To wrap up his writings about loneliness, worry and finding comfort in God, Luther leaves readers with a final message: the ultimate victory has already been won through Christ’s death and resurrection. Read the complete passage from Volume 24 of Luther’s Works and say a prayer of thanks to God for such a victory.
Words for Comfort
And what is the reason for all this? How does Christ make them so defiant? How does He fill their hearts with such comfort? He does so when He says: “The battle is already won. I have overcome the world.” “Indeed,” you declare, “it is easy for Thee to say that Thou hast overcome, just as it is easy for others—Peter and Paul, for example—to say this. But where am I?” Christ answers: “I certainly am not telling you this for My own benefit. Do you not hear? This is meant for you. You are to know that it was not for Myself that I overcame the world, and you are to take comfort from this knowledge. For I did not have to descend from heaven for My own sake, since I was Lord over all creatures before I did so, and the devil and the world surely had to let Me alone. But I did this for your sakes, and it is for your sakes that I am saying this. My words are meant for your comfort, consolation, and peace. Therefore take them to heart, and consider that I, Jesus Christ, have won the victory.”
Victory in Christ
Christ says that the victory has been won, that all peril and anxiety have vanished. It is no longer necessary for us to wrestle and fight. All this has already taken place. The world, the devil, and death have been defeated and lie prostrate. Heaven, righteousness, and life are victorious. All that remains for us to do is to spread this news throughout the world and to intone the ἐπινίκιον or song of victory and to sing joyfully “Christ is risen.” He has accomplished all this and has given complete victory to those who hear and believe this. But we must preach, confess, and speak highly of this news before the entire world; we must rely on it and say to anyone who wants to attack us: “What do you propose to do, tyrant, world, and devil? Are you robbing me of my property, my honor, my life? Then what? The victory has been won; yes, it has been won. For here is Christ, who lives and conquers. My dear sir, do not try to rob me of Him. Or if you can, try your power on Him once more, and see what happens.”
A Christian must accustom himself to think about Christ’s victory—the victory in which everything has already been accomplished and in which we have everything we should have. Henceforth we live only to spread among other people the news of what Christ has achieved. We must do so by exhorting them with words and with our example to give thought to the victory Christ has won for us and has given to us. For this Victor has accomplished everything. There is nothing for us to add to what He has done—neither the blotting out of sin nor victory over the devil and death. Everything has already been laid low. Henceforth our suffering and fighting are no real battle; they are only a prize or a part of the glory of this victory. For our suffering, yes, the suffering and the blood of all the martyrs and saints, would not gain the victory for us. It is impossible for us to defeat and trample underfoot sin, death, and hell by what we do … If I am to have comfort and peace, the battle must have been won beforehand, and the victory must be there. “I,” says Christ, “have already accomplished this. But accept it, and make use of My victory by singing about it, glorying in it, and making a show of it. Just be of good cheer.”
A Final Farewell
Behold, this is the friendly farewell, the comforting final word which Christ leaves with His followers and would like to impress on their hearts. The apostles did not understand it at this time; and although we do not yet understand it either, still by the grace of God we have seen that when matters became serious the Holy Spirit reminded the hearts of many of these words and thus gave them the strength to suffer everything and to die in reliance on Christ’s victory. May God help us too, and may He dispose us to cling to Christ’s victory in troubles and in death. Even though at present we are not able to grasp the meaning of these words fully and compellingly, yet may we think of them in the hour of need and say: “This is what my Lord and Savior put into my heart. In Him I have a Victor over the world, death, and the devil, no matter how small and weak I am. Amen.”
Adapted from Luther’s Works: American Edition. Volume 24. Copyright © 1961 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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