Home > Gesimatide, Hymns > Crawl to the Cross. Septuagesima Sermon (Matt. 20:1-16), Jan. 27, 2013

Crawl to the Cross. Septuagesima Sermon (Matt. 20:1-16), Jan. 27, 2013

wanatah crucifix 3Septuagesima

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 20:1-16

January 27, 2013

“Crawl to the Cross”


Jesu juva!

Dear Congregation:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The law makes sin known

And strikes down the conscience.

Then the Gospel comes to help

Revives the sinner, and says,

“Just crawl to the cross

The law gives no rest or quiet

No matter how many works you do.”

That’s a more literal and less poetic version of one of the stanzas of the hymn for this Sunday, “Salvation unto us has come.”  That hymn was in the very first hymnal published for use in the churches of the Gospel in 1524.

On the face of it, it is kind of dry as far as the words go.  Later German hymnwriters taught sound doctrine while at the same time managing to write poetry.  “Salvation unto us has come” sounds like someone took the Augsburg Confession or the Catechism and put it in rhyme and meter.  On the face of it, it isn’t a heartwarming hymn.  Not even in German, when you compare it to the hymns of Paul Gerhardt, who wrote “Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me”, or Philip Nicolai, who wrote “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”.

But it was not written by a theologian in a university, by a nitpicker who wanted to make sure people in the pews weren’t making theological mistakes.  It was written by a man named Paul Speratus in 1523, a year before its publication.  He was in prison.  He was waiting to be burned at the stake as a heretic.  The year before he had been excommunicated because he preached a sermon in which he rejected his vows to be a monk, saying that those vows were against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Deutsch: Paul Speratus

Deutsch: Paul Speratus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Condemned to burn to death in earthly fire, and condemned to burn forever in hell’s eternal fire by the pope, who claimed to be the head of the church by Christ’s will, Speratus wrote a hymn that teaches the difference between faith and good works.  Waiting for death, he writes a dogmatic hymn about the justification of the sinner before God through faith in Christ alone.  The justification of sinners through faith in Christ alone apart from works was not just dogma.

It is[God’s] salvation that has come to us

Out of His grace and great kindness

Works can never help,

They cannot protect us.

Faith only pays attention to Jesus Christ

Who has made satisfaction for us all

He has become the mediator.

It was not just dogma, this right distinction between faith and works.  For Speratus it was the very salvation of God that had come to him out of God’s great goodness and mercy alone.  That’s why he wrote a hymn explaining it in plain prose as he waited to be burned at the stake.

Learning doctrine is not a work you have to perform.  Pure doctrine is not something the Lutheran Church emphasizes because it is legalistic or old-fashioned.  It is because the pure doctrine Jesus entrusted to the disciples, the pure doctrine taught by the Holy Spirit, gives us the righteousness that will stand before God.  It gives us certainty and a peaceful conscience.  It makes a new heart in us that loves our neighbor and begins to do the will of God.  It makes us able to face hatred, mockery, persecution with a peaceful conscience that does not respond in hatred toward our persecutors.  It makes us stand when the devil sifts us and threatens us with hell, tempting us to find relief from His accusations in our works instead of Christ’s work.

When doctrine is not kept pure, these things are lost.  People become uncertain of their salvation.  Or they become self-satisfied, self-righteous, and secure, like the workers hired at the beginning of the day in Jesus’ parable.  That is why it is no small thing when false doctrine is taught or tolerated in the church, or when those who speak or proclaim the Word of God wrongly apply it and do not properly distinguish the law of God and the Gospel of God, faith in Christ and good works.  Tolerance of false doctrine does not hallow God’s Holy Name, but blasphemes it.  It also robs people of the certainty of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  It prevents good works (even though it usually claims to promote them).

False doctrine is like dandelions, crabgrass, or creeping Charlie.  I’ve never heard of anyone planting dandelions or crabgrass.  I never planted them in my yard and yet every year they threaten to take it over.

That is the way false doctrine is.  It doesn’t take work for false doctrine to appear.  It grows naturally and vigorously in the soil of human hearts.  Human hearts by nature are “good soil” for false doctrine.  Why?  Because they are naturally self-righteous.  They are naturally completely corrupt, full of lies and hatred of God.  Your heart and mine.

