The marvel of Christ’s service to us

In his All Saints Day sermon that is worth reading in itself, our pastor, Rev. Douthwaite, read a great quotation from Luther:

“There is no greater bondage than that of sin; and there is no greater service than that displayed by the Son of God, who becomes the servant of all, no matter how poor, wretched, or despised [we] may be, and bears [our] sins. It would be spectacular and amazing, prompting all the world to open ears and eyes, mouth and nose in uncomprehending wonderment, if some king’s son were to appear in a beggar’s home to nurse him in his illness, wash off his filth, and do everything else the beggar would have to do. Would this not be profound humility? Any spectator or any beneficiary of this honor would feel impelled to admit that he had seen or experienced something unusual and extraordinary, something magnificent. But what is a king or an emperor compared with the Son of God? Furthermore, what is a beggar’s filth or stench compared with the filth of sin which is ours by nature, stinking a hundred thousand times worse and looking infinitely more repulsive to God than any foul matter found in a hospital? And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us, the more He cleanses us, relieving us of all our misery and of the burden of all our sins and placing them upon His own back. All the holiness of the [world] stinks in comparison with this service of Christ, the fact that the beloved Lamb, the great Man, yes, the Son of the Exalted Majesty, descends from heaven to serve me” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 22, p. 166).

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: All Saints Sermon.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fws

    It’s hard to beat Dr Luther.

    As a layman I pray that all Lutheran pastors focus on delivering just such a message in every single sermon.

  • fws

    It’s hard to beat Dr Luther.

    As a layman I pray that all Lutheran pastors focus on delivering just such a message in every single sermon.

  • Abby

    “And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us, the more He cleanses us, relieving us of all our misery and of the burden of all our sins and placing them upon His own back.”

    Complete annihilation of all self-righteous moralism and legalism. Dr. Martin has a way of dragging us right through the mud. But then of cleaning us and giving us a new robe. I wish the “older brother” in the church would understand. And fws, I wish too the pastors would convey this regularly. Someone said, “If you want to make people mad, preach the Law. If you want to make people furious, preach Grace.”

  • Abby

    “And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us, the more He cleanses us, relieving us of all our misery and of the burden of all our sins and placing them upon His own back.”

    Complete annihilation of all self-righteous moralism and legalism. Dr. Martin has a way of dragging us right through the mud. But then of cleaning us and giving us a new robe. I wish the “older brother” in the church would understand. And fws, I wish too the pastors would convey this regularly. Someone said, “If you want to make people mad, preach the Law. If you want to make people furious, preach Grace.”

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  • JunkerGeorg

    Your pastor, in quoting Luther, makes an important point that is often forgotten if not ignored by some in theological consideration of the Atonement, namely, that it is not merely that God-in/as-Christ, as true God and true Man, is the only one Who COULD do what He did for helpless us, but also simply that He is the only one Who WOULD willingly do what He did for undeserving us. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul….”

    (I’ve noticed this neglect even by early church fathers, so wrapped up as they circumstancially were in their ontological, “What Jesus had to do in order to be what He was” type of Christology/soteriology from above approach, as distinct from Luther’s “What Jesus had to be in order to do what He did” type of Christology/soteriology from below approach. Alot of it has to do with starting with God’s nature as starting point rather than later in Medieval nominalism which started God’s Will, as God revealed it to be in what actually happened in the Scriptural record. But now I’m way off topic!).

    The Point? It is not merely that God-in-Christ, as true God and true Man, is the only one Who COULD do what He did for us, but also that God-in-Christ is the only one Who WOULD willingly do what He did for us. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul….”

  • JunkerGeorg

    Your pastor, in quoting Luther, makes an important point that is often forgotten if not ignored by some in theological consideration of the Atonement, namely, that it is not merely that God-in/as-Christ, as true God and true Man, is the only one Who COULD do what He did for helpless us, but also simply that He is the only one Who WOULD willingly do what He did for undeserving us. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul….”

    (I’ve noticed this neglect even by early church fathers, so wrapped up as they circumstancially were in their ontological, “What Jesus had to do in order to be what He was” type of Christology/soteriology from above approach, as distinct from Luther’s “What Jesus had to be in order to do what He did” type of Christology/soteriology from below approach. Alot of it has to do with starting with God’s nature as starting point rather than later in Medieval nominalism which started God’s Will, as God revealed it to be in what actually happened in the Scriptural record. But now I’m way off topic!).

    The Point? It is not merely that God-in-Christ, as true God and true Man, is the only one Who COULD do what He did for us, but also that God-in-Christ is the only one Who WOULD willingly do what He did for us. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul….”


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