more spiritual than ordinary people. Hence their boast in the Gospel against Christ (Matt. 9:14): “Why do the disciples of the Pharisees fast so often, but your disciples do not fast?” In addition they made use of distinctive gestures and marks to let it be known when they were fasting. They disfigured their faces, they did not wash or dress up, they wore a sad and gloomy look, and they affected such deep seriousness that people had to talk and sing about it.
Now Christ comes along to demolish such fasting and to teach the exact opposite when He says: “If you want to fast, then fast in such a way that you do not wear a sad expression. Wash and anoint your face so that you seem to be merry, happy, and cheerful, like a person on a holiday. That way no one will be able to tell the difference between your fasting and your festivities.” It was the custom of the Jews to sprinkle themselves with perfumes and to anoint their heads so that their whole body was fragrant when they were having a celebration or when they wanted to be cheerful. If you fast in this way, so that it is a matter between you and your Father alone, then you have fasted rightly, and it is pleasing to Him. This does not make it wrong to wear poor clothes on a fast day or to go without washing, but it rejects the motivation when you do this for the sake of acquiring a reputation, and when you use special gestures to make people stare. We often read that when people were fasting, they put on sackcloth and strewed ashes on their heads, the way the king of Nineveh did together with the whole city (Jonah 3:5, 6). But that was another kind of fasting, which they learned from their need and misery.
From the Jews we took over our great season of fasting in Lent.10 At first we kept fourteen days, too; but then we became holier and stretched it out to four weeks, and then finally extended it to forty days. But even that was not enough, so that as additional fast days we set aside two days of every week throughout the year, Friday and Saturday. Finally there were the four golden fasts or compulsory fasts. Now, all these were only the general fasts. Over and above them, Advent found some special saints of its own, who made it into a fast. On top of this, there were the monastic observances in the monasteries and the particular saints that everyone selected in excess of the general fasts. The end result of all this was that none of this seemed to be of any value unless each one set up his own fast in addition.
Now, if you put all this fasting together on one pile, it is not worth a heller. The ancient fathers may have meant it well and have observed the fasts properly, but the filth soon overwhelmed11 and ruined it and made it worthless. And that was just what it deserved. As it was a mere human plaything to have these many special fasts, so it soon degenerated into shameful abuse. For I really dare say that in what they termed “fasting” in the papacy I never saw a genuine fast. How can I call it a fast if someone prepares a lunch of expensive fish, with the choicest spices, more and better than for two or three other meals, and washes it down with the strongest drink, and spends an hour or three at filling his belly till it is stuffed? Yet that was the usual thing and a minor thing even among the very strictest monks. But it was the holy fathers, the bishops, the abbots, and the other prelates who were really strict in their observance, with ten and twenty courses and so much refreshment at night that several threshers could have lived on it for three days. It may well be that certain prisoners or poor and sick people were compelled to fast on account of poverty, but I know of no one who fasted for the sake of devotion, and still less now. But now these dear papists of mine have all become good Lutherans, and none of them thinks about fasting any more. Meanwhile the poor pastors on our side have to suffer hunger and trouble, and they have to observe a genuine fast every day in place of such people.
Thus this kind of fasting has turned out to be a great deal worse than the fasting of the Jews and Pharisees. They at least fasted honestly and truly, except that they sought to enhance their own reputation by means of it. But under the name of fasting ours has become nothing more than feasting. It is no fast at all, but a mockery of God and of the people. In addition, they have added the disgraceful idea that there is a distinction among the kinds of food and that some of these are forbidden. They call it fasting if you abstain from eating meat; but meanwhile you may eat the finest fish with the most expensive sauces and spices and the strongest wine! That is why I have advised, and still do, that such fasting be trampled underfoot as a mockery and a reproach to God. It irks me that some people should practice and permit this mockery in Christendom, deceiving God with the mask of saying that such a life of gluttony and guzzling and belly-filling should be called a fast and a good work.
Now, this disgraceful deception is so coarse and impudent that it does not need the Scriptures for a rebuke; any peasant, even a seven-year-old child, can grasp and understand this. But the disgrace has been compounded with an even more disgraceful abuse, one that ruins even genuine fasting. Fasting has become a means of seeking great merit before God, of atoning for sin, and of reconciling God; in absolution, therefore, they have imposed this fasting as an act of penance. That is what I call fasting in the name of all the devils, hitting Christ in the mouth and trampling Him underfoot. If there has to be some sort of abuse and if some evil has to be done, I would rather let a man guzzle himself into a drunken stupor. If I have to look at filth, I would rather see a gorged pig than a saint like this, even if he fasts most strictly on bread and water. This abomination still fills the teachings and the books of all the monks, the bulls of all the popes, and all the pulpits. Even when they are doing their very best, this is the only kind of fasting about which they know anything. I will not discuss the extravagant way they exalt the gross and shameful lie about fasting to which we have referred, and the way they have used it to establish and maintain the idolatry of the saints. Yet no one has been found to say a single word against these abuses. Therefore I still say that never in my whole life have I seen a fast in the entire papacy that was really a Christian fast. All I have ever seen was disgraceful feasting and gluttony instead of genuine fasting, together with sheer idolatry and hypocrisy designed to deceive God and to fool12 the people. Therefore let us learn here what it really means to fast.
There are two kinds of fasts that are good and commendable. One could be called a secular or civil fast; it is ordered by the government as any other governmental ordinance or command is, and it is not required as a good work or as a divine service. I would like to see something like this, and I would lend it my counsel and support, if the emperor or the princes would issue an order that for one or two days a week there should be no eating or selling of meat. This would be a good and useful ordinance for the country, so that everything is not gobbled up as it is now, until finally hard times come and nothing is available. I would also be glad if at certain times, once a week or as often as might seem best, there were no evening meal, except a piece of bread and something to drink, to keep everything from being used up with the kind of incessant guzzling and gobbling that we Germans do, and to teach people to live a little more moderately, especially those who are young, sturdy, and strong. But this should be a completely secular arrangement, subject to the authority of the government.
