Commemoration: Job, Patriarch

“Job and His Friends” by Ilya Repin, 1869.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Job 1

“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job 19:23-27

And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

“Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
as in the days when God watched over me,
when his lamp shone upon my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness,
as I was in my prime,
when the friendship of God was upon my tent,
when the Almighty was yet with me,
when my children were all around me,
when my steps were washed with butter,
and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!…

“And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
With great force my garment is disfigured;
it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.
God has cast me into the mire,
and I have become like dust and ashes.”

Job 29:1-6; 30:16-19

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?…

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Job 38:1-7; 40:2

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:1-6

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.

Job 42:10-17

Commemoration: Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor

The commemoration on the 14th may have been a famous one to the secular world, but today’s is likely an equally familiar one to the Lutheran one (but probably not to the Catholics): Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546, at the age of 62. He wrote his last will and testament only a few years before, first dealing with his material possessions and his family, and then ending on this paragraph:

“Finally, I also ask of every man, since in this gift or endowment I am not using legal forms and terminology (for which I have good reasons), that he would allow me to be the person which I in truth am, namely, a public figure, known both in heaven and on earth, as well as in hell, having respect or authority enough that one can trust or believe more than any notary. For as God, the Father of all mercies, entrusted to me, a condemned, poor, unworthy, miserable sinner, the gospel of his dear Son and made me faithful and truthful, and has up to now preserved and grounded me in it, so that many in this world have accepted it through me and hold me to be a teacher of the truth, without regard for the pope’s ban, and the anger of the emperor, kings, princes, clerics, yes, of all the devils, one should surely believe me much more in these trifling matters; and especially since this is my very well-known handwriting, the hope is that it should suffice, when on can say and prove that it is Dr. Martin Luther’s (who is God’s notary and witness in his gospel) earnest and well considered opinion to confirm this with his own hand and seal. Executed and delivered on Epiphany Day, 1542.”

Before he died, it is reported that his friend Justus Jonas asked if Luther wanted to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine he had taught. To which Luther answered: “Yes!”

From Dr. Mackenzie’s sermon this morning:

“Well, that’s the point of God’s No. ‘Listen up,’ it says, ‘you’re in big trouble. God condemns all of your thoughts, words, and deeds. You’re heading to hell.’ Only when that “No” at last penetrates our hard and stubborn hearts do we finally hear what God has been saying all the time in Jesus Christ: ‘Yes!’ Yes to forgiveness, yes to life, and yes to salvation.

“This was the Yes that Paul, Silas, and Timothy preached; this was the Yes that Luther preached right up until his end, and, in fact, the Yes that he confessed on his deathbed; and this is the Yes that by God’s grace you and I will also believe and confess at our last moment as well.”

Commemoration: Valentine, Martyr

If you look in the front of your LSB, on pages xii and xiii (before the Psalms), you will find a list of commemorations. Commemorations are days set aside in the church year to remember the saints God has given to His Church, partly as examples to imitate of faithful living (and dying), but most importantly as witnesses of God’s great mercy to His people across time and nations. Commemorations, like the more commonly celebrated feast days, ultimately point to Jesus Christ and His saving work.

Today’s commemoration is one of our more famous–or at least secularly-known–ones: Valentine, martyr. Saint Valentine of Rome ministered to the Christians persecuted in Rome in the third century as both a physician and a priest, and February 14th is the anniversary of his martyrdom. The particular charge against him is unclear, as is the mode of his passing; one thing people seem to agree on is that he died a martyr at the command of Emperor Claudius II and was buried the same day, on the Via Flaminia road between Rome and Rimini.

Legend has it that he wrote a note of encouragement to his jailer’s child on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper the day he died, signing it “from your Valentine.” Another very old, popular story claims that he was arrested for marrying Christian couples despite the emperor’s prohibitions against it, especially for those serving as soldiers. Valentine’s Day became associated with courtly love in the Middle Ages, and it is entirely possible that Valentine refers to two–or even three–different martyrs of the same name, their stories conflated over time.

Rev. Larry Wright, in his chapel sermon this morning, focused the commemoration precisely where it belongs:

“Christian martyrs do not confess themselves. Rather, they confess the one whom they believe, and that is Jesus Christ Himself…Valentine was not sainted because of the number of miracles he did or did not perform. No slight of hand or greeting card trick made him a saint. Rather, all saints are sainted in the same way: they are made holy, they are born again; not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God…

“Rejoice! You who are saints see the cloud of witnesses–their lives of faith encourage and surround us. We do look to witnesses, prophets, martyrs, and saints who stood in the faith, whose faces, some of which we will never see in this world, and some of those even tiny faces who we shall never forget. Yet even more we look to Him in whom they placed their faith, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made manifest in these last times, for our eternal sake. Amen.”

