Flesh and Blood

From Sermons on the Gospel of John (1528)

St. John points out that Jesus is God and has been God from eternity, antedating the world and the beginning of all things., also that God created the world and all creatures through the Word., his only begotten Son and divine wisdom. But he also says that through Christ God still governs and preserves creation and will govern and preserve his creation until the end of time… He himself abides eternally. For he is God and in him resides that life that cannot and will not die…

“The Word became flesh” The most precious treasure and the strongest consolation we Christians have is this: the Word, the true and natural Son of God, became man, with flesh and blood, like that of any other human; that he became incarnate for our sakes in order that we might enter into great glory, that our flesh and blood, skin and hair, hands and feet, stomach and back might reside in heaven as God does, and in order that we might boldly defy the devil and whatever else assails us. We are convinced… that all our members are heirs of heaven’s realm.

Arius and other heretics impugned the article concerning the deity of Christ. Heretics also arose to call his humanity into question. They asserted that Christ, the true Son of God, was without a soul, inferring this from the fact that the evangelist failed to mention a soul, but said “the word became flesh.” Apollinarians alleged that Christ only adopted a human body, declaring that his divinity replaced the soul. They were stupid asses.  It would just as logical to say that Christ had no body either, for “flesh” and “body” are not identical…

In spite of the fact that throughout scripture body and soul, together with all their capacities, are called “flesh,” those stupid asses take the word to mean the kind of flesh dogs or wolves have. Those people have no understanding of scripture. The text, “the Word became flesh” supports our position. “The Word,” that is, the eternal Son of God, “became flesh,” that is, became man, born of the Virgin Mary…

Christ, our Lord and God, assumed true human nature, not the nature of an immaterial phantom. He became a natural man like any other man of flesh and blood. He did not flutter about like a spirit, but dwelled among men… His mother nursed him as any other child is nursed… Christ’s human nature was inseparably united with the divine since his Incarnation… He ate and drank, was angry and sad, he prayed and wept. He executed his Father’s mission, suffered persecution and death in the end… We should accept the Incarnation gladly with all our hearts as something for our welfare and comfort, and we should thank God for it sincerely.

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. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches.  This translation of the text is from Luther’s Works, Jaroslav Pelikan, ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 1957)


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