This is the first part of any anniversary celebration: looking back. But because we believe that the one holy Church will continue forever, we would be remiss if we didn’t also take the opportunity at the end of this anniversary year to look forward. The best way to look forward at a moment like this is with a spirit of thankfulness.
For earlier theologians like Luther, Chemnitz, and Gerhardt, revelation was synonymous with Christ held forth by Scripture.
While the wisdom of God cannot be comprehended in the slaying of the Holy Innocents, what remains is the Child who lived, died, and rose for all in order that the promise of the Resurrection would belong to these Holy Martyrs and all who have been baptized into His name.
At first glance, Dürer’s Virgin and Child With Half a Pear may simply look like a lovely Renaissance mother holding her baby, but so much more is being visualized as the artist gives flesh, blood, and bone to the Son of God.
From 1531 to 1535 Luther delivered many of these sermons, what are known as his Hauspostille (house postils). These were written for fathers to use as devotional material in their households, as well as for pastors to use for aid in sermon preparation. Just as Luther expected the head of the household to teach the Catechism to his children, so he desired them to have devotions with them, a practice that Luther was eager to do himself.
If justification is the article upon which the Church stands or falls, the incarnation, that God became man in the person of Jesus, is foundational. For our justification to be accomplished, He must be both God and man. He must be a man to suffer and die. He must be God for His death to count as payment for all the sins of all people.
In the face of tragedy and disaster, what do we do as theologians of the cross? We comprehend “the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.” What does that mean? We look at the cross of Jesus to understand God.
Baptism is surely a testament to the simplicity of God’s grace! The God who is beyond comprehension, whose depth of wisdom we cannot search, and whose paths are beyond tracing out nevertheless bestows upon us the benefits of Christ crucified through such simple means as water and Word.
Although Luther was in hiding during this period, it did not mean that he entirely stopped his scholarly and reforming activity. Indeed, the Reformer busied himself with a number of important matters.
The Reformation was at its core “missional”. Had it been anything less, we would know nothing about it today. If Martin Luther had kept his rediscovery of the Gospel to himself, then history would have taken an entirely different course.