“Saint Valentine Baptizing St. Lucilla” by Jacopo Bassano, 1500s.

Commemoration: Saint Nicholas

Today is the 1,676th (or possibly 1,675th, depending on your source) anniversary of the death of Saint Nicholas–better known on page xiii of the Lutheran Service Book as the commemoration of Nicholas of Myra, Pastor. Much of what we know about the original Santa Claus has to be attributed to legend, as research can only confirm that there was a bishop by the name of Nicholas in the city of Myra in Lycia (now a part of Turkey) and that there was a church of Saint Nicholas in Constantinople in the 6th century.

He is known in the Church for several things: his generosity (tradition says that his wealthy parents died young and that he spent his inheritance on the poor and needy; many stories have grown up around his charity, such as one in which he secretly threw bags of gold through the open windows of the house of a poor man who need it for his daughters’ dowries, the bags landing on the stockings and shoes drying in front of the fire), as a protector of children, and a rescuer of sailors.

We also associate him with the Council of Nicea, from which came the Nicene Creed, an answer to the early church heresy of Arianism that taught that Jesus was more than man but less than God (thus the creed’s very pointed and detailed language: “begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”). Legend has it that he struck either an Arian heretic or Arius himself at this council, though the fact that this story didn’t arise until the 14th century, nearly a thousand years later, and that Nicholas’ name doesn’t even show up in the historical lists of attendees makes the story likely just that: a story.

Regardless of the veracity of these and other tales, we remember Nicholas of Myra as an example of Christian generosity, praying that we may also give out of an abundance of joy and according to the grace given to us (2 Corinthians 8:2; Romans 12:6-8). And perhaps, even, taking the rest as an entertaining reminder that we are called to speak the truth in love and in gentleness, no matter how tempted we are to strike another’s cheek, thanking God that when we fail we too receive a gift that we haven’t earned: His beloved Son, in whom we have the forgiveness of sins.

The Church of St. Nicholas at Myra; Demre, Antalya, Türkiye. Photograph taken on January 13, 2014 by Abdullah kıyga.

Commemoration: Zechariah and Elizabeth

Today is the commemoration of Zechariah and Elizabeth, father and mother of the last of the Old Testament prophets. From Luke 1:5-25 and 57-66:
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In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
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Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
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And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
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After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Left panel of the “St. John Altarpiece;” specifically, the Naming of John the Baptist, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, by Rogier van der Weyden; 1455-1460.

Commemoration: Lawrence, deacon and martyr

“St. Lawrence Distributing the Riches of the Church” by Bernardo Strozzi, 1625.

Today is the commemoration of Lawrence, deacon and martyr. The chief deacon of the church at Rome in the third century, he managed their property and finances. A Roman citizen, Lawrence was nevertheless swept up in Emperor Valerian’s persecution of the Christians in Rome.
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It’s hard to say where history ends and tradition begins in these stories of the early Church. The story goes that the emperor, knowing that Lawrence was the church treasurer, demanded that the deacon give up the “treasures of the church.” Lawrence asked for and received three days in which to gather up these treasures. At the end of those three days, the deacon returned to Valerian with all the outcasts of the city: the widows and orphans, the ill and the aged, and the poor. These, he said, were the treasures of the Church.
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Enraged, the emperor ordered him roasted on a gridiron. If the stories are true, Lawrence took his martyrdom with not only a calm sense of assurance in His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but maintained a rather grim sense of humor. “Turn me over,” he told his executioner. “This side is done.”

MALACHI 3:16-17
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
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[Jesus said,] “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
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LUKE 12:32-34
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
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But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Commemoration: Joanna, Mary, and Salome (Myrrhbearers)

MATTHEW 27:54-56:
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
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MARK 16:1-2:
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
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LUKE 24:1-12:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

“Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb” by Fra Angelico, 1440-1442. Fresco in Basilica di San Marco, Florence, Italy.

These faithful women (either mothers of disciples and/or having been healed of their demons or other infirmities by Christ), served Jesus during His earthly ministry, caring for the physical needs of both Him and His disciples out of their own means. They attempted to minister to Him one last time, following His death, only to be told the best news of all time: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matt. 28:6).

