Being God’s Student

Lent 3 Monday

John 4:9-10

“The Samaritan woman said to him: “How is it that you ask me for a drink, since you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman?” (For the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is one who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”

We should well learn that this is also said to us. If we recognized this give, we would get the true water in which the Holy Spirit would be given to us. But, by God’s grace, we have made a small beginning in recognizing what God’s gift is and who this teacher is. If you did not recognize this, I could not teach you. Rather, things would be like in the papacy where people were told: “Run here; run there.” But of God’s gift, we only have the first fruits, not the tithe. We begin to recognize that it is an unspeakable gift that God speaks to us and we are honored to be God’s students and disciples. This is what it means to know what the gift is and who the doctor and teacher is. We have begun to recognize this so that we and our hearers know that they do not hear a man but God who speaks things to us that bring with them an eternal treasure. This is why we always hear that we cannot say enough of it and that we must do here like a stammering child. We do not fully understand the incomprehensible treasure we have in the divine Word; and you do not fully grasp who the person is who speaks to you in order to boast that you are a student–not of a king or emperor, but of God…Now, it is a treasure to have a gracious prince or to be a prince’s councilor. But behold the glorious man who can say: “I am God’s student whom I hear speak to me–not an angel, pastor, or prince, but God himself–and I am his councilor.” For he says: “My sermon is an excellent gift, and the wealth and glory of the world are nothing but dirt by comparison.” Friend, let this be a treasure to you: God himself speaks into your bodily ear–the only problem is that we do not recognize this gift. For I certainly hear the sermon–but who is talking? The pastor? Not so! You do not hear the pastor. To be sure, the
voice is the pastor’s, but the Word that he speaks–my God speaks that Word. This is why I should honor God’s Word so that I may become an excellent student of the Word. If we saw things this way, we would gladly go to church and hear the sermon…But since we do not give honor to the divine Word, and also do not care about our own glory, we do not hear the Word, and people do not listen to people except when they have a good voice…When you pay attention more to the pastor than to God, then you do not see the person of God, but only gape at a man who is learned and skilled, who enunciates the words well. For truly, the bad speaker speaks God’s Word as much as the good speaker. The father speaks God’s Word as much as God. And your neighbor speaks God’s Word as much as the angel Gabriel. The Word the student
speaks is no different than the one the angel Gabriel speaks, just that the latter can speak it better than the former. Let the vessels be unequal–some are made of silver, others of tin, or of glazed clay–but the same food is served in silver, tin, and clay vessels. And the well-seasoned and well-prepared venison tastes as well on a wooden plate as on a silver one. Think about baptism and absolution likewise. Let this be your comfort.

St. Louis ed., 7:1244-1246.

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