I have been posting links to Martin Luther’s Christmas sermons for this Advent season. The sermon for the first Sunday in Advent is based on Matthew 21:1-9, and discusses Christ’s advent into Jerusalem. The sermon for the second Sunday in Advent is based on Luke 21:25-36, discussing the signs of Christ’s coming. The sermon for the third Sunday in Advent is based on Matthew 11:2-10, Christ’s answer to John the Baptist about Himself. The sermon for the fourth Sunday in Advent, today, is based on John 1:19-28, and discusses the witness and confession of John the Baptist in advent of Christ’s coming. An excerpt:
“The Lord is coming this way, whose forerunner I am; He is treading on my heels. I am not prophesying of Him as a seer, but crying as a courier, to make room for Him as He walks along. I do not say, as the prophets, ‘Behold, He is to come’; but I say, ‘Behold, He is coming, He is here. I am not bringing word about Him, but pointing to Him with my finger. Did not Isaiah long ago foretell that such a crying to make room for the Lord should go before Him? Such I am, and not a prophet. Therefore, step aside and make room, permit the Lord himself to walk among you bodily, and do not look for any more prophecies about Him.”
Now this is the answer which no learned, wise, and holy men can bear; therefore John must surely be a heretic and be possessed of the devil. Only sinners and fools think him a holy, pious man, listen to his crying and make room for the Lord, removing whatsoever obstructs His way. The others, however, throw logs, stones and dirt in His way, aye, they even kill both the Lord and His forerunner for presuming to say such things to him. And why?
John tells them to prepare the way of the Lord. That is to say, they have not the Lord nor His way in them. What have they then? Where the Lord is not, nor His way, there must be man’s own way, the devil, and all that is evil. Judge then, whether those holy wise people are not justly incensed at John, condemn his word, and finally slay both him and his Master! Shall he presume to hand such holy people over to the devil, and denounce all their doings as false, wicked and damnable, claiming that their ways are not the Lord’s ways, that they must first of all prepare the Lord’s ways, and that they have lived all their holy lives in vain?
Yet, if he quietly wrote it on a tablet, they might still hear it in patience. But he gives utterance to it, yea, he cries it aloud, and that not in a corner, but openly under the sky, in the wilderness, before all the world, utterly disgracing before everybody those saints with all their doings and discrediting them with all the people. Thus they lose all honor and profit which their holy life formerly brought them. This certainly such pious men cannot bear, but for God’s and justice’s sake they cannot damn that false doctrine, in order that the poor people may not be misled and the service of God be not corrupted; aye, finally, they will have to kill John and his Master, to serve and obey God the Father.
This, then, is the preparation of Christ’s way and John’s proper office. He is to humble all the world, and proclaim that they are all sinners – lost, damned, poor, miserable, pitiable people; that there is no life, work, or rank however holy, beautiful and good it may appear, but is damnable unless Christ our God dwell therein, unless He work, walk, live, be and do everything through faith in Him; in short, that they all need Christ and should anxiously strive to share His grace.
All of Martin Luther’s Christmas sermons can be found here.