Martin Luther And A Life Changing Moment

Written by Dr. John L. Lund

Most of us are caught up in the hustle-bustle of daily living and rightly so. We are anxiously engaged in the daily pursuit of health, wealth, and happiness. During our sojourn there are moments when quite unexpectedly we are confronted with a life changing event. The experience will change the choices we make for the rest of our lives. The life-changing experience could be as simple as a poignant moment derived from watching a movie, reading a novel, perusing the Holy Scriptures or listening to an inspired speaker that jolts us into an introspective search for the meaning of our lives. It may be the awareness of a life threatening personal illness or the sudden passing away of a dear one. It may be as dramatic as a near death experience thrust upon us by a natural disaster such as a tornado, an earthquake or even a bolt of lightning.

Such an event happened to Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer. After receiving his master’s degree at the age of twenty-two, he was bound for law school. This was to please his father. However on the 2nd of July 1505, Martin Luther had a life-changing experience. He was riding his horse towards the Law University when a bolt of lightning nearly took his life. In an instant Martin returned home and reported to his father that he was terrified of death and the final judgment. In proclaiming that he was not prepared to meet God, Martin cried out, “Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk.”

Martin Luther entered a monastery and devoted himself totally to a quest to discover what it was that God wanted from him in order that he might return and abide with God in eternity. Martin Luther focused on a comprehensive study of the Bible. From dawn until dusk Martin immersed himself in a determined quest to understand the life and message of Jesus as found in the New Testament. Martin poured over every word of the Old Testament looking for insight and what it was that God wanted from Martin Luther. Eventually he received a Doctor of Theology degree and was called to teach at the University of Wittenberg. Appropriately his title was “Doctor in Bible.” Students flocked to his classes from all over Europe. Martin Luther was unmatched as a Bible scholar. He would spend the rest of his career at Wittenberg deeply immersed in teaching the scriptures.

In Martin Luther’s day the wooden doors of the Church served as a bulletin board. If someone wanted to debate an issue they would write down on paper the premises they wanted to present and attach them to the door of the main church in town. Others would take up the challenge and a public debate would follow. The gap between what Martin Luther had read in the Bible and some of the corrupt practices existing in the Roman Church led Martin Luther to another life changing experience.

After considerable prayer and fasting Martin Luther wrote his now famous “95 Theses” and posted them on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. It was October 31, 1517. This was the eve of “all Saints Day” when Christians honored all saints known and unknown. Today “Hallowed Eve or All Hallows Eve” has become a secular celebration called Halloween. Devoted Catholics, however, still go to a special Hallowed Eve Mass.

The much respected Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” quickly spread across northern Europe and developed into the Protestant Reformation. It was Martin Luther’s life changing experience that led him to develop a passion for the Bible. This motivated him to translate the Bible into German or the common language of the people. Formerly it was only the priests and the very wealthy that were permitted or could read the Latin Bible. Martin Luther’s German translation paved the way for the King James Version of the Bible in English. In one way or another, a “bolt of lightning” has touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Was it a random act of nature or was it the hand of God that July 2, 1505, that changed the life of Martin Luther? For some Martin Luther is regarded as a heretic and for others he was a hero. It all began with a life changing moment.