Johann Baumgart (1514–1578) was a pastor who studied under Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg. This excerpt comes from his postil—a very popular early modern genre that began as a vernacular commentary on the one-year lectionary for simple, untrained or undertrained pastors. Eventually many postil writers intended the postils to be read as sermons, rather than as a resource to help write sermons.

In Luke 18:31-34, the disciples struggle to understand Jesus’ blunt words that he will be killed but will live. Baumgart capitalizes on this opportunity to remind his readers about the theology of the cross: because humans have turned the world and our own nature upside-down through our sin and rebellion, God turns things rightside-up through Jesus’ incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. Baumgart demands that we understand the world primarily through God’s revelation, not through our reason. By God’s Word and Spirit, the people of God put to death the worldly within them daily, and daily put on new life in Christ.

Therefore we should not become fixed like Lot’s wife or stay behind in the valley like Abraham’s donkey, becoming rooted in the earthly. Rather, our hearts and souls should be lifted up to the mountains of Israel, and our thoughts, desires, and senses should spring up in the heights to heaven. However, this is heavy and bitter for the old Adam, with his fear and lack of understanding, as we see here with the disciples. For the disciples could hardly understand how it would all happen, how the Son of God would be ridiculed, abused, crucified, and killed, and that through such suffering and humiliation, honor should be received, and that through his death, life would be given. Likewise our blind reason can hardly understand that it will also come to pass that those who are the children of God, his sons and daughters who are praised as “blessed,” endure the most abuse, ridicule, and crosses and must come through dishonor to honor, through suffering to glory, through death to life. Therefore, just as God announced his Son’s suffering through the holy Scripture, so he also warned us, his sons and daughters, that everyone who would live a blessed life must suffer persecution, must carry a cross, and must enter the kingdom of God through great affliction.

Luke, ed. Beth Kreitzer, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT Vol. III, p. 362-363.

A Five-Part Series on Victory over Suffering and Death

Martin Luther, Adam’s Sleep and the Awakening after Death (Genesis 2)

Menno Simons, No Greater Love (John 3)

Rudolph Gwalther, Stephen’s Death Teaches Us Faith in Cruel Times (Acts 7)

Jean Daillé, Some Received the Word with Joy but Soon Abandoned It (Philippians 1)