Luther on Bearing the Gospel

Luther preached the words below as part of a sermon addressed to the Elector Saxony and his party; just before their departure for the Diet of Augsburg in 1530.  Emperor Charles V had summoned the evangelicals to give account of the faith that was in them.

“When one receives the faith, one does not allow oneself to imagine that there will be difficulty in this…It appears to one as a tiny child, pretty and well – formed and easy to carry.  For the Gospel shows itself at first as a fine, pleasing friendly, and childlike doctrine, as we then saw at the start, when everyone seized upon it and wanted to be evangelical.  There was such longing and thirst for the Gospel that no oven’s heat could match that of the people then.  But what happened?  The same situation occurred that befell Christopher, who did not learn how heavy the little child was until he had entered the deepest water.”

Luther’s reference to Christopher refers to a legend in which Christopher carries the Christ child with joy and ease at first.  However, as he forded deeper waters assailed by temptations to sin and demons all around the Child becomes heavier and heavier to bear, threatening to drag him down.

Hieronymous Bosch, a Dutch painter, painted the best known depiction of “St. Christopher Carrying Christ across the Water.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, never remove the weight of your presence from our lives. Let us lean upon you in times of weakness and trial, and bring us safely through them.

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