and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." Closely joined to
this is to-day's Gospel: "Follow thou me," as if to say: Since
this is to be your lot, ponder it well and follow thou me and
yield willingly to death. It is evident enough that this follow-
ing signifies his death, and all the disciples understood it so,
and it is a lucid and easy Gospel.
2. However as some were greatly worried to know whether
St. John was dead or still alive, the Evangelist shows clearly
enough that Christ did not wish to let us know, therefore we
should not pry into the matter. He says: Jesus did not say
he should not die, neither does he say that he should -die. He
thus lets it hang in doubt. If Christ had said : I will that he
tarry till I come, it might have been understood that he would
die on the last day. Rut that he says, "If I will, that he tarry",
it is still much more in the dark, in that he does not say right
out whether he will or will not.
3. But in doing thus Christ taught us a beautifull and
touching lesson for the sake of which Christ dismissed Peter
in this manner.
THE TEACHING OF THIS GOSPEL.
The teaching is as follows : Nothwithstanding the exam-
DAY OF ST. JOHN THE: EVANGELIST. 241
pies and lives of all the saints every person should attend to
the work entrusted to him and guard the honor of his calling.
Oh, this is truly a needed and wholesome teaching. *'It is very
misleading, and it is almost universal, that we so highly
esteem the works and lives of the saints. If we wish to
imitate them, we think it to be a very precious work to do
so. The useless babblers aid and urge this, who preach the lives
of the holy saints and present them to the people for examples
in the wrong way.
4. Here Christ works and speaks against this very thing.
Peter is a type of such wild wanderers ; when Christ had com-
manded him at once to follow him, he turns about and looks
after another, w^orries as to where he is going whom Jesus had
loved. Just so these persons do, they let drop what has been
commanded them, and look after the lives and w^orks of those
God loved, namely his saints, therefore Christ reproves Peter,
and says: What is that to thee, where he is wandering? Fol-
low thou me, I will attend to him ; how, if I wish him to tarry,
wilt thou also tarry ? Do you imagine I wish the same from you
as from him ? No, not so ; you attend to your duties. I desire
to have many kinds of servants, but not all to be at the same
5. Alas, many persons are found, who like Peter do every-
thing except what is commanded them. Many a one hears
that certain saints made pilgrimages, for which they are
praised ; then he like a fool starts off, leaves wife and children
sitting, who are entrusted to him by God, and trots to St.
Jacob, or here and there, not knowing that his calling and
mission are quite different from that of the saint he is imitat-
ing. In the same way they do with their bequests, fastings,
clothing, holidays, priestcraft, monasteries and cloisters. All
that is nothing but looking around to the saints Christ loved,
and turning their backs to the commission and calling to fol-
low Christ. Then they boast they did well, in that they fol-
lowed the saints.
6. Therefore take heed, that the way of God leads into the
right road. First, it tolerates no humao doctrine and way or
242 i^uther's church postil,
command, secondly, it does not allow of any works, sought
and devised by self. Thirdly, God's way cannot recognize the
examples of the saints ; but its anxiety is to be faithful, as God
leads, in what he requires of us; as the prophet says in Ps.
25,8-12: "God shall instruct him in the way that he shall
choose." Likewise : ''And the weak will he teach his way," etc.
7. Then you may reply : But how if I am not called, what
shall I do then ? Answer : How is it possible that you are not
called ? You have always been in some state or station ; you
have always been a husband or wife, or boy or girl, or servant.
Picture before you the humblest state. Are you a husband,
and you think, you have not enough to do in that sphere to
govern your wife, children, domestics and property so
that all may be obedient to God and you do no one any wrong ?
Yea, if you had five heads and ten hands, even then you would
be too weak for your task, so that you would never dare to
think of making a pilgrimage or doing any kind of saintly
8. Again: are you a son or daughter, and do you think
you have not enough work with yourself, to continue chaste,
pure and temperate during your youth, obey your parents, and
oflfend no one by word or deed? Yea, since the custom of
honoring such commands and callings has been abandoned,
people go and pray with their rosaries and do like things,
not belonging to their station in life, and no one ever thinks
he is not faithful in his state or station.
