Saturday, September 26, 2015

Martin Luther on Christ is the Way and the Truth

Therefore the real art consists in this: that we travel this road only and do not follow the deceiver and the spirit of lies, who tries constantly to lead us from this way onto his devious paths. He attempts to tear these thoughts of faith from our hearts and to remove this Christ from our sight as the only Way and Means, so that we no longer have Christ in mind, especially in the hour when this is necessary. He conjures up other thoughts, such as St. Thomas also entertained, as though Christ were far removed from us, high up in heaven, and of no further use to us. Then he prompts us to seek other ways and paths, and we exclaim: "Oh, if only I had lived differently! If only I had done this or that! Oh, that God would reprieve me! Then I would become pious and lead an austere life!" When you say this, you have already missed the way of the Lord Christ most woefully and are completely on the wrong track and have strayed into devious paths that lead into the pit of hell. For you will never succeed in giving this text the lie: "I am the Way, and no one else." No matter what all the Carthusians, monks, and saints contemplate and do, here you hear Christ Himself declare: "Why are you searching for other ways and paths? I have no other way to show you than Myself. If you know Me, you know the way; for I and the way are identical. If you miss Me, you will never find the way, even if you were to walk yourself to death in your search."

Therefore, even though we adduce these and similar verses, and persuade people to concede that these statements are true, Mr. Smart Aleck comes along; indeed, the devil himself meddles in with his clever reasoning. His purpose is to keep them on the wrong road and to invalidate these beautiful sayings. He suggests this interpretation: Christ taught and commanded us well how to live and conduct ourselves; He gave us good examples to follow. If we observe and do this, we find the way to heaven. Thus Christ is transformed into nothing but a Moses, who confines himself to our works and conduct, thereby directing our attention to ourselves. This is missing the right knowledge completely; this is shamefully obscuring, yes, perverting this salutary verse.

Behold, thus we must  learn to regard and to know our Lord Christ: not as One who helps us only with His teaching and example, and has now departed from us like other saints, but as the One who is and remains constantly at our side and within us, particularly in the hour when this life comes to an end, and who is so close that He alone is in our hearts. This happens when I believe staunchly in Him as the Savior who has passed through death unto the Father for me, in order to take me there too. Then I am on the right Way, the Way we must take and travel from this to the life beyond. This journey begins in Baptism. And as long as there is faith, man continues on this course until he completes it through death. For faith does not err and stray; but wherever the Christ is to whom it adheres, there it also must be and remain. And the stronger the faith is, the more surely this Way is traveled. For this walking is nothing but a constant growth in faith and in an ever-stronger assurance of eternal life in Christ. If I persist in this faith and death attacks me and throws me down, if it chokes me in my prime, or takes me by sword or fire and takes away all my five senses, then the journey is over, and I am already at my destination as I leap into yonder life.
Martin Luther
Sermon on John 14:5-6