January 15, 2021

Luther on the Significance of the Resurrection

Posted by Chaplain Mike.

“It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25)

Luther comments on this text and what it says about Christ’s victory over sin and how it affects the believer.

This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.”

Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy.

Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. “0 God; where is now my Christ and my Saviour?” But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all.

What has now become of sin? There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm. As I am a child of Adam, they can indeed accomplish it that I must die. But since Christ has taken my sins upon himself, has died for them, has suffered himself to be slain on account of my sins, they can no longer harm me; for Christ is too strong for them, they cannot keep him, he breaks forth and overpowers them, ascends into heaven, and rules there over all throughout eternity. Now I have a clear conscience, am joyful and happy and am no longer afraid of this tyrant, for Christ has taken my sins away from me and made them his own. But they cannot remain upon him; what then becomes of them? They must disappear and be destroyed.

This then is the effect of faith. He who believes that Christ has taken away our sin, is without sin, like Christ himself, and death, the devil and hell are vanquished as far as he is concerned and they can no longer harm him.

Source: “A Sermon on Christ’s Resurrection” (Mark 16:1-8)
From Luther’s Church Postils, mid-1520’s

Read the whole sermon here.


  1. Amen and Amen. Thank you for this reminder of the power of the risen Christ Jesus for us, and indeed for the whole world. Luther’s words and the scriptures are like a breath of fresh air.

    I just returned from one of the weirdest and most misplaced Resurrection Sunday services ever, focused almost completely on death and its permanence (darkened auditorium, coffin at the front, sign on the door saying a funeral was in progress — no kidding). Key verse was Ecclesiastes 7:2. Huh? It would have been overly dramatic and gimmicky even for a Good Friday service. On Easter Sunday it was just wrong. There was talk of the resurrection eventually, but only via Paul and other scriptures. The story of the empty tomb, the garden, the women? Completely missing. Lord have mercy.

    So thank you for this word from Luther.

  2. John, that IS the weirdest sounding Resurrection Sunday services I can imagine!

  3. John, We must adopt Paul’s emphasis that we pursue Christ often. For if we don’t, I fear we will be captured by sin.

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