In addition to this fast there should also be a general spiritual fast for us Christians to observe. It would be a good arrangement to observe a general fast for a few days before Easter, before Pentecost, and before Christmas, to distribute the fasts over the year. But on no account dare it be done for the purpose of making it an act of worship or a means of meriting something and reconciling God. But let it be an outward Christian discipline and exercise for the young and simple people, by which they can learn to keep track of the seasons and to make the proper distinctions throughout the year, the way the four Ember weeks have been observed for everyone to keep.13 For certain seasons have to be distinguished and set aside as fasts and festivals for the sake of the common herd, to preach and commemorate the principal events and deeds of Christ. This would not be regarded as a special divine service, but only as a memorial day, for dividing up the entire year and determining what season it is. In this sense I would be willing to condone fasts on every Friday evening throughout the year, setting it aside as a distinctive day. But I neither could nor would introduce such fasting unless it had been agreed upon harmoniously beforehand. You see, in this way the Christian Church would have plenty of fasting to do, and no one would have the right to accuse us of despising and completely rejecting the practice of fasting.
But even this is not the real Christian fasting that Christ has in mind, the fasting appropriate to each individual which, if it is to be worthy of being called true Christian fasting, involves more than merely abstaining from food in the evening. This is only a part of it, and the smallest part at that. True fasting consists in the disciplining and restraining of your body, which pertains not only to eating, drinking, and sleeping, but also to your leisure, your pleasure,14 and to everything that may delight your body or that you do to provide for it and take care of it. To fast means to refrain and hold back from all such things, and to do so only as a means of curbing and humbling the flesh. This is how Scripture enjoins fasting, calling it “afflicting the soul” (Lev. 16:29), “afflicting the body,”15 and the like, so that it stays away from pleasure, good times, and fun. Such was the fasting of the ancient fathers. They neither ate nor drank anything all day, they walked around sorrowful all day, and they withheld everything from their bodies, to the limit of natural endurance.
Such fasting is not a very frequent thing nowadays, particularly among our clergy, among the monks and the priests. The Carthusians claim to lead the strictest lives, and they do not observe it. They observe part of it for the sake of appearances, when they go around in clothes made of horsehair. But still they gorge their bellies full of the best food and drink, and they have a soft life without a care in the world. No, it will not do for you to quibble and deceive. Fasting means humbling your body and withholding from it whatever pleases and gratifies it. And even if they really did fast correctly, the devilish misuse of basing their holiness upon this and of trying to get something special from God by it would still be there.
Even if our fasting is the very best possible, we must not rely upon it. For there may be a secret scoundrel lurking behind it, an enemy of faith or love. Thus in the passage quoted above (Is. 58:3, 4),16 the prophet Isaiah denounces the kind of fasting by which they tortured their bodies but simultaneously tormented and troubled their debtors. So it was that Christ rejected the fasting of the Pharisees, not because they did not really fast, but because by their fasting they sought to enhance their own reputation and glory.
It takes many things, therefore, for fasting to be a truly good work and one pleasing to God. He wants nothing at all to do with you if by your fasting you court Him as if you were a great saint, and yet meanwhile you nurse a grudge or anger against your neighbor. If you want to fast right, see to it first that you are a pious man, one who both believes and loves correctly; for this work deals not with God or our neighbor, but with our own body. But nobody wants to do this. Therefore I have a right to say that I have never seen any real fasting. All there has been is a fasting that goes halfway or part way, and nothing but deception. To make an impression, someone will skip a meal but go right on tickling his body every day. One exception now may be certain pious preachers and ministers in the villages and elsewhere, who are compelled to fast from necessity and to suffer scorn, ridicule, and all sorts of trouble. No one gives them so much as a piece of bread. They do not have any fun or fancy clothes or easy times. They are the ones who wander around in the world, people whom no one knows, “of whom the world is not worthy,” as the Epistle to the Hebrews says (Heb. 11:38).17 But the Carthusian monks go around in their hairshirts, and our sectarian vermin in their gray coats. At these people we are supposed to gaze with our mouths open and say: “Oh, what holy people they are! How terrible and difficult it must be for them to go around in such dingy and shabby clothes!” And yet they never stop swilling and stuffing their belly full.
You see, what I call the real fasting of Christians means that you punish your whole body and compel it, as well as all five senses, to forsake and do without whatever makes life comfortable. This may be either voluntary or compulsory, provided that you willingly accept it. You may eat either fish or meat, but no more than your real need requires, to keep your body from being injured or incapacitated and yet to hold it in check and to keep it busy so that it does not become idle or lazy or lewd. But I will not take it upon myself to prescribe this sort of fasting, nor will I impose it upon anyone else. Here everyone has to take a look at himself and judge his own feelings. We are not all alike, and so no one can set up a general rule. Everyone must impose or adjust the fasting in relation to his own strength and to his feelings about how much his own flesh requires. For this fasting is directed only against the lust and the passions of the flesh, not against nature itself. It is not confined to any rule or measure, to any time or place. If necessary, it should be practiced continually, to hold a tight rein on the body and to get it used to enduring discomfort, in case it should become necessary to do so. It should be left up to the discretion of every individual, and no one should take it upon himself to apportion it by rules, as the pope has done. It is likewise impossible to apportion praying, but it must be left free, according to what each individual’s devotion or need may suggest or require. Almsgiving cannot be legislated or forced either, to whom or when or how much we are to give.
This is as far as the general rule for all Christians goes. Everyone is commanded to live a moderate, sober, and disciplined life, not for one day or one year, but for every day and always. This is what the Scriptures call “sobriety,” or sober living.18 In this way, though they may not all be able to observe the high fasts, they will at least do this much. They will be moderate in eating, drinking, sleeping, and in all the necessities of their body. They will do as much of these things as their need requires, not as much as their greedy appetite or whim requires; and they will not live here as though the purpose of life were only eating and drinking, dancing and having a gay time. But if their weakness sometimes causes them to go too far, let that be included in the article entitled “the forgiveness of sins,” together with other daily trespasses.
But above all, you must see to it that you are already pious and a true Christian and that you are not planning to render God a service by this fasting. Your service to God must be only faith in Christ and love to your neighbor, simply doing what is required of you. If this is not your situation, then you would do better to leave fasting alone. The only purpose of fasting is to discipline the body by outwardly cutting off both lust and the opportunity for lust, the same thing that faith does inwardly in the heart.
Let this discussion suffice with regard to fasting. Now we also have to look at the words that Christ appends to all three of these items—almsgiving, praying, and fasting: they are to be in secret, and then our Father, who sees in secret, will reward them openly. This statement of assurance is necessary for Christians who are upright in their performance of these works. In the world they certainly see their works slandered and covered up and concealed in such a way that no ungodly person can see them; and if he does see them, he will not admit it, even with his eyes open. Take our own case as an example. No one sees the good that we achieve and accomplish by the grace of God. The whole world does nothing but denounce us as people who despise and forbid praying, fasting, and all good works, who are the cause of misfortune and unrest. But they shall not see our prayer, whether public or private, even though they hear it and stand right next to us as we are doing it. In fact, they would like to attack us in public, while we are doing good and helping to keep the peace. God has so ordained it, as Scripture says (Is. 26:10), that no wicked person shall see the majesty of God, that is, everything that God says and does. As Isaiah also says (Is. 6:10): “Harden the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their open eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and are converted.”
