Papists when they wish to
substitute their self-chosen
works for good works. 49f.
VII. Good works are to be learn-
ed from the example of
VIII. A judgment upon the good
works of the Papists. 53.
IX. Good works cannot help us
in tlie face of sin, death and
X. What we are to answer the
Papists when they ascribe
the merit of salvation to
their good works. 55f.
* Wliere there is no love
ther is no faith. 55-56.
XI. Man should do good works
but not trust in them. 57.
* The Lesson Story and the
Jews' False Notions Con-
cerning the Messiah.
1. By what means God seeks
to remove their false
2. In what this false notion
3. How all the prophets, but
have powerfully over-
thrown this false no-
III. THE SPIRITUAL MEANING
OF THIS GOSPEL.
The spiritual meaning,
1. Of the procession, or that
Christ comes to Jerusalem.
2. That Christ sends forth two
of his disciples as he comes
near to Jerusalem. 63.
3. That Christ comes unto
4. That Christ commissioned
his disciples. 65.
5. Of the Mount of Olives. 66.
6. That Christ sends two dis-
7. That Christ does not name
the exact spot where he
sends his disciples. 68.
S. That Christ calls Jerusalem
a village. 69-70.
9. That the disciples find the
ass and colt without hunt-
ing for them. 71-72.
10. That Christ had them to
bring two, an old and a
young ass. 73-76.
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT. i
11. That Christ told them to 18. Of the garments and the
loose them. <7. branches form the trees,
12. That Christ told his disci- they spread in the way be-
ples to bring them to him. , fore Christ. 90.
78. How a truly Christian ser-
13. Of the owners of the ass gf " ^^^^^^^ ^^- Â«^tlined.
and colt and the relation 19. of the spreading of their
of the disciples to these garments in the way. 92
owners. (9-Sl. 20. Of cutting the branches
^^^:?''i^ ^vf.^h^rf'^ifilf.H^u^ *'^'^^^ the trees and spread-
Gospel, he has fulfilled it. jng them in the way. 93.
Â°'^' 21. That the branches named
14. That the disciples place Je- were palm and olive branch-
sus upon the colt. 83-84. es. 94-97.
* Whether Christ rode upon * ^.H who are to be saved
the colt or its mother, or must be saved by Chris-
upon both. 84. tian faith. 97.
15. That Christ rides upon the 22. Of the multitudes that went
the colt and its mother fol- before him and that fol-
lows. 85-86. lowed. 97-98.
16. Of their garments the dis- 23. Of the Hosanna, that is then
ciples placed under Christ. sung. 99-100.
87-88. * An opinion on the perver-
17. That the disciples place Je- sion and misuse of the
sus upon them. 89. word Hosianna.
1. In the preface I said that there are two things to be noted
and considered in the Gospel lessons : first, the works of Christ
presented to us as a gift and blessing on which our faith is
to cling and exercise itself; secondly, the same works offered
as an example and model for us to imitate and follow. All the
Gospel lessons thus throw light first on faith and then on good
works. We will therefore consider this Gospel under three
heads: speaking first of faith; secondly of good works, and
thirdly of the lesson story and its hidden meaning.
I. CONCERNING FAITH.
2. This Gospel encourages and demands faith, for it pre-
figures Christ coming with grace, whom none may receive or
accept save he who believes him to be the man, and has the
mind, as this Gospel portrays in Christ. Nothing but the
mercy, tenderness and kindness of Christ are here shown,
and he who so receives and believes on him is saved. He sits
not upon a proud steed, an animal of w^ar, nor does he come in
great pomp and power, but sitting upon an ass, an animal of
peace fit only for burdens and labor and a help to man. He indi-
cates by this that he comes not to frighten man, nor to drive
or crush him, but to help him and to carry his burden for him.
And although It was the custom of the country to ride on asses
and to use horses for war, as the Scriptures often tell us, yet
20 luthkr's church tostil.
here the object is to show that the entrance of this king shall
be meek and lowly.
Again it also shows the pomp and conduct of the disciples
towards Christ who bring the colt to Christ, set him thereon,
and spread their garments in the way; also that of the multi-
tude who also spread their garments in the way and cut
branches from the trees. They manifested no fear nor terror,
but only blessed confidence in him as one for whom they dared
to do such things and who would take it kindly and readily
consent to it.
