From the Word
45 But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
John 8:45–47, RSV
This gospel teaches how persons become more hardened and furious, the more one teaches them, and lovingly urges them to do their duty. Christ asks them here in a very loving way for a reason why they still disbelieve, since they can find fault neither with his life, nor with his teaching. His life is blameless; for he challenges them with the words, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” His teaching is also blameless; for he adds, “If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” Thus Christ lives as he teaches.
Every preacher should prove that he possesses, first, a blameless life, by which he can defy his enemies and no one may have occasion to slander his teachings; secondly, that he possesses the pure doctrine, so that he may not mislead those who follow him. Thus he will be right and firm on both sides; with his good life against his enemies, who look much more at his life than at his doctrine, and despise the doctrine for the sake of the life; with his doctrine among his friends, who have much more respect for his doctrine than for the kind of life he leads, and will bear with his life for the sake of his teaching.
It is indeed true that no one lives so perfect a life as to be without sin before God. Therefore it is sufficient that we be blameless in the eyes of the people. But his doctrine must be so good and pure as to stand, not only before man, but also before God. Therefore every pious pastor may well ask, Who among you can find fault with my life? Among you, I say, who are men, but before God I am a sinner. Thus Moses boasts that he took nothing from the people and did them no injustice. Thus Samuel, Jeremiah, and Hezekiah rightly boasted of their blameless life before the people to stop the mouths of blasphemers. But Christ does not thus speak of his doctrine, but says, “If I tell you the truth.” For one must be assured that his doctrine is right before God and that it is the truth, and accordingly care not how it is judged by the people. The Jews have no ground for their unbelief; therefore Christ pronounces judgment upon them.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 87–88.
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