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In Our Place

February 11, 2019
By Martin Luther

Thou wilt let Him be forsaken of God for a little while.

PSALM 8:5 (according to Luther's translation)

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In Our Place

St. Paul speaks of it in this way in Philippians 2:6-7: Jesus Christ, "though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant." He says that Christ emptied Himself of the divine form; that is, He did not use His divine might nor let His almighty power be seen, but withdrew it when He suffered. In this emptying and humiliation the devil tried all his hellish might. The Man and Son of Man stands there and bears the sins of the world (John 1:29), and because He does not give the appearance of having divine consolation and power, the devil set his teeth over the innocent Lamb and wanted to devour It. Thus the righteous and innocent Man must shiver and shake like a poor condemned sinner and feel God's wrath and judgment against sin in His tender, innocent heart, taste eternal death and damnation for us—in short, He must suffer everything that a condemned sinner has deserved and must suffer eternally.

This is what David talks about here, as though he wanted to say: "Sin and death are conquered, the enemy is destroyed, the kingdom of heaven is won. It happened in this way, that the Lord, our Ruler, true Man and Son of Man, travailed with body and soul in His tender humanity. He underwent such need and anguish that He sweat blood and felt nothing so much as that He was forsaken of God. In His soul He had to quench and extinguish the temptation of being forsaken by God, the devil's flaming darts (Ephesians 6:16), hellish fire, anguish, and everything that we had deserved by our sins." By this the kingdom of heaven, eternal life, and salvation were secured for us, as Isaiah also says (53:11): "He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied." His body and soul, he says, travail in deep and difficult suffering. But He does this for our great benefit and for His own great joy. For He conquers His enemies and triumphs, and by His knowledge He makes many righteous.

But the best part is that the prophet adds to this: "Thou hast let Him be forsaken of God for a little while." The forsaking is not to be for long, much less forever, but only a little time, namely, only for several hours and not always or over and over.

From Commentary on Psalm 8 (Luther's Works 12:127)

February 11