9. Again: Are you a domestic or servant, and do you
think you would go idle if you were to serve your lord or
mistress with all faithfulness as your station and orders re-
quire, and also keep your youth under control as with a bridle?
10. And again: Are you a prince, a lord, spiritual or
secular; who has more to do than you, in order that your
subjects may do right, preserve peace, and wrong is done by
no one ? Why, do you think, the proverb originated : A prince
or lord is a wild deer in the heavens ? Only because they have
their office and wish to rule far off when they cannot govern
even themselves ; afterwards they wish to atone for their folly
DAY OP* ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST. 24o
by masses, bequests, rosaries, prayers and indulgences, as if
God were a dealer in old clothes, or a child that permits him-
self to be fooled with a penny.
11. The very same way the bishop and spiritual prelates
also act, who should feed the sheep of Christ and follow
Christ, and even suffer death for their sake ; instead, they
observe their seven canonical hours for prayers, hold mass,
and then allow themselves to be called pious people. But if
one of the bishops enters heaven then a different heaven must
be created. All bishops at present are nothing but fire works
of hell, in that they do not administer their office, not even
a hair's breadth of it.
12. See, as now no one Is without some commission and
calling, so no one is without some kind of work, if he desires
to do what is right. Every one therefore is to take heed to
continue in his calling, look to himself, faithfully do what is
commanded him, and serve God and keep his commandments ;
then he will have so much to do that all time will be too short,
all places too cramped, all resources of help too weak. For
the evil spirit furiously attacks this way and makes it bitter
for man so that it is all he can do to continue in it. But if
Satan brings man to this point that he forgets and lets go his
calling, then he no longer attacks him so hard, he has brought
him out of the public highway, and he lets him at times hunt
a prafrie or timber path, that is, do a startling good little deed.
Then the fool thinks he is on the right road and anticipates
a great reward in heaven. The longer he wanders the farther
he strays from the highway until he comes into the most per-
nicious delusions that he thinks we are to deal with God by
means of his works, like King Saul did. Oh no, beloved
mortal, God is ijot concerned about your works, but about your
obedience, as 1 Sam. 15,22 says; 'To obey is better than
sacrifice." Hence it is, that if a pious maid-servant goes forth
with her orders, and sweeps the yard or ;cleans the stable ; or
a man-servant in the same spirit plows and drives a team:
they travel direct to heaven in the right road ; while another
who goes to St. Jacob or to church, and lets his office and
work lie, travels straight to perdition.
244 luthe:r's church postil.
13. Therefore we must close our eyes, not look at our
works, whether they be great, small, honorable, comtemptible,
spiritual, temporal or what kind of an appearance and name
they may have upon earth ; but look to the command and to
the obedience in the works. Do they govern you, then the
work also is truly right and precious, and completely godly,
although it springs forth as insignificant as a straw. How-
ever, if obedience and God's commandments do not dominate
you, then the work is not right, but damnable, surely the
devil's own doings, although it were even so great a work as
to raise the dead. For it is decreed that God's eyes look not
to the works, but to the obedience in the works. Therefore
it is his will, that we look to his command and our calling, of
which St. Paul says in 1. Cor. 7,17: "As God hath called
each, so let him walk." And St. Peter says. Ye are to be as
faithful, good shepherds or administrators of the manifold
grace of God; so that each one may serve the other, and be
helpful to him by means of what he has received, 1 Pet.
4, 10. See, here Peter says the grace and gifts of God arc not
one but manifold, and each is to tend to his own, develop
the same and through them be of service to others.
14. What a glorious state of things would reign, if it were
thus that each tended to his own affairs and yet thereby served
others, and thus traveled together to heaven in one flock in the
right road. St. Paul also writes in Rom. 12, 4-6 and 1 Cor. 12,
12: "The body has many members, but all have not the same
office." Since we are many members of one congregation, but
all have not the same office, no one should administer the office
of another, but each his own, and all in childlike obedience and
in the many offices and manifold works walk in unity and har-
15. Do you then reply: Alas, shall w^e not follow the lives
and examples of the holy saints? Why are they then preached ?
