The Foundation of All Christian Doctrine

Epiphany 2 Monday

John 1:29

“The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Look, this is the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world.”

John directs his disciples to the Lamb, saying: “Do you want to know where the sins of the world have been placed in order to be forgiven? Do not look to the law of Moses; do not run to the devil. For there you will find sin by which you are terrified and condemned. But if you want to know a place where the sins of the world are killed and taken away, look to the cross.” And the Lord placed all our sins on the back of this Lamb, as the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 53:6, where
he says: “We all have gone astray like the lost, erring sheep, each went on his way.” One went here, the other there. One sought God in this way, the other sought him in that way. And there were countless ways and manners of finding God. And this is how it has to be when you miss the true highway and route and get to crossroads and are led down garden paths. Then one wrong track leads to hundreds more. One sought help from the rule of St. Francis, the other sought help
in the order of St. Benedict. The pope and Muslims, each following their own ideas, come up with their own way to atone for sin. But it says: “They all go astray.” But which is now the right way so that we do not miss it? For the farther you get off the right track, the more confused you become. Isaiah answers: “This is the right way, that the Lord has cast all our sin on him and that he struck him for the sake of his people’s sin.” When we all went astray, God placed all our sin on
the back of his Lamb and on no one else. He ordained the Lamb that it should bear the sin of the world. This is why a Christian should single-mindedly stay with this verse and not let it be taken from him. For there is no other comfort in heaven or on earth by which we can prevail in all temptations, especially in the agony of death. And if you believe that the entire world’s sins are placed on this Lamb, the pope…must be the anti-Christ for you. For the pope has taught this: A
Christian must consider how to bear his own sin and how to extinguish sin by alms-giving and the like, as they shamelessly lie to this day. But if this is true, then my sins are still on me, but not on Christ, the Lamb. Then I would have to be condemned and lost. But He does bear the sin–not just mine or yours or of any other person individually or of a single kingdom and land, but of the whole world. And you too are part of this world…This is the foundation of all Christian doctrine. If you believe it, you are a Christian. If you do not believe it, you are not a Christian and will get what is coming your way. It is said clearly enough: “This is God’s Lamb that bears the sins of the Word.” And the text is God’s Word, not our word. And we did not invent it that God killed the Lamb for this reason and that the Lamb, out of obedience to the Father, shouldered the sins of the world. But this world does not want to go this way; it begrudges the
dear Lamb the honor that we can be saved only because it bears our sin. The world also wants to be something, but the more it wants to do and atone for its sin, the worse it gets. For there is no atoner for sin besides this Lamb–God does not want to know of any other. Would it not be proper and right to enshrine these words in our heart so that we might know to distinguish our sin?

St. Louis ed., 7:1718-1720.

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