3. Again, he begins his journey and comes to the Mount
of Olives to indicate that he comes out of pure mercy. For
olive oil in the Scriptures signifies the grace of God that
soothes and strengthens the soul as oil soothes and strengthens
4. Thirdly, there is no armor present, no war-cry, but
songs and praise, rejoicing and thanksgiving to the Lord.
5. Fourthly, Christ weeps, as Luke 19, 41, writes, weeps
over Jerusalem because she does not know nor receive such
grace; yet he was so grieved at her loss that he did not deal
harshly with her.
6. Fifthly, his goodness and mercy are best shown when
he quotes the words of the prophets, Isa. 62, 11; Zach. 9,9,
and tenderly invites men to believe and accept Christ, for the
fulfilling of v/hich prophecies the events of this Gospel took
place and the story was written, as the Evangelist himself
testifies. Therefore we must look upon this verse as the chief
part of this Gospel, for in it Christ is pictured to us and we
are told what we are to believe, and to expect of him, what
we are to seek in him, and how we may be benefited by him.
7. First he says: ''TcU ye" the daughter of Zion. This is
said to the ministry and a new sermon is given them to preach,
namely, nothing but what the words following indicate, a right
knowledge of Christ. Whoever preaches anything else is a
wolf and deceiver. This is one of the verses in which the
Gospel is promised of which Paul writes in Rom. 1,2; for
the Gospel is a sermon from Christ, as he is here placed before
us, calling for faith in hi'm. Â»
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT. 21
8. I have often said that there are two kinds of faith.
First, a faith in which you indeed beHeve that Christ is such
a man as he is described and proclaimed here and in all the
Gospels, but do not believe that he is such a man for you, and
are in doubt whetlier you have any part in him and think:
Yes, he is such a man to others, to Peter, Paul, and the
blessed saints; but who knows that he is such to me and that
I may expect the same from him and may confide in it, as these
9. Behold, this faith is nothing, it does not receive Christ
nor enjoy him, neither can it feel any love and affection for
him or from him. It is a faith about Christ and not in or of
Christ, a faith which the devils also have as well as evil men.
For who is it that does not believe that Christ is a gracious
king to the saints ? This vain and wicked faith is now taught
by the pernicious synagogues of Satan. The universities
(Paris and her sister schools), together with the monasteries
and all Papists, say that this faith is sufficient to make Chris-
tians. In this way they virtually deny Christian faith, make
heathen and Turks out of Christians, as St. Peter in 2 Pet. 2,
1 had foretold: "There shall be false teachers, who shall
privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master
that bought them."
10. In the second place he particularly mentions, "The
daughter of Zion." In these words he refers to the other, the
true faith. For if he commands that the following words con-
cerning Christ be proclaimed, there must be some one to hear,
to receive, and to treasure them in firm faith. He does not say :
Tell of the daughter of Zion, as if some one were to believe that
she has Christ ; but to her you are to say that she is to believe it
of herself, and not in any wise doubt that it will be fulfilled aÂ»
the words declare. That alone can be called Christian faith,
which believes without wavering that Christ is the Saviour
not only to Peter and to the saints but also to you. Your sal-
vation does not depend on the fact that you believe Christ to
be the Saviour of the godly, but that he is a Saviour to you
and has become your own.
11. Such a faith will work in you love for Christ and joy
22 luthkr's church postil.
in him, and good works will naturally follow. If they do not,
faith is surely not present ; for where faith is, there the Holy
Ghost is and must work love and good works.
12. This faith is condemned by apostate and rebellious
Christians, the pope, bishops, priests, monks, and the univer-
sities. They call it arrogance to desire to be like the saints.
Thereby they fulfill the prophecy of Peter in 2 Pet. 2, 2, where
he says of these false teachers : ''By reason of whom the way
of the truth shall be evil spoken of." For this reason, when
they hear faith praised, they think love and good works are
prohibited. In their great blindness they do not know what
faith, love and good works are. If you would be a Christian
you must permit these words to be spoken to you and hold
fast to them and believe without a doubt that you will experi-
ence what they say. You must not consider it arrogance that
in this you are like the saints, but rather a necessary humility
and despair not of God's grace but of your own worthiness.
