Key Figures in the Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther (Part 5)

(1483-1546)

Martin Luther’s later years were spent in illness and feverish activity. In 1531, though sick for six months and suffering from exhaustion, he preached 180 sermons, wrote 15 tracts, worked on his translation of the Old Testament, and took a number of trips.

“From the beginning of my Reformation I have asked God to send me neither dreams, nor visions, nor angels, but to give me the right understanding of His Word, the Holy Scriptures; for as long as I have God’s Word, I know that I am walking in His ways and that I shall not fall into any error or delusion.”

In 1546 the great reformer finally wore out. Knowing the end was near, he wrote his last will and testament. It began with the words, “I am well known in heaven, on earth, and in hell,” a true statement of the result of his bold stance throughout his life.

In his last moments, Luther was asked by his friend Justus Jonas, “Do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught?” He answered emphatically, “Yes!” Luther’s last words were: “We are beggars. This is true.”

He died in Eisleben on February 18, 1546, within sight of where he was baptized as an infant. Luther’s body was carried to Wittenberg as thousands of mourners lined the street. Church bells tolled for the great reformer.

Luther was buried in the Castle Church of Wittenberg. This was the very church where, twenty-nine years earlier, he had nailed his Ninety-five Theses. His final resting place was immediately below the pulpit, where he had so often stood to preach the Word.

His wife, Katherine, wrote:

For who would not be sad and afflicted at the loss of such a precious man as my dear lord was. He did great things not just for a city or a single land, but for the whole world.”

The influence of Luther did reach around the globe. Luther’s legacy was immense and cannot be summarized in few words. Luther inspired EVERY Protestant reformer in one-way or another. Men like Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, and Cranmer owe a debt to Martin Luther. Lutherans, Reformed, Anglican, and Anabaptists were shaped by the legacy of Luther. On a larger scale, his reforms were instrumental in ending the middle ages and ushering in the modern era.

See You Sunday,

Pastor Byron