This sermon is not found in edition c. It is one of the sermons Luther preached at Borna, 1522, and was printed with two other sermons preached at the same place, and printed with miscellaneous sermons in 1522. See second sermon for Sunday after Easter, Lenker’s Luther, vol. p. 364.
German text: Erlangen Edition, 12:17; Walch Edition, 2:1083; St. Louis Walch 2:793.
OF TEACHERS, AUTHORITIES, AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST.
2. First of all we should observe that as Christ in this Gospel speaks of one shepherd, so there shall and must be only one shepherd; and as he speaks of one fold, so there shall and must be only one fold. Therefore, whoever advocates many shepherds and many folds does wrong. As Christ is, and calls himself a Shepherd, so should he who holds his office be and be called a shepherd. Just as Christ is a King, so are all his Christians kings; for all Christ is and has is ours, and we possess all too, if we believe in him.
6. This the hirelings do not; they care not for the sheep, they receive temporal wages, riches and honor, and feed themselves; yet they are good to a certain extent and Christ also preaches through them; but they are not true to the sheep. This may be seen in our shepherds today who almost entirely subvert their office. In times past the princes gave the bishops and priests great treasures, besides land and people, so that pious bishops did not want to accept the office, they even fled from it; but that is entirely changed at present and there is a running and racing after the best bishoprics. The greatest rush is for the offices, which afford the best livings. They all seek their own, not the things of Christ. Philippians 2:21. This is clearly seen, when trouble comes, when the wolvesbreak in there is no one who remains faithful to the sheep. Then that occurs of which Christ here speaks: “He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, be-holdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth, and the wolf snatcheth them, and scattereth them; he fleeth because he is a hireling and careth not for the sheep.” This is a lamentable and a miserablestate of things.
7. In the third place, there are the wolves, which also give the sheep some attention. Who are these wolves? It is plain that they are the tyrants, both ecclesiastical and secular, that can tolerate neither shepherd nor hireling.
The pope and the bishop, together with their officials, likewise the secular princes who cling to them, are now arising and taking captive, excommunicating, anathematizing, putting in the stocks, and on the block, garroting and murdering everywhere both shepherds and hirelings. These are the bold manifest wolves that may be recognized, that do not go about with cunning and flattery, against whom one may indeed still guard himself.
8. There are other wolves, however, who come to us in sheep’s clothing.
12. The spiritualpower they have vested in the pope; but how he has abused the same, thank God, almost everyone sees at present. He has subverted it and has by means of his clerical power become a secular authority. And what is the worst of all he uses his clerical power as a cloak of shame; he has brought it about to have himself placed over all secular government, he has become and is called its head, and that by no divine command, but contrary to the Word of God and the command of Christ, whose vicar he boasts himself to be.
13. In the Gospel we find an altogether different spiritualgovernment, one that exists alone in the Word, by which sinners are convicted and the Gospel proclaimed to the terrified and alarmed consciences. In Matthew 18:15-17, Christ speaks thus of that power: “And if thy brothersin against thee, go show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be to thee as the Gentile and as the publican.” Of this St. Paul also speaks to the Corinthians in his second Epistle, 2 Corinthians 13:10: “For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down.”
14. From this it follows, that when the bishops and their officials want to put one under the ban the transgression is published to the whole congregation, otherwise their ban would not be noticed, and the messenger would be shown the door. The secular government should see to it, whenever the clerical authority overreaches its sphere to the injury of the soul, that it be restrained, and bishops and their officials be not permitted to excommunicate from the church anyone without his knowledge and will, whenever it pleases them. This the congregation also should unanimously oppose.
15. It does not concern God very much as to how the secular government uses its power, for he is concerned only about the soul, and with this the secular authority has nothing to do. It has received power to rule over the body and over property. Whether we govern well or not does not determine our salvation. But it would be a matter of great concern, if the spiritualauthority were to say, Do this, and thou shalt be saved: do that not, and thou shalt be eternally lost. This is what the pope does. At certain times we must not eat eggs and meat and butter, but oil and fish; we are to do this and do that, believe this and believe that; and if it is not done he excommunicates, and issues one bull after another. Again, even if the secular authority should command: This thou must believe, and that thou must believe, and it should be contrary to the Gospel, you should refuse obedience and say with Peter in Acts 4:19 and Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.” This, however, must not be done with violence, nor so as to create a disturbance and an uproar of any kind.
17. This they cannot bear, and hence they wish to prove their power by the Scriptures and say: Does not Christ declare in Luke 10:16: “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth, you rejecteth me?” Hear, ye simple folks, they say, do you not see what Christ says of us? To this you should answer: Yes, dear bishop, beloved official, put on your spectacles, look at the text closely, and mark well what Christ said to his disciples before in verse 3: “Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves;” and a little further on in verse 9: “The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you;” and in Mark 16:15-16, he sends them and says: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” Concerning such as preach the Gospel the Lord also says: “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me.”
For whenever I hear the messenger of Christ, I hear Christ himself; but if I do not hear his messenger, I do not hear Christ.
18. Again, they say that Christ declares unto Peter in Matthew 16:19, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Very true, but that power they abuse most valiantly and shamefully; for they bind what they will, make laws, burden the conscience with whatever they dream and whatever they please; and never ask whether or not it would be a burden and an unbearable load to others. No, belovedbishop and official, this passage does not apply to the burdening of the conscience with laws; but to the correction of the erring and to the reproof of sinners. There is no authority of Christ, except the one that is helpful in making the people better.
19. Therefore whoever uses this power wickedly is not a messenger of Christ, but of the devil, a wolf, a disturber of the flocks of Christ. The true sheep understand this very well. Hence Christ says here in this Gospel: “I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me.”
21. What is it to know Christ, but to discern him as a gift and as an example? A gift given by God that is your own; so that when you see and hear him suffering or doing anything, you may not doubt that Christ himself in such suffering and works is yours; upon which you may depend as though you yourself had done them, and as though you yourself were Christ. Observe this is what it means to know Christ aright: that he, with all that he has, out of pure divinegoodness has been given unto us, that he has rendered satisfaction, obtained salvation and eternallife for us, and that all this is through him and for his sake, without our merit, bestowed upon us.
23. The pope, however, has changed this entirely; for he commands: Thou shalt do this, and thou shalt do that. If you would be saved, you must pray the rosary, fast, become a Carthusian, flee to St. James, to Rome, to Jerusalem, buy indulgences, build churches, endow masses and do innumerable other things; not one of which Christ ever commanded. And most terrible of all, when they have practiced such works for a time, that have neither benefited God nor the world, they will boast of them and say:
Finally Christ speaks as follows in this Gospel: “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd.
26. Let us conclude here, and call upon God to help us in these perilous times, while we are in the midst of wolves, that they may not lacerate and devour us and that we may remain in the knowledge of him and his Son, our LordJesusChrist. forever, Amen.