That is the way it is with us, too, in both our doctrine and our life. I am sure that our Gospel is not hidden in itself, but broadcast so widely that they all see and hear it. Otherwise they would not rage against it so furiously. Nevertheless they cannot see it, and they have to call it not “Gospel,” but “damned heresy.” Similarly, they do not see its fruits in us, the good works that we show even toward them as our enemies, humbling ourselves utterly before them, offering them peace and every good thing, and faithfully praying for them. Yet they cannot bring themselves to admit this, but this very fact causes them to persecute us with even greater cruelty. For the same reason they do not see our fasting either, the way our preachers willingly endure hunger and trouble in order to serve the people. But when they have a good, fat collation, at which they fast with three or four courses, that is something precious and very saintly! Likewise our praying must be regarded as worthless in comparison with their babbling and howling in the churches.
You see, the whole of the Christian life has to be hidden and remain hidden this way. It cannot achieve great fame or put on much of a display or show before the world. So let it go at that. Do not worry about the way it is hidden, covered up, and buried, and the way no one sees it or notices it. Be content with the fact that your Father up there in heaven sees it. He has sharp eyes and can see a very long distance, even though it may be concealed by big, dark clouds and buried deep in the earth. Consequently the life of all Christians is intended for the eyes of God alone, and that is how it all comes out. We could live any way we pleased, and we could do as well as possible. Still what we did could not make the world satisfied or content or thankful, and it does not really deserve our help and kindness. Therefore we must give the world its walking papers again and send it home to the devil. With our confident declarations we must defy it and sing:
Let the world go or let it come,
It has no sense, the world is dumb.19
It is enough that our action is intended to satisfy and to glorify the One who sees it. God willing, the world will not make us start or stop anything with its thanks or its abuse, its anger or its laughter. We cannot make it any different from the way it has always been. Then why should we strive after its honor or its gratitude, which we cannot obtain? No, this we will commend to the scoundrels who wear rosaries around their necks, who howl day and night in the choir, who devour nothing but fish and stinking oil, and who do nothing but lost works. Let them have the honor and glory of the world. They deserve each other and they belong together, like cattle and stall, at the rear of the devil. As the works are, so the one who applauds the works should be, so that one villain may praise another.
One part of the consolation is in our knowledge that the world is not worthy of us, but that we have another One in heaven, who sees us and our works. The other part is in His statement: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Not only will it be seen, it will be rewarded—and not secretly but openly, for the whole world to see it, together with its own eternal ignominy. Therefore let Him handle it. He will not leave it back there in the darkness, but He will bring it to the light of day; and He will do so on earth, in the sight of the people, as Psalm 37 teaches and consoles us (Ps. 37:5, 6): “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will do it well. He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and He will make your cause so clear that it will shine like the dear sun at noonday.” Look how shamefully the dear martyrs were murdered, and yet now they shine forth so brightly that by comparison the whole world is nothing but a stench. Thus before our own time John Hus was condemned in an abominable fashion that was unheard of before, and they supposed that his name was obliterated forever. Yet now he is shining forth with such glory that his cause and his teaching have to be praised before the whole world, while the pope’s cause lies ignominiously in the manure.
So let us be shoveled under now and stay in hiding. The time will come when God will pull us out for our cause and our way of life to shine before the eyes of the whole world even in this life, but still more gloriously on that day. Then some poor man will step forward with his fruit and his good works, and he will put the whole papacy and the world to shame. He will be sheer light and brilliance; they will be nothing but filth. We have to cling to the Word of Christ, and we must not let it bother or annoy us that now the world besmirches us and casts us off into darkness. We must look to Him and do everything for His sake. For the work and the Word of God cannot remain in obscurity. It must come forth into the light, regardless of how deeply it is covered up and buried. Whenever I have looked at the papacy, I myself have been amazed at how the devil has managed to use the abominations of the pope to throw the dear Gospel into a manure pile and a puddle, how he has buried it so deeply under the perversion of Masses, purgatory, and innumerable other things that it seemed impossible to me for the truth ever to come out from under all this. Still it had to come out, precisely when it was down the deepest and when they were thinking that they would remain in control forever.
That is what happened to Christ Himself. They had put Him under the ground, and they thought He was buried so deep that no one would ever sing or speak His name again. But just then He flashed forth, and by His Word He began to shine so brilliantly that it destroyed them. This ought to make us feel safe, too; for we have His Word that though our teaching and our works may be hidden now, they must come to the light and be praised in the presence of all the world—that is, unless God Himself stays in the dark.
You see, this is the promise given to us for our comfort and our admonition. We should exercise ourselves in genuine good works, without worrying because the world takes no notice of them. For the world is too blind to notice them. It does not recognize the Word and the works of God any more than it recognizes God Himself. It will never attain to the vision of how marvelous a baptized child is, or a Christian who receives the Sacrament and who gladly hears the Word of God. It must always look at these things as merely a waterbath or a piece of bread, or useless palaver. In the same way it fails to see what a man is doing when he properly fasts or prays. Therefore we commend it to the One who can see it, and we hope that He will bring disgrace upon the blind and crazy saints whose great and glittering performance now obscures the life and the works of Christians.
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:155). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Matthew 6:14,15 (Luther)

MATTHEW 6:14. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This is a remarkable addition, but a very precious one. Someone may well wonder why He should append this addition to this particular petition: “Forgive us our debts.” He could just as well have appended some such item to one of the others, and He could have said: “Give us our daily bread, as we give it to our children”; or, “Lead us not into temptation, as we do not tempt anyone”; or, “Deliver us from evil, as we save and deliver our neighbors.” Yet the only petition that has an addition of this sort is this one, and it gives the impression that the forgiveness of sins is accomplished and merited by our forgiving. Then what would become of our doctrine that forgiveness must come only through Christ and must be received in faith?
