- Walther quotes will be highlighted in yellow, and bold italics added where Walther italicized
- Simultaneous quotes by both Walther and Pieper will be done in blue
The second part, pages 161-164 (LW):
Behold, the Lamb of God! [John 1:29]
This is an excellent and splendid testimony of John regarding the introduction of the new rule and kingdom of Christ. It is a powerful statement. The words are clear and lucid; they tell us what one should think of Christ. John’s earlier words (John 1:17), “The Law was given through Moses,” can hardly be called praise of Moses. But in this passage John virtually chides him, as if he were saying: “You Jews sacrifice a lamb every Passover, as Moses commanded you. In addition you butcher two lambs daily, which are sacrificed and burned each morning and evening. It is a lamb, to be sure. But you Jews make such a display of it, you praise these sacrifices and boast of them so much, that you eclipse the glory of God, push God into the background, and deprive Him of His honor. Compare the true Lamb with the lamb which the Law of Moses commands you to butcher and eat. One is a lamb procured from shepherds. The other, however, is an entirely different Lamb; it is the Lamb of God. For It has been ordained to bear on Its back the sins of the world. Compared with this Lamb, all the lambs you butcher in the temple, roast, and eat count for nothing.
“The paschal lamb of the Law was, indeed, splendid child’s play, as well as a ceremony instituted to remind you of the true Lamb of God. But you exaggerate its significance and assume that such butchering and sacrificing were done to remove your sins. Don’t give way to that illusion! Your lambs will never accomplish that. Only the Son of God will. Those lambs in the Law were merely to be the people’s toys, to remind them of the true Paschal Lamb, which was to be sacrificed at some future time.” But they had nothing but contempt for all this and supposed that a lamb slaughtered at Passover sufficed. Therefore John, as it were, juxtaposes Moses’ lamb and Christ, the true Lamb. The Law was not to extend beyond Christ. John wishes to say: “Your lamb was taken from men, as Moses commanded in the Law of God (Ex. 12:3–5). But this is God’s Lamb. The Easter lamb is a Lamb from God, not a lamb selected from the wethers. The lamb of the Law was a shepherds lamb or a man’s lamb.” John wants to say: “This is the true Lamb, which takes away the sin of the people. With your other lambs, sacrificed on the Passover festival, you did try to remove your sin; but you never succeeded. In this Lamb, born of a virgin, you will. It is not a natural lamb or wether referred to in the Law, and yet It is a lamb.” For God prescribed that it was to be a Lamb that should be sacrificed and roasted on the cross for our sins. In other respects He was a man like all other human beings; but God made Him a Lamb which should bear the sins of all the world.
This is an extraordinarily fine and comforting sermon on Christ, our Savior. Neither our thoughts nor our words can do the subject full justice, but in the life beyond it will redound to our eternal joy and bliss that the Son of God abased Himself so and burdened Himself with my sins. Yes, He assumes not only my sins but also those of the whole world, from Adam down to the very last mortal. These sins He takes upon Himself; for these He is willing to suffer and die that our sins may be expunged and we may attain eternal life and blessedness. But who can ever give adequate thought or expression to this theme? The entire world with all its holiness, rectitude, power, and glory is under the dominion of sin and completely discredited before God. Anyone who wishes to be saved must know that all his sins have been placed on the back of this Lamb! Therefore John points this Lamb out to his disciples, saying: “Do you want to know where the sins of the world are placed for forgiveness? Then don’t resort to the Law of Moses or betake yourselves to the devil; there, to be sure, you will find sins, but sins to terrify you and damn you. But if you really want to find a place where the sins of the world are exterminated and deleted, then cast your gaze upon the cross. The Lord placed all our sins on the back of this Lamb. As the prophet Isaiah declares (Isaiah 53:6): ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way,’ the one hither, the other yon. One sought God in this manner, another in a different way; there were countless modes of looking for God.”
And as it happens when one loses the right way, and, for instance, turns in the wrong direction at a crossroad, one false decision leads to a hundred others. Thus the one chose the rule of St. Francis for help, the other the order of St. Benedict. And pope and Turk, each according to his own judgment, fabricated his own means of penance for sin. But it is written: “They have all gone astray.” But now, which is the right way, the way that guards against going astray? The farther one strays from the right road, the more confused one grows. Isaiah says that the right way is this: “God placed all our sins upon Him and smote Him for the sins of the people; when we all went astray, God put all our sins on the back of His Lamb, and upon no other. He ordained the Lamb to bear the sins of the entire world.”
Therefore a Christian must cling simply to this verse and let no one rob him of it. For there is no other comfort either in heaven or on earth to fortify us against all attacks and temptations, especially in the agony of death. And whoever believes that this Lamb bears the sins of all the world must regard pope and Turk as the Antichrist. For the pope has taught that the Christian must be concerned with bearing his own sin, atoning for it with alms and the like. This is his shameless lie even to the present day. But if what he teaches is true, then I, not Christ, am yoked and burdened with my sin. And then I would necessarily be lost and damned. But Christ does bear the sin—not only mine and yours or that of any other individual, or only of one kingdom or country, but the sin of the entire world. And you, too, are a part of the world.
John’s memory has been cherished, to be sure. In the papacy many murals depict St. John. Pictures of him and of the Lamb were carved in wood and stone or fashioned in gold and silver. Once annually his day was celebrated. His fingers were painted pointing to the Lamb. But all of this was external and never took possession of the heart. No one understood the true significance of the painting and the figure. The papists are still blind, foolish, and absurd. They have paintings and carvings and sculptures of St. John, and they prize portrait and statue; but their doctrine and their life run counter to all this. For they call upon St. Francis or Benedict, St. Catherine or Barbara, and other saints for aid. Is this not blindness? Were we not foolish and mad? Not only did we have the doctrine informing us that this is the Lamb which bears the sin of the world, but we also viewed the picture of St. John pointing his finger at Christ and carrying Christ on his left arm. We celebrated great festivals commemorating all this. And yet our vision was faulty; we did not understand its meaning, nor did we know why John was showing us the Lamb.
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In Indiana and surrounding states are several hospitals operated by the "Franciscan Alliance". Their founding congregation?
"the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration".Does Luther here condemn them for their "health care"? No. Then what does Luther condemn them for?
...their doctrine and their life run counter to all thisWhat does Luther say to these "Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration"?
But Christ does bear the sin—not only mine and yours or that of any other individual, or only of one kingdom or country, but the sin of the entire world.The Sisters follow the Pope who says there is still something one must do, like St. Francis did, to pay for your sin... even if God is a God of grace. But John the Baptist bears witness – Behold!