The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
February 11, 1996
"...God here directs and works wonderfully by making the first last and the last first. And all is spoken to humble those who are great that they should trust in nothing but the goodness and mercy of God. And on the other hand that those who are nothing should not despair, but trust in the goodness of God just as the others do."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 106.
"Now in this way Christ strikes a blow first against the presumption (as He also does in today's Epistle) of those who would storm their way into heaven by their good works; as the Jews did and wished to be next to God; as hitherto our own clergy have also done. These all labor for definite wages, that is, they take the law of God in no other sense than that they should fulfil it by certain defined works for a specified reward, and they never understand it correctly, and know not that before God all is pure grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 108.
"Let us see what they [first and last] mean before God, then what they mean before men. Thus, those who are the first in the eyes of man, that is, those who consider themselves, or let themselves be considered, as the nearest to or the first before God, they are just the opposite before God, they are the last in His eyes and the farthest from Him. On the other hand those who are the last in the eyes of man, those who consider themselves, or let themselves be considered, the farthest from God and the last before Him, they also are just the opposite, in that they are the nearest and the first before God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 109.