The Right Land, Place, Tribe, Family, Town, Person, Spirit and Word

Epiphany 1 Monday

Matthew 3:16-17

“And when Jesus had been baptized, he immediately went up from the water. And look, heaven opened up above him. And he saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove and come over him. And look, a voice from heaven said: This is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased.”

Indeed, it is a great and excellent grace and mercy of God that the divine majesty descends in this way and makes us certain concerning Christ in this way and certifies the matter most definitely by the prophets. He determines a certain time, land, tribe, family, town, and person. The land: He wanted to be born in the Jewish land, as Christ himself says in John 4:22: “Salvation is from the Jews and from no other nation.” The tribe (for the Jewish people was divided in twelve tribes) was the tribe of Judah, as patriarch Jacob prophesies in Genesis 49:10. The families: He was to come from the family of David; that was to be his flesh and blood. He also sets apart the town where he was to be born, namely, at
Bethlehem, as is written in Micah 5:2, as Matthew 2:6 adduces it where he says: “And you, Bethlehem in the Jewish land are by no means the smallest among the princes of Judah; for out of you is to come the duke that is to be a Lord over my people Israel.” This is spoken in no uncertain terms and well assured; the kind and gracious God does not want us to go astray. Now that the person is at hand, he also has him indicated, has fingers pointed at him, saying: “He is the one; there you have him.” He lets John precede him as a great prophet who, because of such office, is called an angel of the Lord in Scripture, namely, in Malachi 3:1: “Look, I will send my angel, and he will prepare the way before my face,” as
Christ himself applies these words in Matthew 11:10 to John whom the people, due to his holiness, considered to be a prophet or even Christ. This great man had to run before Christ and point to him, so that we might be certain where our salvation was to be. And what happens? When the prophets had foretold the land, tribe, family, and town, John comes along and makes it even clearer, showing us the person as well. The testimony was exceedingly great; it could not h
ave been greater and more certain. For John had great renown among the people. He points to him with his finger and says: “This is the Lamb. This is the man who can help you from your sins.” It cannot be more certain. God presents an
exalted, excellent man to us. And that man places Christ before our eyes and makes the matter so certain that it could not be more certain. For I could not make something more certain than by pointing to it with my finger, saying: “There it is.” This is how John makes the Jews certain, uses many words and says in John 1:26-29: “This is the Lamb. He is the one I have told you about that he is among you. He is greater than I am.” He also spoke many other words, as the evangelist John wrote them. For if he had not assured us in this way, we would have swayed back and forth. In particular, the Jews might have thought: He might be born in a different land, place, tribe, family, or town. But now God comes along and ties us to the person, to Christ himself. And at last, he gives a higher testimony from heaven. He not only points to him by a man’s finger, but by God himself with his Spirit. And he confirms and assures all this by his Word and says from heaven above: “This is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased.” All this took place so that we should know that it is no insignificant matter, but that much depends on it that he assures us by holy people, by himself, and by his Spirit, so
that all creatures must confess that he is the Christ, so that we cling to Christ, disregarding everybody else.

St. Louis ed., 11:2131-2132.

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