The answer to the first part of the question is this: by putting the petition this way and connecting the forgiveness of sin with our forgiving, He had the special purpose of making mutual love a Christian obligation, and the continual forgiveness of the neighbor the primary and foremost duty of Christians, second only to faith and the reception of forgiveness. As we live in faith toward Him, therefore, so also we should live in love toward our neighbor. We should not bring annoyance or injury upon one another, but keep in mind always to forgive one another even though we have been injured, as is inevitable in this life; we should know that otherwise we shall not be forgiven either. Where anger and ill will are an obstacle, this spoils the whole prayer and prevents one from being able to pray or to wish any of the preceding petitions either. You see, this means we must establish a firm and strong bond that will hold us together. When we plan to come before God in prayer for what we are to obtain, we must not be disunited or divided into schisms, factions, and sects, but we must be tolerant toward one another in love and remain of one mind. When this is the case, the Christian man is perfect; he believes correctly, and he loves correctly. Whatever other faults he may have, these are to be consumed in his prayer, and it is all forgiven and remitted.
But how is it that by these words He establishes such a close connection between forgiveness and our works when He says: “If you forgive your neighbor, you will be forgiven,” and vice versa? That does not seem to make forgiveness dependent upon faith. Answer: As I have often said elsewhere, the forgiveness of sins takes place in two ways: first inwardly, through the Gospel and the Word of God, which is received by faith in the heart toward God; second, outwardly through works, about which 2 Peter 1:10 says in its instructions regarding good works: “Dear brethren, be zealous to confirm your calling and election.” He means to say that we should confirm our possession of faith and the forgiveness of sin by showing our works, making the tree manifest by means of its fruit and making it evident that this is a sound tree and not a bad one (Matt. 7:17). Where there is a genuine faith, there good works will certainly follow, too. In this way a man is pious and upright, both inwardly and outwardly, both before God and before men. For this follows as the fruit by which I assure myself and others that I have a genuine faith; this is the only way I can know or see this.
In this passage, similarly, the outward forgiveness that I show in my deeds is a sure sign that I have the forgiveness of sin in the sight of God. On the other hand, if I do not show this in my relations with my neighbor, I have a sure sign that I do not have the forgiveness of sin in the sight of God but am still stuck in my unbelief. You see, this is the twofold forgiveness: one inward in the heart, clinging only to the Word of God; and one outward, breaking forth and assuring us that we have the inward one. This is how we distinguish works as outward righteousness from faith as inward righteousness, but in such a way that the inward has precedence as the stem and root from which the good works must grow as fruit. Outward righteousness, however, is the witness of this, and as Peter says, its “certification,” an assurance that the other is really present. Whoever lacks the inward righteousness does not do any of the outward works. On the other hand, where the outward signs and proofs are lacking, I cannot be sure of the inward, but I am deceiving both myself and others. But if I look and find myself gladly forgiving my neighbor, then I can draw this conclusion and say: “I am not doing this work naturally, but by the grace of God I feel different from the way I used to be.”
Let this brief answer suffice against the idle talk of the sophists. But it is also true that this work, as He discusses it here, is not a mere work like the others, which we do of ourselves; for it does not ignore faith. He takes the work and puts a promise on top of it, so that it might quite appropriately be called a sacrament, a means of strengthening faith. For example, Baptism, too, should be regarded as a work that I do when I baptize or am baptized. But since the word of God is present in it, it is not a mere work that amounts to something or accomplishes something of itself, but a divine word and sign upon which faith depends. In the same way, our prayers as our own work would not amount to anything or accomplish anything; but what makes it amount to something is the fact that it proceeds on the basis of His commandment and promise. For that reason it may well be regarded as a sacrament and as a divine work rather than a work ofour own.
The reason I say this is that the sophists pay attention to the works we do on our own, apart from the word and promise of God. Therefore, when they hear and read statements like these, making mention of works, they have to say that man merits this by his action. But the Scriptures teach us otherwise. We should not look to ourselves but to the word and promise of God, clinging to it by faith. Then if you do a work on the basis of this word and promise, you have a sure indication that God is gracious to you. In this way your own work, which God has now taken to Himself, is to be a sure sign of forgiveness for you.
Now God has provided us with various means, ways, and channels, through which to take hold of grace and the forgiveness of sin: first, Baptism and the Sacrament; also, as I have just said, prayer; also absolution; and our forgiveness throughout. Thus we are abundantly taken care of, and we can find grace and mercy everywhere. Where would you look for it any closer than with your neighbor, with whom you live every day and toward whom every day you have ample reason to practice this forgiveness? It is inevitable that you should be offended, deeply and often. It is, therefore, not only in the church or in the presence of the priest, but in the very midst of our own life, that we have a daily sacrament or baptism, one brother with another and everyone at home in his house. For if you take hold of the promise through this work, you have the very thing that you receive in Baptism. How could God have endowed us more richly with His grace than by hanging such a common baptism around our necks and attaching it to the Lord’s Prayer, a baptism that everyone discovers in himself when he prays and forgives his neighbor? Now, no one has any reason to complain or to make the excuse that he cannot get around to it, or that it is too sublime and distant for him, or that it is too difficult and expensive; for it has been brought home to him and his neighbor and planted on his very doorstep, in fact, put into his very bosom.
So you see that if you look at it not on the basis of the work itself but on the basis of the word that is attached to it, you find in it a wonderful and precious treasure. Now it is no longer your work, but a divine sacrament and a great and powerful comfort that you can attain to the grace of being able to forgive your neighbor, even though you may not be able to come to the other sacraments. This should prompt you to do this work gladly and from the heart and to thank God that you are worthy of such grace. You ought to pursue this even to the end of the world and spend everything you have for it, as we used to do for those fake indulgences. Whoever refuses to accept this must really be a shameful and accursed man, especially if he hears and acknowledges this grace and still remains so bent and stubborn that he refuses to forgive. By such a refusal he simultaneously loses both Baptism and the Sacrament, along with everything else. For they are all linked together, and whoever has one should have them all or keep none of them. Whoever is baptized should also receive the Sacrament; whoever receives the Sacrament must also pray; and whoever prays must also forgive. If you do not forgive, you have a terrible sentence here: your sins will not be forgiven either, even though you are in a Christian company and are enjoying the Sacrament and other benefits; in fact, your sins will damage and damn you all the more on account of this.
In order to arouse us even further in file direction of doing this, Christ has used kind and friendly words, saying, “If you forgive men their trespasses,” rather than saying “their malice and wickedness” or “their insolence and viciousness.” He uses “trespass” to designate the kind of sin that is committed more from weakness or ignorance than from malice. Now, why should He minimize and underemphasize the sin of our neighbor this way? After all, we often see many people sinning deliberately, out of sheer viciousness and a malicious will. He does it in order to put your anger to rest and to soften you so that you are glad to forgive. He is more interested in making your heart sweet and friendly than in making the sin as great as it really is in itself. For in the sight of God it is and should be great enough to be worthy of eternal damnation and to lock the gates of heaven, even though it is only a tiny sin or a failing, as long as the sinner does not confess it and beg your pardon for it.
