Today, on February 18, 1546, Martin Luther died. Luther was one of the burning embers behind the firestorm that was called the Reformation. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Luther and others. Over the years I have preached on Luther and the Reformation on Reformation Sunday and the following excerpts from that message gives a brief synopsis of Luther and the events leading up to the Reformation.
One day as Martin was on the road a great storm came upon him. The thunder was terrible and the lighting so close that Martin thought for sure God was going to kill him. He was afraid of the judgmental mean God who had no compassion. such as his earthly father exhibited In desperation Martin threw himself to the ground and cried out “Saint Anne, save me! If you save me I will enter a monastery and serve you my entire life. I will become a monk.”
True to his word, Luther entered the Augustinian monastery much to the disgust of his father. And in the monastery, Martin studied hard and worked feverishly trying to earn his way to God.
He earned several degrees and one day his spiritual father sent him to Rome in an attempt to give some fresh air to Luther. Rome was home of the Pope and home of the Catholic church. Pope Leo the 10th was the new pope and he wanted to reform Romanism and build a new church – St. Peter’s Basilica. But neither he nor Rome had money.
John Tetzel had a plan to remedy this, by selling indulgences, or buying your way into heaven. He would ride into a village set up his stage and perform. Dramatically encouraging people to buy their relatives out of purgatory so they wouldn’t suffer any longer. His quaint saying was “when a coin in the coffer rings a soul from purgatory springs!” The funds raised were going towards the building of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Luther penned the words of the 95 theses or propositions, arguments against the church and on October 31, 1517, Martin strode to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg and nailed them to the door and the spark was ignited for the Protestant Reformation.