Besides being a brilliant Orthodox Lutheran exegete, domatician, and apologist, Johann Gerhard was also an expert in practical theology as well as devotional writing. In the following, note how touchingly Gerhard weaves in Christ’s active and passive righteousness for us, as well as the true and genuine comfort this gives to us as the Lord’s blood-bought saints. Note also how the true power and meaning of the Gospel is conveyed in the proper interpretation, based solely on Scripture, of how Christ was and is the satisfaction for our sins, and how His atonement has set us right with God. Enjoy!
“COME unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. xi. 28), are the precious words of our Saviour. Truly, my dear Lord Jesus, I am burdened beyond measure, and I groan under the awful weight of my sins; but I hasten to Thee, the fountain of living waters. Come unto me, O Lord Jesus, so that I may be able to come unto Thee. I am coming to Thee because Thou hast first come to me. I am coming to Thee, my dear Lord Jesus, and most ardently do I desire Thee, for I can find no good in myself at all. And if I could find anything good in me, I should not so anxiously long for Thee. Truly, O Lord Jesus, I “labor and am heavy laden.” I dare not compare myself to any of Thy saints, nor even to any repentant sinner, unless perchance to the penitent thief upon the cross. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, Thou who didst show Thyself so merciful to that penitent malefactor! Wretchedly, wretchedly, have I lived; my life hath been one of sin; but, oh! I do desire to die the death of the godly and of the righteous. But godliness and righteousness are far from my heart, and so in Thy godliness and in Thy righteousness I take refuge. Thou didst give Thy life, O Lord Jesus, as a ransom for many (Matt. xx. 28); let that come to my succor in my distress. Thy most holy body Thou didst give to be scourged, to be spit upon, to be buffeted, to be lacerated with thorns, and to be crucified, and all for me; O let that come to my help in my distress. Let Thy most precious blood, which Thou didst so freely shed in Thy bitter sufferings and cruel death upon the cross, and which cleanseth us from all sin (1 John i. 7), be my help. Let Thy most sacred divinity, which sustained Thy human nature in Thy passion, which refrained from the exercise of its glorious power while the adorable mystery of my redemption was being wrought out, and which gave infinite value and merit to Thy suffering for sin, so that God might ransom me –- me, a miserable sinner –- with His own blood (Acts xx. 28), come to my assistance in my distress. In Thy bleeding wounds is my only remedy; let them succor me. Let Thy most holy passion be my defence. Let Thy merit, my last refuge and the only remedy for my sins, be my comfort and my support. What Thou hast suffered, O Christ, Thou hast suffered for me. What Thy sufferings have merited, they have merited for me, and are set over against my unworthiness. God therefore “commendeth His love toward us,” and by the testimony of all men, yea, by its surpassing the comprehension even of the angels, confirms it, “in that while we were yet sinners and enemies Christ died for us” (Rom. v. 8). Who is there who does not wonder at this; who is not struck with deep amazement, that unasked by any one, nay even hated by men, the most merciful Son of God intercedes for sinners and for His enemies? And not only that, but renders a perfect satisfaction to divine justice for their sins, by His poor and humble birth, by His holy life, by His most bitter sufferings and cruel death.
Johann Gerhard, Meditation XI, The Satisfaction for Our Sins. Accessed November 11, 2017.