But He does not want you and me to look at the sin this way. It is not up to us to punish the sin but to forgive it. This is the way you ought to think: although your neighbor has acted against you out of malice,8 still he is confused, captivated, and dazzled by the devil. Therefore you should be pious enough to take pity on him for being overpowered by the devil. As far as the devil is concerned, then, this may be called a great and unforgivable sin, since he has put the man up to it. But as far as the man himself is concerned, it should be called a trespass and a fault. This is what Christ Himself has done toward us by praying on the cross (Luke 23:34): “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” That minimized our sin and underemphasized it, though in itself it was the very greatest sin that had ever taken place on earth. For what greater sin can there be than this shameful torture and murder of God’s only Son?
Yet you must treat this mistake and fault in such a way that the neighbor who has sinned against you confesses it, asks for forgiveness, and decides to improve. Elsewhere9 I have said that there are two kinds of sin: one kind is confessed, and this no one should leave unforgiven; the other kind is defended, and this no one can forgive, for it refuses either to be counted as sin or to accept forgiveness. When Christ talks about forgiveness or the keys in Matthew 18:18, therefore, He puts the two side by side, loosing and binding, to make this clear. It is impossible to loose a sin which a person refuses to acknowledge as a sin that needs to be forgiven; such a sin should be bound to the abyss of hell. On the other hand, those sins that are confessed should be loosed and elevated to heaven. This provision in the Office of the Keys also applies to the relation of every Christian with his neighbor. He should be ready to forgive everyone that injures him. And yet, if someone refuses to acknowledge the sin and to stop it, but persists in it, you cannot forgive him—not on your account but on his, because he refuses to accept the forgiveness. But as soon as he owns up to being guilty and requests forgiveness, everything must be granted, and the absolution must follow right away. Since he is punishing himself and desisting from his sin, so that there is no longer any sin about him, I should let the matter of his sin drop. But if he holds on to it and refuses to drop it, I cannot take it from him but must let him remain stuck in it; for he himself has changed a forgivable sin into an unforgivable one. In other words, if he refuses to confess, his conscience must be burdened as heavily as possible, without any sign of grace; for he stubbornly insists upon being the devil’s own. On the other hand, if he confesses his sin and begs your pardon but you refuse to forgive him, you have loaded the sin upon yourself, and it will condemn you as well.
By referring to a sin as a “trespass,” therefore, Christ means that it should be confessed; He does not mean to deny that it is wrong. Nor is He making it your duty to approve of it as if it were the right kind of behavior. Rather, you should treat it as right or good only on the condition that it has become forgivable, so tiny as to be called only a fault. Then you can say to your neighbor: “I cannot approve of it, and it is still wrong. Nevertheless, because you make your confession and because your heart is different now and you have no resentment against me, I will gladly make the concession of calling it a fault and an oversight, and I will refrain from any anger.”
Now, if you take this attitude toward your neighbor, God will likewise treat you with that kind of sweet and friendly heart. That great and grave sin that you have committed against Him and are still committing, He will make so tiny that He will call it only a fault if you confess it and ask for forgiveness; for He is more inclined to forgive than we can imagine Him to be. To bribe God into having this kind of heart toward you, you would certainly be willing to surrender your body and life and to travel to the end of the world, the way people used to travel in the days of the papacy, torturing themselves for it with many kinds of works. But now such a heart is being offered to you here, presented and granted completely free, as are Baptism, the Gospel, and all His blessings. You receive more than you could ever acquire with all your works and the works of all men combined. Here you have a sure promise, one that neither deludes nor deceives you, that, however many or great all your sins may be, in His sight they are to be as tiny as mere everyday human weaknesses, which He will not count or remember as long as you have faith in Christ. Other Sacraments have their source and their power in Christ, the Lord. In the same way our prayer is heard, and we have certain forgiveness, not because we have deserved it, but because He has won it all for us and bestowed it upon us. Thus He always remains the only Mediator, through whom we have everything; even that forgiveness which is conditional upon our work of forgiving avails only through Him.
Now you see why Christ attached this addition to the prayer. He did so to establish the closest possible bonds between us and to preserve His Christendom in the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3), both in faith and in love. We must not let any sin or fault divide us or rob us of our faith and of everything else. It is inevitable that there be friction among us every day in all our social and business contacts, where things are said that you do not like to hear and things are done that you cannot stand. This gives rise to anger and discord. We still have our flesh and blood about us, behaving in its own way and easily letting slip an evil word or an angry gesture or action, which is an affront to love. Therefore there must be continual forgiveness among Christians, and we continually need forgiveness from God, always clinging to the prayer: “Forgive us, as we forgive.” That is, unless we are the kind of ungodly people who are always more ready to see a speck in our neighbor’s eye than the log in our own (Matt. 7:3) and throw our own sin behind us. If we were to look at ourselves every day from morning till evening, we would find ourselves so infested that we would forget about other people and be glad that we have a chance to pray.
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:148). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Matthew 6:7-13 (Luther)

Matthew 6:7. And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9. Pray, then, like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
10. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11. Give us this day our daily bread;
12. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors;
13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Earlier He had denounced their false motivation in prayer, namely, the fact that they sought their own glory and profit among people, even in a work which was aimed at God alone, calling upon Him and asking for His help in our need and temptation. Now He goes on to denounce the false manner of their prayers, that is, the fact that they supposed praying meant using many words and babbling. He calls it the manner of the Gentiles, a reckless and worthless prattle, the sort of thing that would come from people who supposed that they would not be heard otherwise. For He saw very well that this would develop and that the same sort of abuse would continue in Christendom that existed among them already in those days: that prayer would become a mere work, to be judged on the basis of its size and length, as though this made it a precious accomplishment; and that instead of true prayer there would be mere jabbering and babbling, which did not belong to the experience of the heart. As we can see, this is what has happened to the inmates of the monasteries and the cloisters and to our whole clergy, whose way of life seems to have involved no other work than beating themselves and wearing themselves out every day with so many hours, as well as singing and reading their canonical hours at night. The more of this they could do, the holier and greater an act of worship did it seem. Yet amid all this, there was not a single one who spoke a genuine prayer from his heart; but they were all laboring under the gentile delusion that prayer meant making both God and oneself tired with yelling and murmuring, as though He neither could nor would listen any other way. And all they achieved by this was a useless waste of time; like asses, they simply punished themselves with their praying.
