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A Mystery
Scripture and a reading from Luther's sermons and devotional writings

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

Luke 8:9–10, RSV

From Luther

A “mystery” is a hidden secret that is not known; and the “mysteries of the kingdom of God” are the things in the kingdom of God, as for example Christ with all his grace, which he manifests to us. He who knows Christ aright understands what God’s kingdom is and what is in it. It is called a mystery because it is spiritual and secret, and it remains so where the spirit does not reveal it. For although there are many who see and hear it, yet they do not understand it. There are many who preach and hear Christ, how he offered himself for us; but all that is only upon their tongue and not in their heart; for they themselves do not believe it; they do not experience it.

Therefore Christ says: “Unto you it is given;” the Spirit gives it to you that you not only hear and see it, but acknowledge and hear it with your heart. It is no longer a mystery to you. But others, who hear it as well as you and have no faith in their heart, see and understand it not. To them it is a mystery and will continue to be unknown to them, and all that they hear is only like one hearing a parable or a dark saying. Christ therefore spake to the people in parables, that they might understand each according to his ability. He spake to them in parables because they did not understand. The parables served to interest and get a hold on coarse and rough people. Although they do not understand them, yet later they may be taught and learn to know. Parables are naturally pleasing to the common people, and they easily remember them, since they are taken from common, everyday affairs, in the midst of which the people live.

But these parables are of the nature that no one can understand them, they may grasp and hear them as often as they will, unless the Spirit makes them known and reveals them. Not that they shall preach that we shall not understand them, but it naturally follows that whenever the Spirit does not reveal them, no one understands them. God conceals and reveals to whom he will and whom he had in mind from eternity.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 51–52.

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