A man by the name of Kasper Storm, arrived in Martin Luther’s hometown of Wittenberg, Germany on March 26, 1521. He was sent by Emperor Charles V to give Luther safe conduct to the upcoming Imperial Diet (meeting) in the city of Worms, Germany.
Everywhere they stopped on their way to Worms it was clear that Luther enjoyed tremendous support across Germany. Since the posting of the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, the date considered the start of the Reformation, Luther had been quite busy. He wrote and published many well-known treatises, preached several times a week and taught at the University of Wittenberg.
When they got to Worms the bookstores were crammed with his writings. Crowds lined the streets to get a glimpse of him.
I always joke, “Lutherans don’t have a pope but we have Martin Luther who is more famous and has been written about more than all the popes put together.”
Aleander, the papal representative in Worms, wrote to the pope: “Nine tenths of the people are shouting ‘Luther’ and the other tenth shouts ‘Down with Rome!’”
Many people warned Luther not to go to Worms. They did not trust the emperor or the pope not to attack Luther as they had promised. Luther replied, “Even though there should be as many devils in Worms as shingles on the roofs, I would have leaped into their midst with joy.”
At his first hearing before the imperial court Luther appeared to be overwhelmed by all the pomp and pageantry of the imperial court. Despite his fame, he was still just a simple monk from a small town in Germany.
A table with 25 of his books was set up in the room. Luther was asked two questions.
Are these your books?
Do you recant or take back what you have written?
Luther’s lawyer insisted that the titles of the books be read. After the titles were read Luther acknowledged that the books were his. Then in answer to the second question, “Do you recant?” Luther first pointed out that many of the books dealt with ordinary subjects about which there was no controversy.
As for the rest of the books about the controversial topics, he asked for more time to think about his answer. He was granted one day to think over his response.
Sunday, April 18, 2021 will be the 500th anniversary of Luther’s appearance at the Diet of Worms. In my next post I will share more about this dramatic time on the history of The Lutheran Church.
For more information about this celebration visit lcms.org/here-i-stand-sunday.