In April 1521, Martin Luther stood before the Emperor and refused to recant his teachings. On his way back to Wittenberg, Luther was kidnapped by friends who wanted to keep him safe. He was hidden in the castle Wartburg. There, Luther was able to write and translate the Scriptures. Meanwhile, in Wittenberg, other teachers stirred up the people. Revolution was in the air. The Reformation was swerving away from the Word which had taken Luther’s heart captive. Wittenberg was swerving toward violence.
Luther could not stay away. He came out of hiding and mounted the pulpit in Wittenberg. On March 9, known as Invocavit Sunday, Luther began to preach each day for eight days. John W. Doberstein, who translated and edited these sermons, describes them: “This remarkable series of sermons, which are powerful, inspired preaching of the gospel, had the effect of restoring tranquility and order almost at once” (LW vol. 51, pp. 69f.).
We find these sermons hold their power and inspiration. They apply as easily to events of today as they did five hundred years ago. Luther is ever encouraging us to entrust the coming of God’s kingdom to the work of the Word. As Luther would later inscribe in the Small Catechism, “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”
These devotions will walk you through extensive selections from the eight 1522 sermons from Wittenberg. Each weekday of Lent will complement a sermon selection from Luther with a Bible text and a prayer written by a contemporary pastor. Each Saturday, that same pastor will write a contemporary devotion tying Luther’s preaching to our own lives today.