For this reason they themselves have said that there is no harder work than prayer. And of course, this is true if the aim is to turn prayer into a work or a chore which the body is forced to undertake, reading or singing for so many hours in a row. Therefore any day laborer would prefer to work at threshing for an entire day to just moving his mouth for two or three hours in a row or staring straight at a book.
In short, their prayers have not been the sighs or petitions of their hearts, but merely the slave labor of their mouths or their tongues. Even though a monk may have been reading or muttering his canonical times for forty years, he has not prayed from his heart for a single hour during all those years. They never think of this as an opportunity to present a need to God; all they think of is their own obligation to do this, and God’s to pay attention to all this trouble and toil.
But the Christian’s prayer is easy, and it does not cause hard work. For it proceeds in faith on the basis of the promise of God, and it presents its need from the heart. Faith quickly gets through telling what it wants; indeed, it does so with a sigh that the heart utters and that words can neither attain nor express. As Paul says (Rom. 8:26), “the Spirit prays.” And because He knows that God is listening to Him, He has no need of such everlasting twaddle. That is how the saints prayed in the Scriptures, like Elijah, Elisha, David, and others—with brief but strong and powerful words. This is evident in the Psalter, where there is hardly a single psalm that has a prayer more than five or six verses long. Therefore the ancient fathers have said correctly that many long prayers are not the way. They recommend short, fervent prayers, where one sighs toward heaven with a word or two, as is often quite possible in the midst of reading, writing, or doing some other task.4
But the others, who make it nothing but a work of drudgery, can never pray with gladness or with devotion. They are glad when they are finally through with their babbling. And so it must be. Where there is no faith and no feeling of need in a petition, there the heart cannot be involved either. But where the heart is not involved and the body has to do all the work, there it becomes difficult drudgery. This is evident even in physical work. How difficult and dreary it is for the person who is doing something unwillingly! But on the other hand, if the heart is cheerful and willing, then it does not even notice the work. So it is here, too: the man who is serious in his intentions and takes pleasure in prayer neither knows nor feels any toil and trouble; he simply looks at his need, and he has finished singing or praying the words before he has a chance to turn around. In other words, prayers ought to be brief, frequent, and intense. For God5 does not ask how much and how long you have prayed, but how good the prayer is and whether it proceeds from the heart.
Therefore Christ says now: “Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask for it.” It is as if He would say: “What are you up to? Do you suppose that you will talk Him down with your long babbling and make Him give you what you need? There is no need for you to persuade Him with your words or to give Him detailed instructions; for He knows beforehand what you need, even better than you do yourself.” If you came before a prince or a judge who knew your case better than you could describe it to him and tried to give him a long-winded account of it, he would have a perfect right to laugh at you or, more likely, to become displeased with you. Indeed, as St. Paul says (Rom. 8:26), “We do not know how we are to pray.” Therefore when He hears us, whatever He gives us is something in excess of our understanding or our hopes. Sometimes He lets us go on asking for something which He does not give right away, or perhaps does not give at all, knowing very well what is necessary and useful for us and what is not. We ourselves do not see this, but finally we have to admit that it would not have been good for us if He had done His giving on the basis of our petition. Therefore we must not go into a long harangue to give Him instructions or prescriptions about what He should do for us and how He should do it. He intends to give in such a way that His name might be hallowed, His kingdom extended, and His will advanced.
But you may say: “Since He knows and sees all our needs better than we do ourselves, why does He let us bring our petitions and present our need, instead of giving it to us without our petitioning? After all, He freely gives the whole world so much good every day, like the sun, the rain, crops and money, body and life, for which no one asks Him or thanks Him. He knows that no one can get along for a single day without light, food, and drink. Then why does He tell us to ask for these things?”
The reason He commands it is, of course, not in order to have us make our prayers an instruction to Him as to what He ought to give us, but in order to have us acknowledge and confess that He is already bestowing many blessings upon us and that He can and will give us still more. By our praying, therefore, we are instructing ourselves more than we are Him. It makes me turn around so that I do not proceed as do the ungodly, neither acknowledging this nor thanking Him for it. When my heart is turned to Him and awakened this way, then I praise Him, thank Him, take refuge with Him in my need, and expect help from Him. As a consequence of all this, I learn more and more to acknowledge what kind of God He is. Because I seek and knock at His door (Matt. 7:7), He takes pleasure in giving me ever more generous gifts. You see, that is how a genuine petitioner proceeds. He is not like those other useless babblers, who prattle a great deal but who never recognize all this. He knows that what he has is a gift of God, and from his heart he says: “Lord, I know that of myself I can neither produce nor preserve a piece of my daily bread; nor can I defend myself against any kind of need or misfortune. Therefore I shall look to Thee for it and request it from Thee, since Thou dost command me this way and dost promise to give it to me, Thou who dost anticipate my every thought and sympathize with my every need.”
You see, a prayer that acknowledges this truly pleases God. It is the truest, highest, and most precious worship which we can render to Him; for it gives Him the glory that is due Him. The others do not do this. Like pigs, they grab all the gifts of God and devour them. They take over one country or city or house after another. They never consider whether they should be paying attention to God. Meanwhile they lay claim to holiness, with their many loud tones and noises in church. But a Christian heart is one that learns from the Word of God that everything we have is from God and nothing is from ourselves. Such a heart accepts all this in faith and practices it, learning to look to Him for everything and to expect it from Him. In this way praying teaches us to recognize who we are and who God is, and to learn what we need and where we are to look for it and find it. The result of this is an excellent, perfect, and sensible man, one who can maintain the right relationship to all things.
Having denounced and rejected these false and useless prayers, Christ now proceeds to introduce an excellent and brief formula. It shows how we are to pray and what we are to pray for. It includes all sorts of needs which ought to impel us to pray and of which we can daily remind ourselves with these short words. There is no excuse for anyone now, as though he did not know how or what to pray. Hence it is a very good practice, especially for the common man and for children and servants in the household, to pray the entire Lord’s Prayer every day, morning and evening and at table, and otherwise, too, as a way of presenting all sorts of general needs to God. But since the Lord’s Prayer has been adequately expounded in the Catechism and elsewhere,6 I will leave it at that and add no further comments here.
