Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Most Difficult Word in Scripture

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther; written down by Veit Dietrich at Luther's table in the fall of 1531:
I wonder whether Peter, Paul, Moses, and all the saints fully and thoroughly understood a single word of God so that they had nothing more to learn from it, for the understanding of God is beyond measure. To be sure, the saints understood the Word of God and could also speak about it, but their practice did not keep pace with it. Here one forever remains a learner. The scholastics illustrated this with a ball which only at one point touches the table on which it rests, although the whole weight of the ball is supported by the table.

Though I am a great doctor, I haven’t yet progressed beyond the instruction of children in the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. I still learn and pray these every day with my Hans and my little Lena. Who understands in all of its ramifications even the opening words, ‘Our Father who art in heaven’? For if I understood these words in faith—that the God who holds heaven and earth in his hand is my Father—I would conclude that therefore I am lord of heaven and earth, therefore Christ is my brother, therefore all things are mine, Gabriel is my servant, Raphael is my coachman, and all the other angels are ministering spirits sent forth by my Father in heaven to serve me in all my necessities, lest I strike my foot against a stone. In order that this faith should not remain untested, my Father comes along and allows me to be thrown into prison or to be drowned in water. Then it will finally become apparent how well we understand these words. Our faith wavers. Our weakness gives rise to the question, ’Who knows if it is true?’ So this one word ‘your’ or ‘our’ is the most difficult of all in the whole Scripture. It’s like the word ‘your’ in the first commandment, ‘I am the Lord your God’ [Exod. 20:2].
Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's Works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:III-10). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

photo credit: moria

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