Commemoration: Joseph of Arimathea

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
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After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:31-38

On this, the commemoration of Joseph of Arimathea, we remember “a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:50b-51). A faithful disciple of Jesus, and yet who followed him only in secret. Thanks be to God that He uses us for His good and gracious will, despite our cowardice and our faithlessness.

‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-6

Pictures of the interior of the monastery in Dobbertin, Parchim district, Mecklenbrug-Vorpommern, Germany, “Altar of the Crucifixion” by Gaston Lenthe in 1857. Pictures taken by user “Niteshift” on Closeup of the right wing of the altar shows the centurion, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Commemoration: Robert Barnes

“But as God is my iudge, and also my conscience, and all my wordes, and dedes, and all maner of my lyuynge, and conuersacion, I dyd neuer entende, to speake agaynst the byshops, or els any other man, further than theyr lyuyng, and conuersacion were agaynst the blessed worde of God, and the holy doctrine of Christes churche”

So wrote Robert Barnes in his supplication to King Henry VIII in 1531, posted today in honor of his commemoration. Translated from the Middle English: “But as God is my judge and also my conscience, and all my words and deeds and all manner of my living and conversation, I never intended to speak against the bishops or else any other man, further than their living and conversation were against the blessed Word of God and the holy doctrine of Christ’s Church.”
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An Englishman and prior at Cambridge, Barnes was a convert to Lutheranism who actually studied under Martin Luther after fleeing England at threat of execution (after two years of house arrest for heresy). Barnes returned to England to deliver a letter from Luther to Henry the Eighth, who had hoped that these new Protestants would give him permission to divorce his wife when the Catholics refused. They did not, and it kicked off a precariously dangerous relationship between Barnes and the King, who needed political ties to the German Lutheran princes and was thus willing to offer him the crown’s protection. Under this reluctant protection, Barnes was able to preach in his home country. He was eventually martyred in 1540, burned to death with two other Protestant preachers.
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For a more detailed rundown on Robert Barnes, written by 2011 Fort Wayne grad, Rev. Anthony Dodgers, CLICK HERE.
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And since Middle English is still largely accessible to English speakers, here is another excerpt from “A Supplication to King Henry VIII” (or “A Supplication Vnto the Most Gracyous Prince Kynge Henry The. VIIJ.”). Middle English is surprisingly easy to pick up, especially when you read it out loud and can then hear how familiar the words sound. Keep in mind that y = i, i = j, “v” is interchangeable with “u”, “e” is often left off or added to the end of words, and that there was no spelling or grammar standard at the time.

(Please note that I have also included a translation immediately following the Middle English, for those who don’t want to try deciphering the original wall of text.)
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Onely faythe iustifieth before God.
Nowe, yf your grace do not take vpon you, to here the disputacyon, and the probacyon of this artycle out of the grounde of holy scripture, my lordes the byshops wyll condempne it, afore they rede it, as theyr maner is to do with al thynges, that pleaseth them not, and whiche they vnderstande not: and than crye they heresy, heresy, an heretyke, an heretyke, he ought not to be herde, for his matters be condempned by the churche, and by holy fathers, and by all longe customes, and by all maner of lawes. Vnto whom, with your graces fauoure, I make this answere. I wolde know of them, yf all these thynges, that they haue here reckened can ouercome Christe, and his holy worde, or set the holy ghost to schole? And yf they can not, why shulde not I than be herde? that do requyre it in the name of Christ? and also bryng for me his holy worde, And the holy fathers, whiche haue vnderstande Gods worde as I do? Therfore thoughe they wyll no here me, yet muste they nedes here them. In holy scripture, Christe is nothynge elles, but a sauyour, a redemer, a iustifier, and a perfecte peace maker, betwene God, and man. this testimonye dyd the aungell gyue of hym in these wordes. He shal saue his people from theyre synnes. And also saynt Paule, Christe is made our ryghtwisnes, our satisfaction, and our redempcion. Moreouer, the prophete wytnesseth the same, sayinge, For the wretchednes of my people, haue I stryken hym. So that here haue we Christe with his propertyes. Nowe yf we wyll truely confesse Christ, than must we graunt with our hertes, that Christ is all our iustice, all our redemption, all our wysdome, all our holynes, all alonly the purchaser of grace, alonly the peace maker betwene God and man. Breuely all goodnes that we haue, that it is of hym, by hym, and for his sake onely. And that we haue nede of nothyng towardes our saluacyon, but of hym onely, and we desyre no nother saluacyon, nor no nother satisfaction, nor any helpe of any other creature, other heuenly or earhtly, but of hym onely, for as saynt Peter saythe, there is no nother name gyuen vnto men, wherin they muste be saued. And also saynt Paule saythe, by hym are all that beleue iustified from all thynges. Moreouer saynt Johnn wytnesseth the same, in these wordes. He it is, that hath optayned grace for our synnes. And in a nother place. He sente his sonne to make agrement, for our synnes.