Ansv/er : One should preach them so as to praise God in them,
to stir up one another, and to comfort one another by his good-
ness and grace and not show forth their works, but their
obedience in their works. However in our days they let obe-
DAY O^ ST. JOHN THE) EVANGELIST. 245
cHence lie and lead us so deeply into works, that we have com-
pletely drifted from obedience, and we gape at works and de-
spise our own mission and calling. Hence there is no doubt
it is Satan's own doings that divine worship is confined only
to churches, altars, masses, singing, reading, offerings and
the like, as if all other works were vain or of no use what-
ever. How could Satan mislead us more completely from the
right way than when he confines God's worship within such
narrow limits, only to the church and whatever is done in it ?
16. Be on your guard, look in front of you, Christ will not
suffer Peter to look around, not even to the disciple he still
loves. Do you think it was for naught that the very disciple,
whom Jesus loved, was preferred here to all the other disciples ?
It was for some purpose that he was not mentioned by name.
He might indeed have said : Peter turned and saw John ; but
he said, "whom Jesus loved" etc. But he wished to meet this
evil and banish from their sight the works of the saints, in
order that nothing but pure obedience might always abide
there, and no one might glory or excuse himself in that he
had followed the example of the saints.
17. Notice, we also read in the Scriptures that God did
not wish David to build his church, although David took it
in hand to do so; because there was no command before that
he should build it ; but he wished Solomon to build it, and to
him he also gave a command to this end. It has been the
spring of all kinds of idolatry that the people had respect to
the works of the saints and not to their obedience. They wit-
nessed how Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob offered to God
upon altars; they heedlessly went ahead and desired to imi-
tate them, and idolatry was the result. The Scriptures typify
such persons by the monkeys. They are an animal with a
nature that looks only to works, they wished to imitate every-
thing, still nothing is commanded them.
18. Therefore let us well grasp the words: "Follow thou
me." Thou, thou ; let others attend to their affairs, you attend
to yours, they will indeed come. For it is not in vain that
there is added in this Gospel, that the disciple whom Peter
saw, was also following ; but he was following without Peter's
246 LUTHER S CHURCH POSTIL.
looking. This whole gospel lesson has been written for the
sake of these words and their teaching; for it does not con-
tain much on the doctrine of faith, but on the following and
the works of faith. In the person of Peter Christ here lec-
tures all spiritual prelates and instructs them in their office ; of
this the whole Gospel ought to be made to treat, but these pre-
lates wish perhaps to be untaught by us. Therefore we must
pass it by, and stick to our own duties.
IL THE SECOND TEACHING. EACH SHOULD BE
CONTENT IN HIS OWN CALLING.
19. The other lesson from this Gospel is, that everyone
should be satisfied with his own part and not begrudge an-
other anything, nor murmur although he is unlike him. For
here, although John alone is called the disciple Jesus loves,
still none of them murmured, neither did anyone envy him.
in like manner, that he should not die, as they thought, grieved
no one, and not a murmur went forth from them ; but as the
text says : "This saying therefore went forth among the breth-
ren," they, (we understand all the disciples and Christians)
spoke of this as brethren and wished him well.
20. And this is no mean virtue; for even the holy patri-
archs were lacking in this virtue and they could not stand the
government of Joseph, their brother.
2L Moreover it is a common plague that no one can be
satisfied with his own lot, so that the heathen say : How does
it happen that there is always better fruit in another's field, and
that the neighbor's cow gives more milk than our own ? Again,
â€” how does it :come that no one allows himself to be content
with his own state, each thinking that of another is better
than his own? Whoever is a merchant praises the lot of a
mechanic, that he sits at home and rests, while he must wander
around in the country as if going astray. On the other hand,
the mechanic praises the lot of the merchant, because he is
rich and is out among the people, and so on. Every person
is tired of his own lot and sighs for a change. Is one married,
then he praises the state of the one who has no wife ; has he
DAY OF ST. JOHN THE) EVANG^IvIST. 247
none, then he praises the married state. Is he in a spiritual
calling, then he likes the secular; is he in a secular calling,
then he prefers the spiritual ; and so it is impossible for God
to deal with them so that they are satisfied. If they serve God
in the lot God gave them, it would be neither bitter nor heavy
for them ; but now they are tired and no one burdens them but
themselves. Without the least need or cause they themselves
make their lives bitter.
