Only recently have I been exposed to the sermons of Martin Luther, though I am well aware of his importance in church history. Hendrickson Publishers follows up their successful “Sermons for Advent and Christmas Day” with this fine book of sermons that picks up on the calendar exactly where the first volume ended. In three texts, we look at the Sunday after Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Epiphany. The only downside is that there is one less sermon in this book than the earlier one. The style and quality, however, remain the same.
The first sermon that is for the Sunday after Christmas is from Luke 2:33-40. In the first section of the sermon, Luther considers Simeon. Clearly, Luther is impressed with Simeon’s spiritual reaction. In the sermon, he next moves to the significance of the blessing that Simeon gave in the passage. Next, he looks at Anna, and probes her words for the same spiritual insights. Finally, he takes time with the return of Mary and Joseph to Nazareth, coupled with the little we know about the childhood of Christ. This sermon runs through page 40. It seems to me as if it would’ve been three sermons for most of us who preach today. I can’t fathom either Luther’s time for preparation or delivery for this sermon!
The second sermon is much shorter and only on one verse, Luke 2:21. With this text, he discusses the circumcision of Jesus. He approaches circumcision from its Old Testament origins, to what it meant in Jesus’ day, and to the significance of how we should consider it today. In the second part of the sermon, he focuses on the naming of Jesus, which took place at the circumcision. I can’t recall ever seeing a sermon on this text alone, so it was particularly interesting.
The final sermon is on the visit of the Magi and takes Matthew 2:1-12 as its text. He begins this sermon by recalling the history of this story and drawing out its lessons. Under the second head, he examines Herod’s attitude. At times, he travels widely in Scripture even developing a section on Moses discussing knowledge. He also highlights the prophecy of Micah. The next two sections discuss the faith of the Wise Men that is quite beautiful in this passage. The fifth section covers the spiritual significance of the passage. There’s a final section on the true and false worship of God that could easily be its own sermon.
Luther’s sermons contain many points. For example, the last sermon has 344 points! That is handy for the reader, though, as you can bail on a point that you feel is irrelevant and jump onto the next one. No one would be wise to preach a sermon today just like Luther did here, but we can all learn from what he says. This is an attractive volume that is well worth adding to your library!
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