THE WEEK OF TRINITY XVIII – WEDNESDAY

LESSON: GALATIANS 2:15‒16

It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13

How many are there who really understand the commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”? Few, indeed, and there are fewer still who actually keep and observe this commandment. How are they to keep what they do not know? We are blind, and our nature is also completely blinded. Human reason hardly knows less about anything than it knows about what God wants in His Law.

Christ confers a benefit upon the Pharisees and lawyers in two respects. First, He removes their blindness and teaches them what the Law is. Secondly, He teaches them how impossible it is for them to fulfill the commandments. He removes their blindness and teaches them what the Law is by showing them that the Law is basically love.

Reason cannot understand this today, even as the Jews also failed in this respect. For if reason had been able to grasp this, then, to be sure, the Pharisees and the lawyers would have grasped it, for they were the best and cleverest men among the Jews of that time. They thought that the fulfillment of the Law depended solely upon the performance of the external works of the Law, whether they were performed willingly or unwillingly. They never really faced up to their inner blindness, greed, and wicked hardness of heart. They imagined themselves to be fully conversant with all the requirements of the Law and regarded themselves as very fine fellows, holy and godly. As Jesus says, “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23). No one can fulfill the Law unless he has been completely renewed.

SL.XI.1693,19‒20

PRAYER: O God, our transgressions of Your holy Law are many and grievous. Eternal praise and thanks be to You for the obedience our Savior rendered to Your Law on our behalf and in our stead, an obedience now reckoned to us for His sake and in His name. 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, 5:169-183.