JESUS CHRIST AS THE
RECONCILER AND REDEEMER
GOD's FEELING toward us sinners can be known in Christ. In him the heart of God is revealed. As the chapter on christology [Chapter 15] showed, Luther places decisive emphasis on this point. God makes his feeling known in the history of Jesus Christ. This history of Jesus Christ also has its own value as an event between God and humanity, and between God and the powers to whom his wrath has surrendered humanity. In accord with Christian tradition since the time of Paul, Luther understands the history of Jesus as the event of reconciliation and redemption. The wrath of God rests on sinful humanity. Through Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen, a new situation is created. Christ becomes our Lord in place of the powers of wrath. He is “a Lord of life, righteousness, and of all good and blessedness.” Through his work we become his own and are so ruled by him that he gives us a share in his life in “righteousness, innocence, and blessedness”— this is his lordship.1
All this is God's work in and through Christ. It is he who sends the Christ to do his work.2 But Christ acts in the name and in the power of God in such a way that he not only deals with humanity and the powers to which it has succumbed but also with God himself. He acts also in relationship to God; he “reconciles” God, or we may also say, he reconciles humanity with God.3 God in Christ deals also with himself, in himself, and in an inner trinitarian relationship.
1 Cf. the explanations of the Second Article in Luther's Small and Large
Catechisms. WA 3d, 295 f. and 185 ff.; BC, 345 and 413 ff.
2WA 17II, 293.
3WA 8, 519; LW 36, 177. WA 10III, 136. As these and other passages
show, Luther uses the expression interchangeably: God is reconciled; we are
reconciled with God the Father; we are reconciled with God.