As has often been said, however, this is certainly the very best prayer that ever came to earth or that anyone could ever have thought up. Because God the Father composed it through His Son and placed it into His mouth, there is no need for us to doubt that it pleases Him immensely. At the very beginning He warns us to remember both His command and His promise, in the word “Our Father.” He it is who demands this glory from us, that we should put our petitions to Him, as a child does to its father. He also wants us to have the confidence that He will gladly give us what we need. Also included is the reminder that we should glory in being His children through Christ. And so we come, on the basis of His command and His promise, and in the name of Christ, the Lord; and we present ourselves before Him with all confidence.
Now the first, second, and third petitions deal with the highest benefits that we receive from Him. In the first place, because He is our Father, He should receive from us the glory that is due Him, and His name should be held in high esteem throughout the world. By this petition I pile up on one heap every kind of false belief and worship, all of hell, and all sin and blasphemy. And I ask Him to put a stop to the blasphemous belief of the pope, the Turk, the schismatic spirits, and the heretics, all of whom desecrate and profane His name or seek their own glory under the pretext of His name. This is indeed only a brief phrase, but its meaning extends as far as the world and opposes all false doctrine and life.
In the second place, once we have His Word, true doctrine, and true worship, we also pray that His kingdom may be in us and remain in us; that is, that He may govern us in this doctrine and life, that He may protect and preserve us against all the power of the devil and his kingdom, and that He may shatter all the kingdoms that rage against His kingdom, so that it alone may remain. And in the third place, we pray that neither our will nor any other man’s will, but His will alone may be done, and that what He plans and counsels may succeed and overcome all the schemes and undertakings of the world, as well as anything else that may set itself against His plans and counsels, even though the whole world were to mass itself and rally all its strength to defend its cause against Him. These are the three most important elements.
In the other four petitions we meet the needs that apply to our own daily life and to this poor, weak, and temporal existence. Therefore our first petition here is that He may give us our daily bread—that is, everything necessary for the preservation of this life, like food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government, and peace—and that He may preserve us from all sorts of calamities, sickness, pestilence, hard times, war, revolution, and the like. Our next petition is this: that He may forgive us our debts and not look upon the shameful and thankless7 way we misuse the benefits with which He daily provides us in such abundance; that this may not prompt Him to deny us these benefits or to withdraw them or to punish us with the disfavor we deserve; but that He may graciously pardon us, although we who are called “Christians” and “children of God” do not live as we should. The third of these petitions is brought on by the fact that we are living on earth, amid all sorts of temptation and trouble, with attacks from every side. Thus the source of the hindrance and the temptation we experience is not only external, from the world and the devil, but also internal, from our own flesh. Amid so much danger and temptation, we cannot live the way we should; nor would we be able to stand it for a single day. We ask Him, therefore, to sustain us in the midst of this danger and need so that it does not overcome and destroy us. And our final petition is that He would ultimately deliver us completely from all evil, and when the time comes for us to pass out of this life, that He would bestow upon us a gracious and blessed hour of death. In this brief compass we have laid all our physical and spiritual needs into His lap, and each individual word has summarized an entire world of meaning.
But in the text there is a small addition with which He concludes the prayer, a sort of thanksgiving and common confession, namely this: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.” These are really the titles and names that are appropriate to God alone, for these three things He has reserved for Himself—to govern, to judge, and to glory. No one has a right to judge or to rule or to have sovereignty except God alone, or those whom He has commissioned with it, those through whom, as His servants, He maintains His rule. In the same way, no man may exercise judgment over another, or become angry at him and punish him, unless he has the office to do so on God’s behalf. For this is not a right innate in men, but one given by God. These are the two things that He names here: “the kingdom,” that is, the sovereignty by which all authority is His; and then “the power,” that is, the consequence of His authority, its execution, by which He can punish, subject the wicked to Himself, and protect the pious. For he who punishes is doing so in God’s stead; all administering of justice, all protecting and preserving, is derived from His power. Therefore no one should wreak vengeance or exact punishment on his own; for it does not lie within his official capacity or ability, and it does not do any good either. As He says (Rom. 12:19): “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay”; and elsewhere He threatens (Matt. 26:52): “All who take the sword for vengeance will be punished by the sword.”
In the same way “the glory,” or honor or praise, belongs only to God. No one may boast of anything, his wisdom or holiness or ability, except through Him and from Him. When I honor a king or a prince and call him “gracious lord” or bend my knee before him, I am not doing this to him on account of his own person but on account of God, to one who is sitting in majesty in God’s stead. It is the same when I show honor to my father and mother or to those who are in their stead. I am not doing this to a human being but to a divine office, and I am honoring God in them. Wherever there is authority and power, therefore, the glory and the praise belong to Him. And so His kingdom, power, and glory prevail throughout the world. It is He alone that is ruling, punishing, and being glorified in the divine offices and stations, like those of father, mother, master, judge, prince, king, and emperor. The devil is opposing this through his minions. He himself is seeking to exercise the authority and power, to wreak the vengeance and exact the punishment, and to monopolize all the glory. That is why the petitions for His name, His kingdom, and His will are foremost here; for they alone must prevail, and all other names, kingdoms, powers, and wills must be shattered. Thus we acknowledge that He is supreme in all three of these areas, but that the others are His instruments, by which He acts to accomplish these things.
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:141). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Matthew 6:5,6 (Luther)

Matthew 6:5. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogs and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

In addition to almsgiving or doing good to our neighbor, praying is another work that is appropriate to the Christian. Just as the necessities of this life require us to do good to our neighbor and to sympathize with him in his need—after all, that is why we live together on earth, so that we might serve and help one another—so the constant threat to us in this life from every kind of inevitable danger and unavoidable need requires us to call upon God continually and to seek His help, both on our own behalf and on behalf of everyone else. But true almsgiving is a rare thing in this world. Not only is there so much ordinary robbing and stealing going on everywhere in the world that no one does anything good for his neighbor, but goes on scratching on his own manure pile without asking how his neighbor is getting along. But even if they do good works, they are only looking out for their own advantage. Thus the world is made up of nothing but robbers and thieves, both on the right and on the left, both physically and spiritually, both in bad works and in good works.
