Do not make of Mary a stone.

Martin Luther

For my sermon the Sunday after Christmas, I am sharing with my congregation a portion of one of the most famous Christmas sermons ever preached, and with good reason. It is a sermon of Martin Luther’s, in which he reflects on the baby born of the virgin Mary, who is the Savior of the world. I love to read these beautiful, inspiring words, each year at this time, and I hope that you find them as meaningful as I do. Here are Luther’s words:

Mary laid God’s Son in a manger. Why not in a cradle, on a bench, or on the ground? Because they had no cradle, bench, table, nothing but a manger of the ox and sheep. That was the first throne of this king: a feeding trough.

There in a stable without any servants lay the Creator of the world. And there was the Virgin of fifteen years bringing forth her firstborn without water, fire or light, what a sad sight.

What Mary and Joseph did next, no one knows. But they must have marveled that this Child was the Son of God.

He was also a real human being. He was true baby, with flesh, blood, hands and legs. He slept, ate, and did everything else that babies do only without sin.

Think of what it was like for Mary! No warm water, no light, no helper. The cold manger was the bed and bathtub. Who showed this young teenager what to do, she who had never had a baby before?

Do not make of Mary a stone. It must have gone straight to her heart that she was so abandoned. She was flesh and blood, and must have felt miserable-and Joseph too-that she was left in this way, all alone, with no one to help, in a strange land.

Her eyes were moist even though she was happy, and aware that the baby was God’s Son and her savior and the savior of the whole world. Mary was not stone. The more people rest in God’s favor, the more tender they are.

Mary was not only holy. She was also the mother of the Lord. With trembling and reverence, before nestling him to herself, she laid him down, because her faith said to her, “He will be the Son of the Highest.” No one else on earth had this faith, not even Joseph, for although he had been informed by the angel the word did not go to his heart as to the heart of Mary, the mother.

Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity as we see it happening in babies around us. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather His flesh. Look upon the baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify us. Inexpressible majesty will crush us. That is why Christ took on our humanity, yet without sin, that He should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor He should console and confirm.

Look at the Child and forget all other thoughts. That all that is and has been and ever shall be belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in the child.

Doubt nothing. Watch him springing in the lap of the Virgin. Laugh with Him. Look upon this Lord of Peace and your spirit will be at peace.

See how God invites you in many ways, placing before you a babe with whom you may take refuge. You cannot fear God, for nothing is more appealing to us than a babe.

Are you frightened? Then come to Him, lying in the lap of the fairest sweetest maid. You will see how great is the divine goodness, which seeks love above all else that you should not despair.

Trust Him! Trust Him! Here is the Child in whom is salvation. To me there is no greater consolation given to humankind than this, that Christ became human, a child, a baby, playing in the lap of His most gracious mother.

Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? The power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt is overcome if you come to adore this gurgling Babe, and believe that He is come, not to judge you, but to save you.

And so, come. Inspired by these words of Luther’s, come to the manger, and behold this baby who is the Savior of the world; this baby who was born for you and for me, not to judge us, but to save us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

This sermon excerpt of Martin Luther’s can be found in “Martin Luther’s Christmas Book,” edited by Roland H. Bainton and available here: Martin Luther’s Christmas Book.

5 thoughts on “Martin Luther on the Meaning of Christmas

  1. Wonderful post. I am on vacation and slightly under the weather, attempting to read a biography of Martin and Katharina Luther (The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha. Happy Third Day of Christmas! Michele

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s