From the Word
1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1, RSV
We learn from our text what the gospel is, and what is its message. It is the coming of light, the rising of divine glory. It speaks only of divine glory, divine honor and fame. It exalts only the work of God—his goodness and grace toward us. It teaches the necessity of our receiving God’s work for us, his grace and goodness, even God himself, if we would secure salvation. The gospel produces in us a twofold effect. First, it rejects our natural reason, our human light. Had we within ourselves light instead of darkness, it would not be necessary for God to send the light to rise upon us. This text forcibly expels and severely condemns all natural wisdom, all human reason; these are absolute darkness, therefore it is necessary for the light to come. So we should guard against all human doctrines and the conceits of reason as darkness, rejected and condemned of God; we should awake and arise to behold this light, and follow it alone.
The gospel casts down all the glory and pride of our own works. We cannot draw comfort nor derive honor from them. If there were in us anything worthy of honor and glory, the divine honor and glory would rise in us to no purpose. Men may, it is true, have their own nature and their self-righteousness, and from these derive temporal honor, praise and glory before their fellows as though they were no sinners. But before God they are sinful, destitute of glory and unable to boast of possessing him and his blessings.
No one can be saved unless he have within himself the glory of God and be able to comfort himself solely with God and his blessings and to glory in these. So the gospel condemns all our efforts and exalts only the goodness and the grace of God, and therefore God himself. It permits us to console ourselves only with him and to glory in no other.
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 14–15.
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