Martin Luther was never shy about calling out what he believed to be the excesses, heresies, and depravity of his tempestuous era. In these sermons on Matthew 5–7, he interprets Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in light of the theological disputes of his day. Luther’s take on Jesus’ most famous sermon has become one of the most influential approaches in Christian history, emphasizing a strong dichotomy between the Gospel and the Law—a view heavily influenced by his sharp disagreements with the Catholic Church.
“These are the three things, it is commonly said, that mark a good preacher; first, that he take his place; secondly, that he open his mouth and say something; thirdly, that he know when to stop.” (Page 13)
“And just as the others go too much to the left in holding nothing at all of this teaching of Christ, but have condemned and obliterated it, so do these lean too much to the right, and teach that one should have nothing of his own, should not swear, should not act as ruler or judge, should not protect or defend, should forsake wife and child, and much of such miserable stuff.” (Page viii)
“But that is a pure heart, that is ever on the lookout for God’s word, and takes this in place of its own thoughts. For only that is pure before God, yes purity itself, through which everything that comes in contact with it and belongs to it is and is called pure.” (Page 61)
“For the Jews were firmly fixed in this belief: if it went well with a man, that was a proof that God was gracious to him; and the reverse.” (Page 21)
“Therefore only begin and be a Christian, and you will soon learn what mourning means. If you cannot do better, take a wife, and settle yourself, and make a living in faith, so that you love the word of God and do what belongs to your calling; then you will soon learn, both from neighbors and in your own house, that things will not go as you would like, and you will be everywhere hindered and hedged so that you will get enough to suffer and must see what will make you sad at heart. Especially however the dear preachers must learn this thoroughly, and be daily exercised with it, so that they must take to heart all manner of envy, hatred, scorn and ridicule, ingratitude, contempt besides, and revilement, so that they are inwardly pierced and uninterruptedly tormented.” (Pages 36–37)
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