Advent 1 Wednesday
“Say to the Daughter Zion: “Look, your King comes to you, gentle, and rides on a donkey and on a foal of a beast of burden.””
Fifth, he says that he comes. Without a doubt, you do not come to him or fetch him; he is too high and too far for you. You may not reach him with your expenditures, labors, and work, lest you boast as if you had brought him to you by your merit and worthiness. No, dear man, all merit and worthiness here lies in the dust and there is not but utter demerit and unworthiness on your side and utter grace and mercy on his side. “The poor and the rich here meet,” as David says in the psalms. Hereby are condemned all the shameful, unchristian teachings about the free will issuing from the pope, the universities, and monasteries. For all their teaching consists in that we should make the beginning by taking the first step. We are to make the beginning by seeking God, come to him, run after him, and acquire his grace. Beware, beware of this poison; these are nothing but devilish teachings by which the world is seduced. Before you call upon or seek God, God must first have come and find you, as Paul says in Romans 10:14-15…God must take the first step and make the beginning in you so that you may seek and ask him. He is already there when you begin and seek. But if he is not there, you will certainly not begin anything but utter sin, and this all the more if you undertake greater and holier works and
become a hardened hypocrite…Learn from this gospel how it happens when God begins to make us good and what is the
beginning of becoming good. There is no other beginning than that your King comes to you and begins in you. This happens in this way: The gospel must be the first to be preached and heard. In it, you hear and learn how your thing is nothing before God and how all you do or begin is sin; rather, your King must be in you first. Look, there your salvation begins when you drop your work and despair of yourself because you hear and see that all your things are sin and nothing, as the gospel tells you. And then you begin and receive your King by faith, cling to him, call upon his grace, and take comfort in his goodness alone. Yet the fact that you hear and receive this is not owed to your strength, but is due to God’s grace that renders the gospel fruitful in you so that you believe that you and your thing are nothing. For you see how few there are who accept it, so that Christ weeps over Jerusalem also for this reason…Furthermore, that the gospel is preached and your King comes is not in your power or merit; God must send it out of pure grace. Therefore, there is no greater wrath of God than when he does not send the gospel…Contrariwise, there is no greater grace than where he sends his gospel…See, this is what “your King comes” means: You do not seek him, he seeks you; you do not find him, he finds you. For the preachers come from him, not from you. Their sermon comes from him, not from you. Your faith comes from him, not from you. And everything faith works in you, comes from him, not from you. You see that if he does not come, you remain on the outside. Where the gospel is not, there is not God but utter sin and condemnation, no matter what the free will does, suffers, makes, lives.