March 27, 2014
Martin Luther stands out as one of the most significant figures in western history. His efforts to confront the corruption of the church hierarchy of his day launched the Protestant Reformation and radically altered the political landscape of western civilization.
How, exactly, did Luther go about achieving such a remarkable outcome? Listen to his own explanation:
“I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip [Melanchthon] and my Amsdorf [Nicholaus von], the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.”
I realize the image of a great church leader sitting around drinking beer with his buddies might seem a bit jarring (just remember that Luther was a man of his times), but Luther’s analysis of the events of his day only confirms what Jesus had taught a millennia and a half earlier. The harvest comes not as a result of our careful calculations and strenuous effort. The harvest comes because of the word of God.
We are now roughly half way through the season of Lent, a season that began with us rubbing ashes on our forehead as a sign of the fact that we are mortal creatures. For all our high achievements in life, we will one day all be a pile of ashes. That’s why this season calls us to recognize our utter and complete dependence upon God. It is only by his grace that we are saved. Come to think of it, it is only by his grace that we even exist in the first place.
Luther was exactly right. The Word does it all. And that Word is Jesus.
Lord Jesus, you who are the Word made flesh, forgive me today of my arrogance. Forgive me for assuming that I am at the center of the action. You are the center of gravity. I am only the body in orbit that responds to your pull. May your word take root in my life today. And may that which takes root bear fruit in your time. By your holy name I pray, Amen.