That’s why the disciples were so slow to learn what Jesus taught and so quick to believe a different gospel about Jesus, which led to them abandoning Him when He was crucified.  That’s why the Church so quickly began to tolerate and embrace false teaching.  Within a few centuries after the Apostles the Church was permitting or encouraging prayer to the mother of God and the saints as mediators, teaching that by taking monastic vows we become more pleasing to God.

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Jesus is warning the disciples about this—about putting confidence in our flesh and its works instead of relying on grace.

+++The first will be last

++Ch. 19—Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Disciples: Who can be saved?  Jesus: With man this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.

+Peter: We left everything to follow you.  What will we get?  Jesus: You will sit on 12 thrones…and everyone who forsakes family, home, etc. for me will receive a hundred times more and eternal life.  But many who are first will be last and the last first.

+After this parable, Jesus explains that He is going to Jerusalem and will be mocked, flogged, and crucified.

+Then James and John want to sit at his right hand.  Jesus: whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first will be your slave.  For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

+The parable says, Do not think your labor or good works or suffering earns you anything; don’t put your trust in those.

++We owe God perfect obedience

+1st article

+Our idleness

+We don’t want to work, love, or suffer unless we get something out of it

++To enter into the kingdom of heaven is to enter work, like laborers in vineyard; the greatest in the kingdom is the biggest slave

+The burden of the day

-Hearing and confessing the word

-Pastoring family

-Bearing with the weak in the church

-Helping those in need (not only monetarily).

-Speaking the truth in love (in kingdom of the world as well as the church) (abortion, homosexual marriage, freedom of religion)

+The scorching heat

– We can’t do much for others because we’ve spent so many years selfishly

-Disciplining the flesh (Lent, 1 Cor)

-What sins should we confess (catechism) (Here consider your station in life according to the ten commandments)

-Persecution and suffering…that’s what comes as a result of speaking the truth in love.  Not gratitude or honor, but being cast out, rejected, despised.

+Those who compare themselves to others will fall.

-This is what we feel like doing: see how much I’ve suffered!  See how much harder I’ve tried than these others!  And no one stood with me!

-Then if they get the same reward we are angry.  This is covetousness.

-Eph. 5:5 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

-To be in the kingdom working is grace.  It was earned for us by Jesus’ suffering.

– Looking at the law, comparing yourself to others, you add sin to sin.

– grumblers cast out.


Theme: Crawl to the cross.  Jesus has made satisfaction for your sins there.  He has done enough (genug tun).


+++The last will be first.

++We cannot keep the law or find rest there.


It was not possible for our corrupt nature

To free itself by its own power.

The more it tried,

The more sin increased.

God damns this hypocritical work

The shame of the sin in our flesh

Clings to every one of our works.

++The Triune God is always working for our good.

+Jesus became man and bore all the burden and heat; He labored for our salvation and accomplished it.

+God the Father keeps giving us daily bread and preserving our lives, and now His heart is turned toward us.  He is reconciled.

+The Holy Spirit testifies and consoles us in the Gospel that Jesus has satisfied the Father’s wrath against our ungodliness.

++Through the forgiveness of sins earned by Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us new hearts that desire to keep the law.

+Why we don’t want to labor and suffer out of love—original sin

+The Holy Spirit renews our hearts.  We begin to desire to love and suffer for our neighbor’s good and the honor of Christ.

+But that is not why we are righteous.

+The Holy Spirit urges, Crawl to the cross!

+Faith looks only to Jesus; only pays attention to Jesus.

-And since it [the Law] is now fulfilled through Him

Who was able to keep it

Thus now a Christian learns

The right order and pattern.

No more then [do I rely on my works], dear Lord of mine

Your death has become my life.

You have paid for me.

++He has made satisfaction for our sins and turned away the Father’s wrath.

+He is not idle and lazy.  His heart is full of love toward me.

+He treats us as brothers and wants to treat us as if we had done all the work that HE did

+He went to the lowest place, became the servant of all.

+He left bliss to suffer hell for our sakes; He did this because He loved you.

+Now the Father loves you in Him

-Not because of your renewal, but because of His suffering

-Crawl to the cross with your helplessness in sin.

++ He gives us to drink of the wine of the vineyard while we are still laboring.

+His blood in the Sacrament of the Altar, which cleanses us of sin

+Infuses His life into us

+The blood that beat in His heart which was and is so full of love for sinners.


The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria.





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