Under penalty of the loss of salvation, does God ask for bold-
ness toward his proffered grace. If you do not desire to
become holy like the saints, where will you abide? That
would be arrogance if you desired to be saved by your own
merit and works, as the Papists teach. They call that aro-
gance which is faith, and that faith which is arrogance ; poor,
miserable, deluded people!
13. If you believe in Christ and in his advent, it is the
highest praise and thanks to God to be holy. If you recognize,
love, and magnify his grace and work in you, and cast aside
and condemn self and the works of self, then are you a Chris-
tian. We say : "I believe in the holy Christian church, the com-
munion of saints." Do you desire to be a part of the holy
Christian church and communion of saints, you must also be
holy as she is, yet not of yourself but through Christ alone in
whom all are holy.
14. Thirdly he says: "Behold.'' With this word he rouses
us at once from sleep and unbelief as though he had something
great, strange, or remarkable to offer, something we have long
wished for and now would receive with joy. Such waking up
is necessary for the reason that everything that concerns faith
t'lRST SUNDAY IN ADVE^NT.
us against reason and nature ; for example, how can nature and
reason comprehend that such an one should be king of Jerusa-
lem who enters in such poverty and humility as to ride upon
a borrowed ass? How does such an advent become a great
king ? But faith is of the nature that it does not judge nor
reason by what it sees or feels but by what it hears. It depends
upon the Word alone and not on vision or sight. For this
reason Christ was received as a king only by the followers
of the word of the prophet, by the believers in Christ, by
those who judged and received hi's kingdom not by sight
but by the spirit â€” these are the true daughters of Zion.
For it is not possible for those not to be offended in
Christ who walk by sight and feeling and do not adhere firmly
to the Word.
15. Let us receive first and hold fast this picture in which
the nature of faith is placed before us. For as the appear-
ance and object of faith as here presented is contrary to nature
and reason^ so the same ineft'ectual and unreasonable appear-
ance is to be found in all articles and instances of faith. It
would be no faith if it appeared and acted as faith acts and
as the words indicate. It is faith because it does not appear
and deport itself as faith and as the words declare.
If Christ had entered in splendor like a king of earth,
the appearance and the words would have been according to
nature and reason and would have seemed to the eye according
to the words, but then there w^ould have been no room for
faith. He who believes in Christ must find riches in poverty,
honor in dishonor, joy in sorrow, life in death, and hold fast
to them in that faith which clings to the Word and expects
16. Fourthly: ''Thy king." Here he distinguishes this king
from all other kings. It is thy king, he says, who was prom-
ised to you, whose own you are, who alone shall direct you,
yet in the spirit and not in the body. It is he for whom you
have yearned from the beginning, whom the fathers have de-
sired to see, who will deliver you from all that has hitherto
burdened, troubled, and held you captive.
Oh, this is a comforting word to a believing heart, for
24 luttikr's church postil.
without Christ, man is subjected to many raging tyrants who
are not kings but murderers, at whose hands he suffers great
misery and fear. These are the devil, the flesh, the world, sin,
also the law and eternal death, by all of which the troubled
conscience is burdened, is under bondage, and lives in anguish.
For where there is sin there is no clear conscience ; where there
is no clear conscience, there is a life of uncertainty and an
unquenchable fear of death and hell in the presence of which
no real joy can exist in the heart, as Lev. 26, 36 says : "The
sound of a driven leaf shall chase them."
17. Where the heart receives the king with a firm faith, it
is secure and does not fear sin, death, hell, nor any other evil ;
for he well knows and in no wise doubts that this king is the
Lord of life and death, of sin and grace, of hell and heaven,
and that all things are in his hand. For this reason he became
our Icing and came dov/n to vis that he might deliver us from
these tyrants and rule over us himself alone. Therefore he
who is under this king cannot be harmed either by sin, death,
hell, Satan, man or any other creature. As his king lives
without sin and is blessed, so must he be kept forever without
sin and death in living blessedness.
18. See, such great things are contained In these seemingly
unimportant words: "Behold, thy king." Such boundless
gifts are brought by this poor and despised king. All this
reason does not understand, nor nature comprehend, but faith
alone does. Therefore he is called thy king ; thine, who art
vexed and harrassed by sin, Satan, death and hell, the
flesh and the world, so that thou mayest be governed and
directed in the grace, in the spirit, in life, in heaven, in God.
