Romans 9:1-12 NKJV
9 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”
It’s truly amazing how the mind of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther worked when reading God’s Holy Scripture. The depth of his thinking. The focus of every little verse. Today’s reading is not the easiest to understand. Sometimes texts can go in one ear and out the other; sometimes they can cause the eyelids to grow heavy, but these happen only because we remain in sinful flesh that fights against God and His Holy Word through every hour awake.
Reading Luther, however, reveals a new, refreshing depth of understanding that can bring one to yearn for more. For example, when St. Paul was inspired to write in verse 2 “that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart” here’s what Luther says:
“From this text it is very clear that love is found not only in sweetness and delight, but also in the greatest sorrow and bitterness. Indeed it rejoices and delights in bitterness and sorrow, because it regards the misery and sufferings of others as if they were its’ own. Thus Christ even in the final and worst hour of His suffering was aglow with His deepest love, indeed… it filled Him with the greatest joy to suffer the greatest pain. For thus it is that “God is wonderful in His saints: (Ps. 68:35), so that He causes them, at every time they are suffering the greatest pains, also to experience the greatest joys.” (AE 25, p. 379)
Only God could bring a man’s mind to think in such a way! Thanks be to God for working through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther in bringing our eyes to settle on Christ and His gracious merits for us for the forgiveness of our sins — even in the midst of our trials. As the remainder of this text reveals, it doesn’t matter who thinks they are privileged (born first or of a certain blood-line), its of no advantage without faith in Christ!
Let us pray: We give thanks to You, Almighty God, for Your gracious election, apart from any merit or worthiness on our part. Continue to feed with the truth of Your Word and Sacraments. Amen.