THE WEEK OF TRINITY XI – TUESDAY

LESSON: 2 CORINTHIANS 4:13‒15

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” Luke 18:14

The tax collector’s faith certainly proves itself by its fruits. How do we explain Christ’s statement here that he “went down to his house justified rather than the other”? We have suggested that this tax collector was justified before the happenings recorded in this Gospel and before he beat upon his breast as here reported. What does Christ mean here, then, with the statement that “he went down to his house justified”?

This refers to something I have frequently stressed previously: if faith is as it should be, it will break out and produce fruit. If the tree is green and good, there is no coming to a standstill; it must sprout and produce fruit and leaves. Nature sees to this. I do not have to command the tree and say, “Listen to me, tree, produce apples!” If the tree is there and it is a good tree, fruit comes of its own accord. If true faith exists anywhere, works must follow.

If I confess myself to be a sinner, it follows that I must also say, “Dear God, I am a rogue; make me godly!” So also the tax collector here. He does not hold back, but speaks out quite freely. He is not afraid of disgracing himself before other people. He must come out with his faith, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” It is as though he meant to say, “Now I see that all is shattered for me; I am a rogue and acknowledge my sin. There is nothing else for me now but to believe in God and cling to His mercy, to implore His grace; otherwise I am ruined.”

In this way faith casts itself upon God. It breaks forth and establishes itself through works. When that happens in a man, I can recognize him as a believer and so can others.

SL 11:1488 (8‒9)

PRAYER: When You bring men to true faith, heavenly Father, You also empower them to prove their faith in their lives. Make our faith such a power in our lives that all men will know that we are Your children and glorify Your holy name, in and through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:336-347.