With this word, therefore, he demands faith in order that
you may be certain that he is such a king to you, has such a
kingdom, and has come and is proclaimed for this purpose.
If you do not believe this of him, you will never acquire suclb
faith by any work of yours. What you think of him you will
have ; what you expect of him you will find ; and as you be-
lieve so shall it be to you. He will still remain what he is,
First Sunday in advejnt. ^5
the King of life, of grace, and of salvation, whether he is
believed on or not.
19. Fifthly : He ''conicfli." Without doubt you do not come
to him and bring him to you ; he is too high and too far from
you. With all 3'our effort, A\'ork and labor you cannot come to
him, lest you boast as though you had received him by your
own merit and worthiness. No, dear friend, all merit and
worthiness is out of the question, and there is nothing but
demerit and unworthiness on your side, nothing but grace and
mercy on his. The poor and the rich here come together, as
Prov. 22, 2 says.
20. By this are condemned all those infamous doctrines
of free will, which come from the pope, universities ana
monasteries. For all their teaching consists in that we
are to begin and lay the first stone. We should by the power
of free will first seek God, come to him, run after him and
acquire his grace. Beware, beware of this poison ! It is nothing
but the doctrine of devils, by which all the world is betrayed.
Before you can cry to God and seek him God must come to you
and must have found you, as Paul says, Rom. 10,14-15:
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not be-
lieved ? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not
lieard? and how shall they hear without a preacher, and how
shall they preach except they be sent ?" God must lay the first
stone and begin with you, if you are to seek him and pray to
him. He is present when you begin to seek. If he were not
you could not accomplish anything but mere sin, and the
greater the sin, the greater and holier the work you will at-
tempt, and you will become a hardened hypocrite.
21. You ask, how shall we begin to be godly and what
shall we do that God may begin his work in us? Answer:
Do you not understand, it is not for you to work or to begin
to be godly, as little as it is to further and complete it. Every-
thing that you begin is in and remains sin, though it shines
ever so brightly ; you cannot do anything but sin, do what you
will. Hence, the teaching of all the schools and monasteries
is misleading, when they teach man to begin to pray and do
26 i^utiikr's church tostil.
good works, to found something, to give, to sing, to become
spiritual and thereby to seek God's grace.
22. You say, however: Then I must sin from necessity, if
by my free will I work and live without God ? and I could not
avoid sin, no matter what I would do? Answer: Truly, it is
so, that you must remain in sin, do what you will, and that
everything is sin you do alone out of your own free will. For
if out of your own free will you might avoid sin and do that
which pleases God, what need would you have of Christ? He
would be a fool to shed his blood for your sin, if you yourself
were so free and able to do aught that is not sin. From this
you learn how the universities and monasteries with their
teachings of free will and good works, do nothing else but
darken the truth of God so that we know not what Christ is,
what we are and what our condition is. They lead the whole
world with them into the abyss of hell, and it is indeed time
that we eradicate from the earth all chapters and monasteries.
23. Learn then from this Gospel what takes place when God
begins to make us godly, and what the first step is in becoming
godly. There is no other beginning than that your king comes
to you and begins to work in you. It is done in this way : The
Gospel must be the first, this must be preached and heard. In
it you hear and learn how all your works count for nothing
before God and that everything is sinful that you work and do.
Your king must first be in you and rule you. Behold, here is
the beginning of your salvation; you relinquish your works
and despair of yourself, because you hear and see that all
you do is sin and amounts to nothing, as the Gospel tells you,
and you receive your king in faith, cling to him, implore his
grace and find consolation in his mercy alone.
But when you hear and accept this it is not your power,
but God's grace, that renders the Gospel fruitful in you, so
that you believe that you and your works are nothing. For
you see how few there are who accept it, so that Christ weeps
over Jerusalem and, as now the Papists are doing, not only
refuse it, but condemn such doctrine, for they will not have
all their works to be sin, they desire to lay the first stone and
rage and fume against the Gospel.
