A Laymen’s Commentary on the Large Catechism: Second Article

This is part 15 of 26 in the series A Layman's Commentary on the Large Catechism

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

(Psalm 2)

 

The Second Article.

Of Redemption.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

What does this mean?–Answer.

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

(Small Catechism)

 

We all believe in Jesus Christ,
His own Son, our Lord, possessing
An equal Godhead, throne, and might,
Source of ev’ry grace and blessing;
Born of Mary, virgin mother,
By the power of the Spirit,
Word made flesh, our elder brother;
That the lost might life inherit,
Was crucified for all our sin
And raised by God to life again.

(LSB 954)

 

Article II.

25] And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

26] Here we learn to know the Second Person of the Godhead, so that we see what we have from God over and above the temporal goods aforementioned; namely, how He has completely poured forth Himself and withheld nothing from us that He has not given us. Now, this article is very rich and broad; but in order to expound it also briefly and in a childlike way we shall take up one word and sum up in that the entire article, namely (as we have said), that we may here learn how we have been redeemed; and we shall base this on these words: In Jesus Christ, our Lord.

27] If now you are asked, What do you believe in the Second Article of Jesus Christ? answer briefly: I believe that Jesus Christ, true Son of God, has become my Lord. But what is it to become Lord? It is this, that He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and all evil. For before I had no Lord nor King, but was captive under the power of the devil, condemned to death, enmeshed in sin and blindness.

28] For when we had been created by God the Father, and had received from Him all manner of good, the devil came and led us into disobedience, sin, death, and all evil, so that we fell under His wrath and displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation, as we had merited and deserved. 29] There was no counsel, help, or comfort until this only and eternal Son of God in His unfathomable goodness had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness, and came from heaven to help us. 30] Those tyrants and jailers, then, are all expelled now, and in their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation, and has delivered us poor lost men from the jaws of hell, has won us, made us free, and brought us again into the favor and grace of the Father, and has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection, that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is also the Gift from the Father to us in Love, worth infinitely more than any temporal gift that God has ever given us.  To that end, Christ gives fully of Himself so that we may be saved (Matthew 26:26-29, 2 Corinthians 8:9)

Luther sums up this entire article by the words “In Jesus Christ, our Lord”.  For to have a Lord is to have someone to whom you owe allegiance and fealty. Jesus Christ became our Lord when He redeemed us (Ephesians 2:1-10).

But what do we need to be freed from?  Sin, Death, and Satan.  The three enemies unleashed on us at the Fall (Genesis 3).  Christ comes to save us from the results of that day (John 1:1-18).  Jesus the Son of God breaks us free from our bondage to sin and Satan.  He does this by perfectly fulfilling God’s Law so that we are free from the condemnation of the Law and can have eternal life (Romans 8:1-11).  Thus destroying the accusing of Satan, the judgment of sin, and the penalty of death.  By doing this Jesus becomes our Lord, not just in name but in truth (Psalm 61).

31] Let this, then, be the sum of this article that the little word Lord signifies simply as much as Redeemer, i.e., He who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same. But all the points which follow in order in this article serve no other end than to explain and express this redemption, how and whereby it was accomplished, that is, how much it cost Him, and what He spent and risked that He might win us and bring us under His dominion, namely, that He became man, conceived and born without [any stain of] sin, of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, that He might overcome sin; moreover, that He suffered, died and was buried, that He might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe, not with silver nor gold, but with His own precious blood. And all this, in order to become my Lord; for He did none of these for Himself, nor had He any need of it. And after that He rose again from the dead, swallowed up and devoured death, and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father’s right hand, so that the devil and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet, until finally, at the last day, He will completely part and separate us from the wicked world, the devil, death, sin, etc.

32] But to explain all these single points separately belongs not to brief sermons for children, but rather to the ampler sermons that extend throughout the entire year, especially at those times which are appointed for the purpose of treating at length of each article-of the birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension of Christ, etc.

33] Ay, the entire Gospel which we preach is based on this, that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rest, and which is so rich and comprehensive that we never can learn it fully.

Lord in this article means Redeemer. Jesus Christ has objectively redeemed all mankind by His death on the cross (objective justification).  Even more, Jesus Christ, Son of God, your Lord and Savior died FOR YOU (subjective justification).  The “FOR YOU” is crucial as it brings to you personally the comfort of this most blessed Gospel, that Jesus Christ is your Lord.  Thus it is right and proper (though often abused by enthusiasts) to say that Jesus of Nazareth is your personal Lord, for without a personal Lord you are not saved.

Everything else in this article essentially explains the act of redemption that Christ accomplished.  It establishes the historicity of Jesus Christ’s Birth, Death, and Resurrection (John 1:14, Hebrews 4:14-16, Luke 1:26-38, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Peter 1:13-25, 1 Peter 3:8-22, Hebrews 10:1-25, Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:47-50).  After the act of Creation, the act of Salvation is God’s greater second work (Revelation 5).  For as the whole Trinity is involved in Creation, so the whole Trinity is involved in our Redemption. With the Father sending the Son and the Holy Spirit delivering to us the gifts that Christ won on the cross.  However, the glory of our Redemption is mainly Christ’s who hung upon the cross to pay the price for our transgressions against His own Holy Law.

In fact, the entire Church year is centered around the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.  Advent is a time of preparation where we focus on Jesus Christ’s first and second comings.  Christmas is a 12-day celebration of the nativity of our Lord.  Epiphany is where we see Jesus Christ being made manifest to the world and showing who He is as God in man.  Lent is a time of penitence where we focus on the depth of our sin and the cost that the Son of God paid for us.  Holy Week is the Commemoration of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.  Easter is the celebration of the 40 days during which the Son of Man walked the Earth in His resurrected body. Pentecost/Trinity celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the establishing of the NT church, as promised by Jesus.  Thus Christ’s work is preached year round.  This allows preachers to preach and parishioners to learn more and more about Jesus and His work.  Additionally, the entire Divine Service also preaches Jesus Christ’s work of redemption, as a microcosm of His Life.

The entire Gospel hinges on who Jesus Christ is and what He has done.  This Justification is the article on which the church stands or falls.  As Luther states in the Smalcald Articles:

5] Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12. And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53:5. And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us. (Smalcald Articles Part II, Article I 5)

Everything in Scripture hinges on this as it is the Gospel.  If we lose this, we’ve lost everything.

Oh, love, how deep, how broad, how high,
Beyond all thought and fantasy,
That God, the Son of God, should take
Our mortal form for mortal’s sake!

He sent no angel to our race,
Of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame,
And to this world Himself He came.

For us baptized, for us He bore
His holy fast and hungered sore;
For us temptation sharp He knew;
For us the tempter over threw.

For us He prayed; for us He taught;
For us His daily works He wrought,
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not Himself but us.

For us by wickedness betrayed,
For us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
He bore the shameful cross and death;
For us He gave his dying breath.

For us He rose from death again;
For us He went on high to reign;
For us He sent His Spirit here
To guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.

(LSB 544)

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.