Test the Spirits

Epiphany 1 Tuesday

Matthew 3:13

“At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John in order to be baptized by him.”

While John testifies concerning Christ, Christ himself remains in Nazareth, unknown. He remains with his mother. He is not rich. He leads a poor life and has no renown among the Jews. Now, John’s testimony does not help, no matter how much he tells them about the carpenter. This is what commonly happens: when something is not present, everybody talks about it. But when it comes before one’s eyes, everybody disregards it. No one believed that the carpenter should be the Christ about whom the great John told them. They thought: “If he is among us, why do not all the bells ring? Why do they not deck out all the streets? Where are his horses, carriages, horsemen, and armor? Indeed, should Jesus the carpenter be the one?” Thus, while John’s testimony goes forth and no one knows him, including John who only knows him by the Spirit of God, Jesus comes from Nazareth to John by the Jordan. So far, he had been subject and obedient to his mother. But now he bids her farewell and becomes her Lord, goes to the Jordan and does not return home as before. He leaves her and assumes his office for which his Father had sent him, goes forth and lets himself be baptized. Although
he had power to baptize, he does not use this power, but acts like everybody else and is baptized by John. How awkwardly and simply does he come along! Who would have thought of him as the Messiah? For he acts like every other
person who came to John’s baptism. But since he was greater than John, as John says, he should have said to John: “You shall not baptize me. This is my office; I shall baptize you.” But he does not say this. He hides himself. He acts as if he is not the Christ. He does not say a word about it. He makes himself look completely insignificant. This is an amazing humility. He does not have trumpets sound before him. He does not glorify himself until the Father glorifies him. It is just as Paul says in Hebrews 5:5, he bided his time until the voice came from heaven: “This is my dear Son.” Christ was God’s Son; he had all things in his power. Still, he did not want to take the office on his own: He did not preach. Until 30 years were past, he did not indicate in any way that he was the Spirit-filled man who was to help all men. He did not do what we do: when we read only a word, we cannot contain ourselves and must burst forth with our little bit; the whole world must hear it–just how can we get the maximum number of ears to hear it? Accordingly, our sectarian spirits are eager to produce some novel thing so that they are heard. They forget that Christ here taught by his example that no one should assume the preaching office without a call…Accordingly, this is what you should do: If you feel that some spirit is telling you something, go to someone else and talk to him about this to determine whether it is right and according to our faith and Scripture, as John says in 1 John 4:1: “You are to test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” And St. Paul says in Romans 12:6: “If someone has a prophecy, let it be according to the faith.” But bursting forth just like that, conferring with no one about it, and wanting to defend oneself, explaining oneself and being unwilling to be subject to anyone–that is certainly the devil. Christ is full of the Spirit. But he does not speak a word and does not do a work unless the Father has first glorified him. He does not want to assume the office on his own, but by someone else, namely, by
the Father. Yet once glorified by the Father, Christ takes up the matter, carries out his office, teaches, preaches, and works miracles. And then things also succeeded.
St. Louis ed., 11:2133-2136.
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