To be Crucified Means that Faith is Tested

Easter 5 Wednesday

John 14:4-5

“And you know where I go, and you also know the way. Thomas says to him: Lord, we do not know where you go. And how can we know the way?”


Christ says that you know where I go and the way there, because you believe in me; because you have done miracles in my name. You should now be certain who I am and what my business is and for what purpose I have come. You have also heard and seen the Father testify to me, Matthew 17:5. This is why you now know well that the Father will glorify me, and you also believe that I am one with the Father. This is why it is not necessary for me to speak about this further. But there was nothing yet with the dear apostles, although they had been instructed by the Lord himself and had seen his miracles, although they had themselves preached the gospel and done miracles. Still, nothing had come of it. They did not know here what he was talking about and what kind of way it was, and where the Lord would go to. This is why Thomas comes right out and confesses publicly that he does not know anything about it. And here you hear and see that, although faith was in the apostles, they did not yet perceive that Christ had to be crucified and that his kingdom would take its beginning through Christ’s death, namely, that it should be a spiritual kingdom. Similarly, even after the resurrection of the Lord they said, Acts 1:6: “Lord, will you reestablish the kingdom of Israel at this time?” The good folks were still under the delusion that Christ’s should be a bodily, worldly kingdom. There are many such rough sections in the gospel where the apostles at times were grossly offended and fooled. But all this is written for our comfort and strengthening: We should not right away despair when we at times lack faith and cannot right away put up with God’s work and Word. If the great people who were to be the future pillars of Christendom came up short, no one can be surprised when things do not work out for us. No need to be afraid here. It is God’s work and cause; he can make it better whenever it pleases him. … With the faith of the apostles here it is like with Abraham’s faith. Although he had received his son in faith, he did not yet know that the son was to be sacrificed. Accordingly, faith does not reveal itself when the son was given him. So it is also here with the apostles: Although their faith was present, they lacked the testing of their faith. But nothing tests faith better than the cross and persecution. If Abraham did not have to sacrifice his son, he would not have known that he had faith. Since the apostles here were about to undergo persecution, they saw what their faith was like. While we are not afflicted, our faith is strong; but as soon as some affliction comes along, we soon realize what our faith is like. … God tests our heart by cross and persecution, namely, that we are crucified according to our old Adam. But to be crucified means that faith is tested, and once faith has been tested the flesh is killed and the Spirit increases in the knowledge of Christ. But this is what it means to kill the flesh when we let God’s will rule in us; when his will pleases us whether it is sweet or sour, completely renouncing our own will. This is what St. Paul means when he says in Romans 12:1-2: “I exhort you, dear brothers, by the mercy of God that you offer your bodies as a sacrifice that is living, holy, and God-pleasing, which is your reasonable worship. And do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may test that which is the good, the pleasing, and the perfect will of God.”


St. Louis ed., 11:2207-2210.

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