A Minute With Martin
A Minute With Martin
EasterFrom Luther’s Sermon for Easter on Mark 16: 1-8
“This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.” Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy. Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. 0 God; where is now my Christ and my Saviour? But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all. What has now become of sin? There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm. As I am a child of Adam, they can indeed accomplish it that I must die. But since Christ has taken my sins upon himself, has died for them, has suffered himself to be slain on account of my sins, they can no longer harm me; for Christ is too strong for them, they cannot keep him, he breaks forth and overpowers them, ascends into heaven (takes sin and sorrow captive, Ed. 1531), and rules there over all throughout eternity. Now I have a clear conscience, am joyful and happy and am no longer afraid of this tyrant, for Christ has taken my sins away from me and made them his own. But they cannot remain upon him; what then becomes of them? They must disappear and be destroyed. This then is the effect of faith. He who believes that Christ has taken away our sin, is without sin, like Christ himself, and death, the devil and hell are vanquished as far as he is concerned and they can no longer harm him.”
In this portion of one his many Easter sermons, Luther calls us to focus our attention on Christ and what he has accomplished for us by his death and resurrection. It is so easy to become fixated on our sins, faults and failures (to say nothing of the goings on in the sin tainted world around us) that we despair and lose hope. Which is to be expected, as we can’t save ourselves. However, while it is necessary to have an honest assessment of ourselves, it is even more necessary that we don’t stop there, but instead turn to Christ, recognize all he has done for us, and receive his mercy, forgiveness, love and life, in faith. Christ did all this out of love for the world and everyone in it—including you. The message of Easter is that because of God’s love in Christ, sin and death no longer have the last word in our lives rather, the last word is forgiveness and life, spoken over us by Jesus himself. He has done the work, all that remains is for us to receive this gift and live in its life giving promises.