FIRST SUNDxVY IN ADVE:NT. 2^
24. Again, it is not by virtue of your power or your merit
that the Gospel is preached and your king comes. God must
send him out of pure grace. Hence, not greater wrath of God
exists than where he does not send the Gospel ; there is only
sin, error and darkness, there man may do what he will. Again,
there is no greater grace, than where he sends his Gospel, for
there must be grace and mercy in its train, even if not all.
perhaps only a few, receive it. Thus the pope's government
is the most terrible wrath of God, so that Peter calls them the
children of execration, for they teach no Gospel, but mere
human doctrine of their own works as we, alas, see in all the
chapters, monasteries and schools.
25. This is what is meant by "Thy king cometh." You do
not seek him, but he seeks you. You do not find him, he finds
you. For the preachers come from him, not from you; their
sermons come from him, not from you ; your faith comes from
him, not from you ; everything that faith works in you comes
from him, not from you ; and where he does not come, you
remain outside ; and where there is no Gospel there is no God,
but only sin and damnation, free will may do, suffer, work
and live as it may and can. Therefore you should not ask,
where to begin to be godly; there is no beginning, except
where the king enters and is proclaimed.
26. Sixthly, he cometh ''unto tlicc." Thee, thee, what does
this mean? Is it not enough that he is your king? If he is
yours how can he say, he comes to you ? All this is stated by
the prophet to present Christ in an endearing way and invite
to faith. It is not enough that Christ saves us from the rule
and tyranny of sin, death and hell, and becomes our king, but
he offers himself to us for our possession, that whatever he is
and has may be ours, as St. Paul whites, Rom. 8, 32 : "He
that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us ail,
how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?"
27. Hence the daughter of Zion has twofold gifts from
Christ. The first is faith and the Holy Spirit in the heart, by
which she becomes pure and free from sin. The other is
Christ himself, that she may glory in the blessings given by
Christ, as though everything Christ is and has were her own,
28 LU'riIL:R\^ CHURCH I'OSTIL.
and that she may rely upon Christ as upon her own heritage.
Of this St. Paul speaks, Rom. 8, 34 : "Christ maketh interces-
sion for us.'' If he maketh intercession for us he will receive
us and we will receive him as our Lord. And 1 Cor. 1,30:
"Christ was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness
and sanctification, and redemption." Of tlie twofold gifts
Isaiah speaks in 40, 1-2 : "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,
saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem ; and cry
unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquit>
is pardoned, for she hath received of Jehovah's hand double
for all her sins."
Behold, this means that he comes to you, for your welfare,
as your own ; in that he is your king, you receive grace from
him into your heart, so that he delivers you from sin and
death, and thus becomes your king and you his subject. In
coming to you he becomes your own, so that you partake of
his treasures, as a bride, by the jewelry the bridegroom puts
on her, becomes partner of his possessions. Oh, this is a joy-
ful, comforting form of speech ! Who would despair and be
afraid of death and hell, if he believes in these words and wins
Christ as his own ?
28. Seventhly: ''Meek." This word is to be especially
noticed, and it comforts the sin-burdened conscience. Sin
naturally makes a timid conscience, which fears God and flees,
as Adam did in Paradise, and cannot endure the coming of
God, the knowing and feelitig that God is an enemy of sin and
severely punishes it. Hence it flees and is afraid, when God
is only mentioned, and is concerned lest he go at it tooth and
nail. In order that such delusion and timidity may not pursue
us he gives us the comforting promise that this king comes
As if he would say: Do not flee and despair for he does
not come now as he came to Adam, to Cain, at the flood, at
Babel, to Sodom and Gomorrah, nor as he came to the people
of Israel at Mount Sinai ; he comes not in wrath, does not wish
to reckon with you and demand his debt. All wrath is laid
aside, nothing but tenderness and kindness remain. He will
FIRST SUNDAY IN .\DV^NT. 29
now deal with you so that your heart will have pleasure, love
and confidence in him, that henceforth you will much more
abide with him and find refuge in him than you feared him
and fled from him before. Behold, he is nothing but meekness
to you, he is a different man, he acts as if he were sorry ever
to have made you afraid and caused you to flee from his
punishment and wrath. He desires to reassure and comfort
you and bring you to himself by love and kindness.
This means to speak consolingly to a sin-burdened con-
science, this means to preach Christ rightly and to proclaim
his Gospel. How is it possible that such a form of speech