TRANSLATION (with added paragraph breaks for readability):
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Now, if your grace does not take it upon yourself to hear the disputation and the probation of this article from the grounds of Holy Scripture, my lords the bishops will condemn it before they read it as their manner is to do with all things that do not please them and which they don’t understand: and then cry, “Heresy, heresy! A Heretic, a heretic! He ought not to be heard for his matters are condemned by the Church and by holy fathers and by all long customs and all manner of laws.” Unto whom, with your grace’s favor, I make this answer:
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I would know of them if all these things that they have here reckoned can overcome Christ and His holy Word, or set the Holy Ghost to school? And if they cannot, why should I not then be heard? That do require it in the name of Christ? And also bring for me his Holy Word, and the holy fathers, which have understood God’s Word as I do?
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Therefore, though they will not hear me, yet must they need hear them. In Holy Scripture, Christ is nothing else but a savior, a redeemer, a justifier, and perfect peacemaker between God and man. This testimony did the angel give of Him in these words: “He shall save His people from their sins.” And also Saint Paul: “Christ is made our righteousness, our satisfaction, and our redemption.” Moreover, the prophet witnesses the same, saying, “For the wretchedness of my people have I stricken him.” So that here have we Christ with his properties.
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Now if we will truly confess Christ, then must we grant with our hearts that Christ is all our justice, all our redemption, all our wisdom, all our holiness, all alone the purchaser of grace, alone the peacemaker between God and man. Truly all goodness that we have is of Him, by Him, and for His sake only. And that we have need of nothing towards our salvation but of Him only, and we deserve no other salvation nor another satisfaction nor any help of any other creature, either heavenly or earthly, but of Him only, for as Saint Peter says, “There is no other name given unto men, wherein they must be saved.” And also Saint Paul says, “By Him are all that believe justified from all things.” Moreover Saint John witnesses the same, in these words: “He it is, that has obtained grace for our sins.” And in another place: “He sent His Son to make agreement* for our sins.”
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*”atonement” could likely stand in for “agreement” here

Commemoration: Johann Sebastian Bach

Tomorrow is the commemoration of one of the Lutheran church’s most famous Kantors, Johann Sebastian Bach. Born in 1685, Bach was not only a musician but an excellent theologian, basing his text on Scripture and composing nearly all of his music for use in the church service, with most of his cantatas concluding with a chorale based on a Lutheran hymn. One of the most famous examples of this is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” which was based on a hymn written by Martin Janus and a melody composed by Johann Schop. Bach wrote the harmonies and created the orchestration for the piece.

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

These familiar words are not, in fact, a direct translation, but were written instead by the poet Robert Bridges, who used the original as inspiration. Here are the original stanzas from the hymn “Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne,” translated into English by Francis Browne:

What joy for me that I have Jesus,
oh how firmly I hold on to Him
so that He may make my heart rejoice,
when I am sick and mournful.
I have Jesus, who loves me
and gives Himself to me for His own.
Ah, therefore I shall not let go of Jesus,
even if my heart should break.

Jesus remains my joy,
the comfort and life’s blood of my heart,
Jesus defends me against all sorrows,
He is my life’s strength,
the delight and sun of my eyes
my soul’s treasure and joy;
therefore I shall not let Jesus go
from my heart and sight.

Bach did, of course, write and compose an incredible amount of original work as well. If you’re looking to fill three hours in your afternoon, search for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (titled on his own manuscript copy as “Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum” or, “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew,” with the Scripture highlighted in red ink). A musical drama without the costume changes (essentially an opera that depends entirely on vocal performance), this oratorio depicts Christ’s suffering and death on Good Friday. Excerpted from about halfway into the piece:

O mankind, mourn your great sins,
for which Christ left his Father’s bosom
and came to earth;
from a virgin pure and tender
he was born here for us,
he wished to become our Intercessor,
he gave life to the dead
and laid aside all sickness
until the time approached
that he would be offered for us,
bearing the heavy burden of our sins
indeed for a long time on the Cross.