Why was the monk so concerned? First, it should be said that he was also a professor and did a great deal of study. He studied the Bible in a time when Scripture was often unavailable. And second, he grew concerned about what he saw because he read his Bible. Studying God's Word, it became clear to Luther that Pope Leo X had steered the Catholic Church far from the doctrines taught in the Bible. For example, ideas of salvation and grace were dependent upon the mercy of Pope Leo X rather than Jesus Christ and his resurrection. We see the error of this false teaching in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, which reads,
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
It should probably be said that at the university where Luther taught, it was actually a common practice to nail a thesis for discussion to the large door. This was a way to signal an intellectual discussion or academic debate. It is believed that Luther was not originally intending to fire such a bullet but instead start a conversation. However, the thesis launched much more conversation than Luther intended, possibly because the printing press had recently been invented and allowed a publisher to remove the thesis from the door, print it, and distribute it to a wider audience than the university. Regardless of the intention, The 95 Thesis launched a discussion that still lives today.
On this, the 495th anniversary of the 1st Reformation Day, take a moment to ask yourself, first, is Jesus Christ your mediator before God or are you depending upon another (or maybe some specific works)? Also ask yourself, are you studying God’s Word, reading the Bible like that German Monk who took a step of faith and changed the world?
Happy Reformation Day!
*The famous 1529 oil painting by Lucus Cranch der Altere is in the public domain.