Luther Quote of the Day

During Holy Week the Luther quotes will be coming from his Holy Week sermons. Enjoy.


Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18

15. Our dear Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer in secret, nor did he suffer at the hands of those who had no legal power. No, he suffered in public at the hands of those who exercise public power. Here in Germany this happens to be the emperor and the pope. However, we should not be offended when we see that both kinds of power, spiritual and secular, such as the pope and emperor, are enemies of God. As we confess and say in the Christian Creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ who suffered under Pontiuus Pilate.” That is what has happened in every age of the past and is also happening today, namely that Christians and true martyrs are being killed by both the legally established authorities, spiritual and secular. It is indeed the responsibility of all spiritual and secular authorities to protect and defend Christ and his adherents in the same way that King David and other godly kings have done; but the exact opposite of that is what is always taking place. Those people who should be offering help to Christians are the very ones who persecute and bedevil them.

16. Therefore, when we see that the same thing is happening today-pope, emperor, and other persons in positions of authority are persecuting the Christians-we should remember that this is nothing new, for that is the way it has always been. No prophet was murdered by an assassin, but all of the prophets were publicly murdered by those who occupied legal positions of public power and trust. That has continued till this present day. All the blood that was shed was shed by those who were kings, princes, judges, councils, and the like, all members of the secular government, along with bishops, preachers, and so on, all members of the spiritual realm. They were the very ones who murdered and betrayed our Lord Christ, as the history of his passion teaches us as the example of holy martyrs testify. The other murderers on the street and in the woods are assassins, and that kind of murder is an assassination and is not a prophet’s death. It is a “prophet’s death” when it is carried out by legal power and the people have to remain silent and say, That was done by pope, bishop, prince, king, and emperor.

17.Note this well: Christ is condemned and killed by the highest ranking heads of both the spiritual and secular realms, which God has ordained. These men, who occupied positions of unrestricted public power, killed Christ! God has ordained the high priests, elders, and the council at Jerusalem to discharge their duties in full harmony with God’s Law. But they paid no attention to that Law of God. Instead, they misused their legal power to deliberately defy God. Yet God had invested the pope, emperor, kings, and princes with power, so that they might serve God with the powers vested in them. As head bishop the pope was given the spiritual power to bind and to free people from their sins. To the emperor, kings and princes, power was given to govern the land and the people so as to punish evildoers and preserve peace on earth as the secular government. These powers, given to them by God, were to be exercised in accordance with God’s Word. But what happens? God does indeed tell them, You, O emperor, are vested with the sword; therefore go ahead, hang the thieves on the gallows, execute the murderers, and so on. You, O pope, as bishop are vested with the keys to the kingdom of heaven; therefore cast the incorrigible sinners to hell, in accordance with my Word and command. But they completely disregard God’s Word. They say, What we do and decree, that will be the law, that and nothing else.

18. But what will happen someday when the tables are turned? God will do what fills them with hatred, and he will refuse to do what they want him to do, just as now they do what fills God with wrath and leave undone what they know is God’s will. A person indeed ought to be terrified knowing that he is a preacher, bishop, prince, or ruler in the world, and wish instead that he was a servant or a maid! For those people occupy a station in which God has been frequently blasphemed and persecuted. It is the damnable devil who has terribly distorted the two offices that are so great and noble. He is the one who misleads the people with false doctrine and who sheds innocent blood with the sword, yes, the one who crucifies Christ himself-not to mention the unusual fact, that he is condemned to death and is crucified, not only by those who hold positions of legal power, but who are actually Christ’s own blood brothers!

Luther’s House Postil from Holy Week, preached at the parish church, March 25, 1534


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