Lent 4 Wednesday
“The Lord nonetheless meant them well for the sake of his righteousness in order to glorify and magnify the law. But it is a robbed and plundered people; they are all trapped in caves and hidden in dungeons; they have become plunder with none to rescue; spoil with none who says, “Restore!””
Isaiah says the same here as Christ in Matthew 11:23: “I praise you, Father, that you have hidden this from the wise and the understanding and have revealed it to the little ones.” For he talks about the rejection of human righteousness and about the lifting up of the righteousness of God, as if he meant to say: God did not reject the synagogue because he delights in error, but because he delights in his righteousness. He cannot magnify or lift up this righteousness unless he brings to naught the righteousness of works. He cannot justify and save us, the Gentiles, by his righteousness, unless he causes those to perish who despise the righteousness that is offered for free so that they take offense, fall back, and perish. This is, then, how he delights in his righteousness: He magnifies his law, that is, he makes a new and wonderful law, namely, the law of faith (after the old law of Moses was set aside) by which we are justified without any merit and works, only through faith that lays hold of Christ and the grace that is given us through Christ. Those who do not want this new law of faith are a robbed and plundered people, that is, they are exposed to the wolves and seducers who rob and plunder them. This is why we should diligently learn and firmly grasp the article of justification which we alone teach today. For when we lose this article, we will not be able to resist any heresy, any false doctrine, no matter how ridiculous and vain it may be, as it was under the papacy when we believed the kinds of things of which we are now ashamed and which we now regret. Contrariwise, if we remain with this article of justification, we are safe from heresy and retain the forgiveness of sins that overlooks the weakness in our life and faith. But we do not need a more detailed exposition of this verse; we only need to think back to the papacy and consider what people believed, did, and endured in it. Then we realize what it means to be “robbed and plundered,” to be “trapped,” to be in “dungeons,” and the like.