In the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 1546, Martin Luther closed his eyes forever. Before that happened, the hand that hammered the 95 Theses into the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517, penned its final words: “We are all beggars. This is true.” And this is the truth that our Lord says makes you free.
Ironic, isn’t it? In order to be free, you must be a beggar. You must be utterly dependent and reliant upon God. This makes us uncomfortable – the way we’re uncomfortable when someone gets us a Christmas present when we haven’t gotten them one. We feel we owe them. And we don’t like being in someone’s debt like that.
But what Luther would remind us is that we are all indeed beggars. And we’re not just anyone’s beggars. We’re God’s beggars. Christ came for sinners. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to heal the sick and raise the dead. He came for sinners, and He dwells only with sinners.
If we are to be where He is, we must be willing to be counted among the lost, the sick, and the dead. We must be willing to be beggars. We must cry out for mercy, for grace, and for his undeserved love and kindness. We must be dependent solely on Him and what He gives.
And here’s the beauty: He gives us everything. Everything. Forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and the devil, and eternal life. This isn’t because of any worthiness or merit in us. It is because of His divine goodness, mercy, and grace. On account of Christ’s death and resurrection, the Father forgives you, saves you, and is pleased with you. You receive His love, His righteousness, His holiness, His acceptance, and His inheritance. We are all beggars. This is true.
This is the heart and soul of Christianity and the lifeblood of the Christian Church. God justifies us and declares us innocent and righteous by His grace received through faith for the sake of Christ. This isn’t because of our works but because of His work on the cross. We, who once were enemies of God, are reconciled to Him and made to be His children.
This is what Luther pointed us to when He took up his pen for the last time and scribbled “We are all beggars. This is true.” We are beggars, but we are beggars of the God who does not ignore us and who doesn’t pass by us on the other side. We are beggars of the One who descended from heaven to make His dwelling with sinners.
We are beggars of Him who deigns to dwell with us, among us, and – yes – still in us by grace for Christ’s sake. For in the bread and cup that we bless we share together with Christ and each other the riches of God’s grace. The riches of this grace – the Gospel in sermon and absolution, in Baptism, and in Holy Communion – are so inexhaustible that our cups overflow. We, who are God’s beggars, are inexhaustibly satisfied, and we have something to give back in thanksgiving and praise.
– LCMS Stewardship Ministry: lcms.org/stewardship