22. And if God allowed one to change his lot with all his
will, to atone for his dissatisfied state ; even then he would be
like every one else, yea, become more tired and at last stay
with his own. Hence one must not think of changing his lot,
but of changing his spirit of discontent. Cast aside and change
your restless spirit, then the lot of one would be hke that of
another, and all would be prized alike, as you have experienced
that you neither needed nor wished a change.
23. Thus some heathen have thought if the evils of all
people were brought together on a heap, and one then dis-
tributed them equally, it would come to the point that every
one would prefer to retain his own. God rules the world so
very evenly, that to every advantage is attached a like disad-
vantage. Every person sees no more than how sleek the shoe
fits on another, but does not see where it pinches him ; on the
other hand the one who wears the shoe, thinks not how neatly
it fits, but how sorely it pinches. The world rushes on in the
folly that everyone looks only at his own evil and another's
good ; but when he beholds only his own good and also an-
others evil, then he will thank God, be satisfied in a most re-
signed manner, however humble and bad it may be about
24. To avoid such unrest, discontent and disgust in one's
self, is helpful and necessary to faith, which iL of the firm con-
viction, that God governs all alike, places each one in the lot,
that is the most useful and suitable for him, and that it could
not be better arranged, even if he did it himself. This faith
brings rest, contentment, peace and banishes the tired spirit.
But where it does not exist, and man judges according to his
own feelings, thoughts and experiences, behold, there is a
248 Luther's church postil.
weary and discontented spirit ; for he experiences only the evil
of his own lot and not that of his neighbor ; on the other hand,
he does not see his own good side nor the bad side of his
neighbor. Hence there follows out of this feeling weariness,
dislike, worry and labor, and he becomes thereby impatient
and dissatisfied with God. Then praise, love and thanks to
God are silenced in him, and he remains his whole life a secret
miirmurer against God, like the Jews in the wilderness. Yet,
the only thing he reaps from it, is that he makes his own life
bitter, and merits hell thereby besides.
25. Hence you see, how faith is needed in everything and
how it makes everything easy, good and sweet, even if you
were in prison or in death, as the martyrs prove. And without
faith all things are difficult, evil and bitter, although you pos-
sessed the pleasure and joy of the whole world, as all the great
lords and wealthy prove, who at all times lead the most
26. Some say: Yes, if I knew that neither my folly nor
Satan had led me, and I were assured that God himself took
care of me, I would gladly be joyful, satisfied and contented.
Answer: That is a foolish and unchristian pretence, which
reveals a faithless heart. Christ says in Math. 6, 28 : "Con-
sider the lillies of the field, how they grow." Again, not a leaf
falls from the tree without the will of your heavenly Father,
and not a bird comes upon the earth without his will ; of how
much more value are you than birds, you who are of much
more value than they ; the very hair of your head are all num-
bered. Math. 10, 29.
27. If then your existence is a state that in itself is not sin-
ful, although you have come into it through sin and folly, the
same existence or state will not therefore be the less displeas-
ing to God; for God takes pleasure in all things, as Gen. 1, 31
says, except sin. Therefore, where you are in a calling that
is not sinful in itself, you are certainly placed there by God,
and in the state that is pleasing to God ; be only on your guard
and do not sin in it. If you fall from a loft and break a bone
the room or the bed therefore is not the worse or God more
DAY OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST. 249
displeasing, into which the fall brought you and constrained
you to remain, although another came there without such a fall.
29. When I speak of a calling, not sinful in itself, I do
really pleasing to God, if you experience his disgust and dis-
pleasure ; God is surely present there, he lets the wicked spirit
attack and try you, if you are wavering or steadfast, or not,
and offers your fiath an occasion to battle and to exercise itself.
29. When I speak of a calling, which in itself is not sinful,
I do not mean that we can live on the earth without sin.
All callings and estates sin daily ; but I mean the calling God has
instituted or its institution is not opposed to God, as for exam-
ple, marriage, man-servant, maid-servant, lord, wife, superin-
tendent, ruler, judge, officer, farmer, citizen etc., I mention
as sinful stations in life; robbery, usury, public women, and
as they are at present, the pope, cardinals, bishops, priests,
monks and nuns, who neither preach nor listen to preaching.
