The First Word of Grace

Easter 3 Friday

Luke 24:25-27

“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.”

 

One of the verses Christ adduced from Moses was Genesis 3:15. There is written the first word of grace that God gave Adam and Eve when he said to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your see and her Seed. He will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.” Jews, Muslims, pagans, and human reason read this verse, but for them, these words are hard rocks, even dead, useless words, out of which they cannot do anything. But when the revelation is added to it, people understand that this verse means: The serpent, the devil, worked death and eternal wrath of God in Adam and Eve by means of sin. But so that such a horrible fall and calamity, into which they were led by the devil, might be helped, God found this counsel in himself out of his undeserved mercy: By the woman’s Seed, that is, by a natural Child of a woman, the serpent’s head – that is, sin, death, and eternal wrath – should be crushed and disarmed so that it would no longer be a lord of death and not be able to subject man to sin or keep him in God’s wrath and condemnation. From this verse follows an entire new testament, all sermons of St. Paul and the apostles who do not recount much of the history and miracles of Christ, but who, wherever possible, make an entire meadow out of this one flower. In fact, when the revelation and the Holy Spirit are added to it who knows to distill the words just right, then these words have power and strength. For, first of all, these words show that this Seed must be a natural child, born of a woman, but without sin. For Scripture testifies that what is born out of man and woman in the word, is in sin and under God’s curse, as David says, Psalm 51:5. … This is why God here took this measure that he, for the conception and birth of the promised Seed, used only a woman who becomes the mother of the Child, without a man, by the Holy Spirit who works such conception and birth in her that the Child would nonetheless be a natural man of our flesh and blood, but without any sin and power of the devil, so that he would be able to crush the devil’s head. Second, if he is to be a Lord over sin and death; if he is to subject the devil and throw him out of his power, he must have a divine, almighty power. For it is not a human power and ability – even if man were completely pure and without any defect of body and soul, as Adam was created at first – to take away this eternal, endless calamity and doom and to create and give an eternal, imperishable good and life. This is why it follows that he must have a power that is greater than that of all creatures and angels. No one can be this but God himself, the Lord over all creatures. From this also follows: If he was born of a man, he also is mortal and must also die bodily like other men. And since he was born a man for our sake and was also sent by God to help us from sin and death, he had to take our place and become a sacrifice for us to bear himself the wrath and curse, under which we had fallen, and make satisfaction for it. But he was not to remain under them, but death could not hold him because he was an eternal person, as St. Peter says in Acts 2:31. Instead, he, before his body would be consumed and decay, had to break through with his body and pull himself out of death. By his resurrection and eternal life he had to begin to reign mightily, in eternal power and glory, so as to bring also those who are his finally out of, and over, sin, death, and devil to eternal righteousness and life.

 

St. Louis ed., 11:675-677.

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