Commemoration of Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor
February 18, 2011
The Lord be with you
On the Church Calendar, at least in Lutheran denominations, today is recognized as the Commemoration of Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor. This day has been selected because Luther died February 18, 1546, and the day a saint is “born” into heaven is typically the day selected to commemorate them.
Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Germany. Initially he began studying to become a lawyer, as his father desired. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505, and received a doctorate in theology in 1512. As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, Luther’s scriptural studies led him to question may of the Church’s teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures, and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises. He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ’s sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. Luther died while visiting the town of his birth.
There are many devotional books that provide daily readings from Martin Luther. To be honest, the quality of these books varies. One which I have recently become acquainted with is titled: Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings. The editor is Barbara Owen and it is published by Augsburg. So far, Barbara seems to have made some excellent choices. In honor of the day, I thought I’d include one of her daily readings from Luther.
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
[It is as if God were saying:] This is where I want you to be. You ask that I deliver you. Then do not be uneasy about it, do not teach Me, and do not teach yourself; surrender yourself to Me. I am competent to be your Master. I will lead you in a way that is pleasing to Me. You think it wrong if things do not go as you feel they should. But your thinking harms you and hinders Me. Things must go, not according to your understanding but above your understanding. Submerge yourself in a lack of understanding, and I will give you My understanding. Lack of understanding is real understanding; not knowing where you are going is really knowing where you are going. My understanding makes you without understanding.
Thus Abraham went out from his homeland and did not know where he was going. He yielded to My knowledge and abandoned his own knowledge. By the right way he reached the right goal.
Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it, but I must lead you like- a blind person. Therefore not you, not a human being, not a creature, but I, through My Spirit and the Word, will teach you the way you must go. You must not follow the work which you choose, not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choice, thoughts, and desires. There I call; there you must be a pupil; there it is the time; there your Master has come: there you must not be a horse or an irrational animal. If you follow Me and forsake yourself, behold, then "I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
Commentary on "The Seven Penitential Psalms" (1525)
Luther’s Works 14, 152
Blessings in Christ,