In the same way, praying is a rare work, which no one does but Christians. At the same time it was very common in the world. It was especially common among the Jews, as Christ shows here, in their synagogs and on street corners. And it is a common thing now in all these churches, monasteries, and convents. Day and night they are muttering and bawling with their singing and reading, and they fill the whole world with it. There is no shortage of praying; and yet if you put it all together, it is not worth a heller. Here Christ is denouncing and repudiating all their praying, in spite of the fact that they were practicing it so zealously, though only in order to make an impression on people and to get a reputation for piety. How much more damnable is the praying of our clergy! All they want to accomplish by it is to fill their own belly, and not one of them would say an Our Father if it did not bring him some money. Even when they have done their best, they have mumbled or chanted a sackful of words without feeling them or understanding them or believing them, as though they were bells or organs. In this way they have acquired a glorious reputation for being the only people who pray, while the other people are too occupied with secular affairs to be able to pray or serve God, so that they have to pray in our stead and we have to make lords of them by our money and goods.
Here we shall not go into the matter of how necessary prayer is, because of ourselves we ought to feel this. For we live in flesh and blood that is crammed full of wickedness of every sort. In addition, the world is always with us and against us, bringing all our misery and sorrow and trouble upon us. Besides, there is the devil everywhere around us, stirring up innumerable sects, factions, and corruptions, and driving us into unbelief and despair. Thus there is never any end to this, and there is no rest for us. We are surrounded by the kind of enemies who will not stop until they have knocked us down, and as individual poor men we are much too weak to withstand so many enemies. For that reason God says in the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 12:10) that He will give to those who are His own “the Spirit of grace and supplication” to preserve them while they are on the field of battle and to guard and protect them against that wicked and pernicious spirit. Therefore it is the particular work of Christians, who have the Spirit of God, not to be lax and lazy, but incessant and constant in their praying, as Christ teaches elsewhere (Luke 18:1).
But here the emphasis is on the fact that it must be a genuine prayer and not a piece of hypocrisy, as their prayers were and as our own used to be. Therefore, in instructing them how to pray correctly, Christ begins by showing them how they should go about it: they are not supposed to stand and pray publicly on the streets, but they should pray at home, in their own room, alone, in secret. This means that, above all, they should rid themselves of the false motive of praying for the sake of the appearance or reputation or anything of that sort. It does not mean that prayer on the street or in public is prohibited; for a Christian is not bound to any particular place and may pray anywhere, whether he is on the street or in the field or in church. All it means is that this must not be done out of regard for other people, as a means of getting glory or profit. In the same way He does not forbid the blowing of a trumpet or the ringing of a bell at almsgiving for its own sake, but He denounces the addition of a false motivation when He says: “in order to be seen by men.”
Nor is it a necessary part of this commandment that you have to go into a room and lock yourself in. Still, it is a good idea for a person to be alone when he intends to pray, so that he can pour out his prayer to God in a free and uninhibited manner, using words and gestures that he could not use if he were in human company. Although it is true that prayer can take place in the heart without any words or gestures, yet such things help in stirring up and enkindling the spirit even more; but in addition, the praying should continue in the heart almost without interruption. As we have said, a Christian always has the Spirit of supplication with him, and his heart is continually sending forth sighs and petitions to God, regardless of whether he happens to be eating or drinking or working. For his entire life is devoted to spreading the name of God, His glory, and His kingdom, so that whatever else he may do has to be subordinated to this.2
Nevertheless, I say, outward prayer must also go on, both individual prayer and corporate prayer. In the morning and in the evening, at table and whenever he has time, every individual should speak a benediction or the Our Father or the Creed or a psalm. And in assemblies the Word of God should be employed and thanks and petitions voiced to God for our general needs. This must necessarily be done in public, with a special time and place set aside for such assemblies. Such prayer is a precious thing and a powerful defense against the devil and his assaults. For in it, all Christendom combines its forces with one accord; and the harder it prays, the more effective it is and the sooner it is heard. At the present time, for example, it is of real benefit as a defense and a barrier against the many tricks which the devil might otherwise perpetrate through the members of his body. Thus it is certain that whatever still stands and endures, whether it is in the spiritual or in the secular realm, is being preserved through prayer.
But elsewhere I have often taken up and discussed the component parts and the characteristics which every real prayer has to possess,3 and therefore I shall only summarize them briefly here. They are as follows: first, the urging of God’s commandment, who has strictly required us to pray; second, His promise, in which He declares that He will hear us; third, an examination of our own need and misery, which burden lies so heavily on our shoulders that we have to carry it to God immediately and pour it out before Him, in accordance with His order and commandment; fourth, true faith, based on this word and promise of God, praying with the certainty and confidence that He will hear and help us—and all these things in the name of Christ, through whom our prayer is acceptable to the Father and for whose sake He gives us every grace and every good.
Christ indicates this by His use of one word when He says: “Pray to your Father who is in secret”; and later on He makes it even more explicit when He says: “Our Father who art in heaven.” For this is the same as teaching that our prayer should be addressed to God as our gracious and friendly father, not as a tyrant or an angry judge. Now, no one can do this unless he has a word of God which says that He wants to have us call Him “Father” and that as a father He has promised to hear us and help us. To do this, one must also have such a faith in his heart and a happy courage to call God his Father, praying on the basis of a hearty confidence, relying upon the certainty that the prayer will be heard, and then waiting for help.
But all these component parts were missing from the prayers of those Pharisees, who did not think beyond the question of how the work was to be done in order to give the impression that they were holy people who enjoyed praying; similarly, all that our monks and priests think of is how to use prayer as a means of filling their belly. So completely have they forgotten the necessity of this faith for proper prayer that it seems foolish or presumptuous to them for a person to claim with certainty that his prayer is pleasing to God and will be heard by Him. Although they kept on praying, therefore, they regarded it all as completely a risk; and thus they angered God terribly by their unbelief and their abuse of His name, contrary to both the First and the Second Commandment.
Learn, therefore, that there can be no real prayer without this faith. But do you feel weak and fearful? Your flesh and blood is always putting obstacles in the way of faith, as if you were not worthy enough or ready enough or earnest enough to pray. Or do you doubt that God has heard you, since you are a sinner? Then hold on to the Word and say: “Though I am sinful and unworthy, still I have the commandment of God, telling me to pray, and His promise that He will graciously hear me, not on account of my worthiness, but on account of the Lord Christ.” In this way you can chase away the thoughts and the doubts, and you can cheerfully kneel down to pray. You need not consider whether you are worthy or unworthy; all you need to consider is your need and His Word, on which He tells you to build. This is especially so because He has set before you the manner of praying and put into your mouth the words you are to use when you pray, as follows here. Thus you may joyfully send up these prayers through Him and put them into His bosom, so that through His own merit He may bring them before the Father.
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:137). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.