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Christ Defeated the Monsters (A Meditation from Luther)

The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain
(Duccio di Buoninsegna ca. 1308-1311,

tempera on poplar panel)

Let us see how Christ was able to gain the victory over our enemies.

The sins of the whole world,
            past,
            present,
            and future,
     fastened themselves upon Christ
     and condemned Him.
But because Christ is God
            He had an everlasting
            and unconquerable righteousness.

These two,
            the sin of the world
            and the righteousness of God,
                                    met in a death struggle.
                        Furiously the sin of the world assailed the righteousness of God.
                                    Righteousness is immortal and invincible.
                        On the other hand, sin is a mighty tyrant who subdues all men.
                                    This tyrant pounces on Christ.
                        But Christ's righteousness is unconquerable.
                                    The result is inevitable.
                                                Sin is defeated
                                                and righteousness triumphs and reigns forever.

In the same manner was death defeated.
            Death is emperor of the world.
                        He strikes down
                                    kings,
                                    princes,
                                    all men.
                        He has an idea to destroy all life.
            But Christ has immortal life,
                        and life immortal gained the victory over death.
                        Through Christ death has lost her sting.
                        Christ is the Death of death.

The curse of God waged a similar battle with the eternal mercy of God in Christ.
            The curse meant to condemn God's mercy.
                        But it could not do it because the mercy of God is everlasting.
                        The curse had to give way.
            If the mercy of God in Christ had lost out,
                        God Himself would have lost out,
                        which, of course, is impossible.

Therefore,
            Christ
                        the power of God,
                        righteousness,
                        blessing,
                        grace and life,
                                    overcometh
                                    and destroyeth these monsters,
                                                                        sin,
                                                                        death,
                                                                        and the curse,
                                    without war or weapons,
                                    in his own body
                                    and in himself.

'Christ," says Paul, "spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2:15.)
            They cannot harm those who hide in Christ.
                        Sin,
                        death,
                        the wrath of God,
                        hell,
                        the devil
                                    are mortified in Christ.

Where Christ is near the powers of evil must keep their distance.


--from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians 3:13, a composite from the Watson and Graebner translations, line breaks and formatting are my own. 

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