From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
As a Christian and saint upon earth, you may pray for me, not only for one, but for many needs. I am not obliged to adore and pray to you because you do, nor celebrate festivals, fast, make oblations, hold masses for your honor, and put my faith in you for my salvation. I can honor, love, and thank you in Christ in other ways. If such idolatrous honor were withdrawn from angels and departed saints, the remaining honor would cause no harm and be quickly forgotten. When spiritual and physical reward and assistance are no longer expected, the saints will not be troubled, either in their graves or in heaven. For not many will remember, or esteem, or honor them out of pure love unless there is a reward.
Pulling It Together: Jesus’ disciples had just seen him walking on the sea, did not recognize him, and were terrified. Yet the people of Gennesaret “immediately recognized him” and were overjoyed at his presence. As though his disciples were not even present, the people hurried to bring their sick to Jesus. Why? Because they knew that wherever Jesus went, he would heal their sick. Jesus loves to heal people with faith in him, for such faith makes them well (Mark 5:34; Luke 17:19).
Like the townspeople, we are expected to bring out the sick and present them before Jesus (James 5:14–16). We may confidently pray to the Lord for one another, since his Word urges us to do so. However, Scripture does not have us pray to saints or expect anything from them. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Pray to him.
Prayer: Give me faith to believe, Lord God, that you hear my prayers—and answer. Amen.
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Disciples of the Cross is a two-part Bible study addressing the topic of Christian discipleship from a uniquely Lutheran perspective. Part 1, Who We Are, is an introduction to the theology of discipleship, laying the biblical groundwork for what it means to be called to live the life of faith as a follower of Jesus. Part 2, What We Do, is an introduction to the practice of discipleship, using the Lord's Prayer to take us through key aspects of our life of faith as followers of Jesus.
The study may be used in conjunction with various discipleship programs and studies to highlight themes from the Lutheran tradition that are not often addressed in many discipleship materials. These include: a Theology of the Cross, the centrality of the Word and Sacrament, an understanding of the Means of Grace, and a recognition of the Christian as both "Saint and Sinner."