Christ Becomes our Way in Baptism, the Word, and the Lord’s Supper

Easter 5 Friday

John 14:6

“Jesus says to him: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through me.”

 

Given that the Ten Commandments are not the way to the Father, you say: “Well, does this mean that the Ten Commandment are evil? It is wrong to lead a disciplined and honest life and to do the right thing? Is God not pleased with this – or is he more pleased if we live a decadent life and do no good?” No, indeed. We say that it is right, good, and God-pleasing to do God’s will and to be good. But this does not mean that such is the way to eternal life or to the Father. This is why the Ten Commandments are to be kept out of obedience, because God commanded them and because we cannot ignore such command without sin. But there is only one way to come to the Father. This way is not called good works or God’s commandment, but Christ Jesus. This one way is the true way and does not deceive us. It is the life that keeps us from death. Despite all good works and holy life, we otherwise would remain in death and could not get ourselves out of it. And this is why the Lord gives himself a new name and says: “I am the way.” For where no way or path leads, there you cannot go. Now, since no one cannot come to God outside of Christ or know God outside of Christ, he says: “I am the way to the Father.” He is not the kind of way we can walk on with our feet but with the heart: We are to trust and put all confidence in him. Those who do this are on the right way to the Father and to eternal life. It is impossible that they could go wrong. For they have Christ who is not only the way but also the truth – he cannot deceive or fail us – and the life. Therefore, if you have this way ahead of you, you need not be afraid of sin and of death resulting from sin. This is why one must here distinguish the question. It is one thing when I say: What should I do if I want to live as a Christian? It is another when I say: What shall I do if I want to go to the Father? The Ten Commandments pertain to the Christian life: They are the way. For there is God’s command that demands such obedience. But those who do not want to render this obedience must expect the punishment and damnation sanctioning disobedience. But such Ten Commandments are not the right way to the Father. For there it says what Christ says here: “I am the way.” Just as we are not to make many Christs, so we are not to make many ways. And if you make a way to the Father outside of Christ, it is a wrong way. … But we must make a distinction among the works lest we get into the enthusiasm of the Anabaptists and Sacramentarians. For it is not spoken incorrectly and does not take away from Christ’s honor when I say: “If you want to come to the Father and be saved, let yourself be baptized, as Peter tells the Jews in Acts 2:38.” Likewise, “If you want to be saved and come to the Father, listen to the Word of God.” Likewise, “If you want to come to the Father and be saved, go to the most worthy Lord’s Supper.” … Now, those who say: “Christ alone is the way; why do I need baptism, Word, or the Lord’s Supper?,” dishonor Christ: Not only because Christ commanded and instituted baptism, the Word, and the Lord’s Supper, but also because Christ himself is in baptism, Word, and Lord’s Supper. There he becomes our way. For he went to the Father, and we do not see him, as he said, John 16:16. Now, how are to walk on him or how is he our way? Only in that he lets himself be presented to us in baptism, Word, and Lord’s Supper as the one who died for us, shed his blood for us, and reconciled us to the Father. Those who would not accept such words and sacraments would miss Christ, the way, and not want to accept him. This is why such works in which Christ himself is present are different than the works we do.

 

St. Louis ed., 13.1:1136-1138.

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