His Gracious Will for Us

From “Christ, An Example of Love” in Church Postils, Palm Sunday (1525).

“All this Christ surely did not do because we were worthy of it. Who could be worthy of such service from such a one? Obedience to the Father moved him. Here, Paul with one word unlocks heaven and permits us look into the unfathomable abyss of divine majesty and behold the ineffable love of the Fatherly heart toward us — his gracious will for us.

He shows us how from eternity it has been God’s pleasure that Christ, the glorious one who has wrought all this, should do it for us. What human heart would not melt at the joy-inspiring thought? Who would not love, praise and thank God and in return for his goodness, not only be ready to serve the world, but gladly to embrace the extremity of humility? Who would not so do when he is aware that God himself has such precious regard for him, and points to the obedience of his Son as the pouring out and evidence of his Fatherly will?

Oh, the significance of the words Paul here uses! such words as he uses in no other place! He must certainly have burned with joy and cheer. To gain such a glimpse of God — surely this must be coming to the Father through Christ. Here is truly illustrated the truth that no one comes to Christ except the Father draw him; and with what power, what delicious sweetness, the Father allures!

“Wherefore also God highly exalted him.” (Philippians 2:9)

As Christ was cast to the lowest depths and subjected to all devils, in obeying God and serving us, so has God exalted him Lord over all angels and creatures, and over death and hell. Christ now has completely divested himself of the servant form—laid it aside. Henceforth he exists in the divine form, glorified, proclaimed, confessed, honored and recognized as God.

While it is not wholly apparent to us that “all things are put in subjection” to Christ, as Paul says (1 Cor. 15:27), the trouble is merely with our perception of the fact. It is true that Christ is thus exalted in person and seated on high in the fullness of power and might, executing everywhere his will; though few believe the order of events is for the sake of Christ. Freely the events order themselves, and the Lord sits enthroned free from all restrictions.

But our eyes are as yet blinded. We do not perceive him there nor recognize that all things obey his will. The last day, however, will reveal it. Then we shall comprehend present mysteries; how Christ laid aside his divine form, was made man, and so on; how he also laid aside the form of a servant and resumed the divine likeness; how as God he appeared in glory; and how he is now Lord of life and death, and the King of Glory… Remember, God desires us to serve one another with body, property, honor, spirit and soul, even as his Son served us.”

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. He wrote the Church Postils, lengthy, exegetical sermons on the traditional Eucharistic readings, during the early days of his reforming program to train local pastors in Scripture interpretation. He is commemorated on February 18 on the liturgical calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican churches.


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