For these callings are surely against God, where they only say
mass and sing, and are not busy with God's Word, so that an
ordinary woman may much sooner enter heaven than one of
30. To be spiritual and not busy with God's Word, which
should be your special work, is like being married and never
being together; but one running out here, the other there, to
dissipate. Hence in order to lead such a life many chapters
and cloisters have become houses of harlots and houses of
villains for the service of Satan, to be pious in the body and
outwardly, but in the soul there is nothing but sin.
III. THE SPIRITUAL OR INIYSTERIOUS INTER-
31. With these two lessons we shall be satisfied for the
present. St. Augustine, however, playfully as it were, inter-
pretes the two apostles, Peter and John, as two sorts of lives.
St. Peter as the life of reality, and St. John as the con-
templative life. He adds : our real life must follow Christ and
die, whereas the life contemplative remains forever. â€” This no-
tion is beautiful and ingenious ; but some, by writing too much
250 Luther's church postiL.
about these two kinds of lives, have obscured the whole matter
and no longer know what life is real or contemplative.
32. But I, in m}' coarse manner of thinking, take it that
the life of reality must not only cease bodily, but also die spiritu-
ally ; that is, it must be discarded by the world, and man must
not rely on his works, however good and necessary they be,
but live alone by faith and rely on Christ ; thus he will be tht
disciple whom Christ loves. Here the Gospel, so to speak,
bursts open and pours forth the rays of its spiritual meaning
too numerous for me to catch. Christ by his Word and life
urges the performance of good works, but in reality has in
view only faith.
33. Let us then take John to mean faith, or the inner life
of the soul in faith ; St. Peter, works, or the outer life in works
â€” taking care, however, not to separate the two from each
other in one person. Thus we shall behold mysterious things
and understand the lives real and contemplative, with their
death or continuance.
34. Firstly, we read that this was the disciple whom Christ
loved. This means that faith alone makes the truly beloved
disciples of Christ, who receive the Holy Spirit through this
very same faith, not through their works. Works indeed also
make disciples, but not beloved disciples : only temporal hypo-
crites who do not persevere. God's love does not uphold and
keep them, for the reason that they do not believe.
85. Secondly, this is the disciple who at the supper leaned
back on Christ's breast. It is surely something great and ad-
mirable that faith owns the heart of Christ, that is, it possesses
all that Christ has and all right understanding. I have often
said before that faith makes Christ and the believer one, both
having the same things in common. That which Christ is and
has becomes the property of the believer ; and again, as St. Paul
says, Rom. 8, 32. "God has delivered up his son for us all ; how
shall he not also freely with him give us all things ?" Therefore
a Christian believer relies on Christ, takes comfort from Kim,
and leans on him as on his own, given to him by God. Even
so did St. John lean back on Christ's breast, as on his couch,
safe and secure.
DAY O^ ST. JOHN THE) ÃŸVANGEUST. 251
36. Behold what abundant treasures the faith in Christ is
and contains : it leans ever on Christ, bedding then safely and
most gently, so that they fear nothing, neither sin, death, hell,
the world, nor the devil ; for they rest on life, on grace, and
on eternal bliss, possessing all things in heaven and on earth â€”
only in faith, however not manifestly as yet. This is indicated
by the fact that St. John leans back on Christ's breast not after
his resurrection or in the morning, but before the resurrection
and at supper, that is to say in this life, which is an evening-
meal, denoting the end of the world, when souls are nourished
by the Gospel and the Easter-Lamb, that is prepared, served and
eaten by faith and through the preaching of the Word.
37. Thirdly, he particularly mentions the breast, not the lap
or the arms, indicating thereby that faith possesses all the
wisdom of God and understands all things rightly. The same
is also said by St. Paul, 1. Cor. 2, 15-16: "We have the mind
of Christ ;"and furthermore: "He that is spiritual judgeth all
things, and he himself is judged of no man." And 2 Cor. 3, 16
we read: "Whensoever it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord,
the evil is taken away", so that he knows all things. Therefore
the believer can rightly judge all estates, all works, all doc-