Easter 3 Monday
“And [Christ] said to them: “You fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not Christ have to suffer this and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all of Scripture.”
This gospel depicts especially the weakness of faith in the disciples and how Christ in his kingdom shows himself and acts toward those who are weak in the faith. For this is what we see in the entire history of the gospel concerning the resurrection how all the apostles and all the other disciples were too weak to believe this article, even until his ascension, so that he has to rebuke them for not believing those who had seen him risen, Mark 16:14, although he had previously proclaimed to them many times from Scripture that he would have to be crucified and rise on the third day. We learn from this, first, how weakness and infirmities remain also in those who are now Christians and holy, especially in the lofty articles of doctrine and faith, so that they cannot understand this as quickly as they should or grasp it as strongly as they should. We also learn that faith is not such an insignificant and easy thing as the ignorant and inexperienced spirits think and as our coarse blockheads, the pope’s asses, allege who think that faith is nothing but having heard and knowing the history and account and then thinking that they have everything the gospel says about Christ if they have heard or read it once, that the gospel is quickly figured out and believed so that they no longer need to learn or believe anything about it. But they themselves prove that this is nothing but a loose, empty thought since they must confess that such knowledge of history remains quiet, cold, and lazy in their heart as a mere empty husk, without any sap and strength. It does not benefit them or help them; it neither strengthens nor improves them, although this great, lofty work of the resurrection of Christ took place – and it is to be preached, heard, and recognized – so that it may bear fruit in us, awakening and kindling our heart, working new thoughts, understanding and courage, life and joy, comfort and strength in us. Where this does not happen, there the history has been heard in vain and is dead in you as it is in Muslims and pagans who have never known about it or at least have never considered it to be true. And you may not boast of any faith, even if you have retained the foam on the tongue or the sound in the ears and the dream of the history in your memory – the heart neither knows nor tastes any of it. The papists well demonstrate with their entire doctrine and life that they do not believe anything about this article in their hearts because they teach people to seek and get from themselves and through their own works and merits the very strength and benefit Christ’s resurrection was to produce in them. And because they condemn, blaspheme, and persecute the salutary doctrine that directs us away from their cheap lies to Christ and the power of his resurrection. But the Christians and believers experience both in others and in themselves, and confess it as their weakness, that they cannot grasp this article by faith and bring it into their hearts as strongly as they should. They must fight and struggle against such weakness of theirs throughout their whole lives, as St. Paul says himself in Philippians 3:12 that he has not grasped it, but always strives after it and stretches himself out so that he may grasp it, namely, to know the strength of the resurrection of Christ.