Martin Luther was born in 1483 in Eisleben, Germany. His father, Hans, a copper miner, had high hopes for young Martin and sent him away to school at the age of 13. Hans wanted Martin, his eldest son, to become a lawyer and Martin entered the University of Erfurt to satisfy his father.
He was about 21 years old and returning home from the university, when he was caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Lightning struck near him and he was afraid for his life. He feared he would be damned forever, were he to die. In terror, he called out to St. Anne, patron saint of miners and vowed to become a monk if he survived the ordeal.
To his father’s great disappointment, Martin entered a monastery shortly after that fateful day. He lived in constant torment, feeling that God could never pardon a guilty sinner like himself. Like most people of his day, Martin believed that if he tortured his body, he could earn a portion of God’s forgiveness. He fasted, spent much time in prayer, scourged himself with whips and confessed his sins frequently to his priest confessor. But none of this relieved his sense of condemnation and guilt.
His superior, Johann von Staupitz, concerned about Martin’s gloomy outlook and self-inflicted punishments, sent Martin to study theology at the University of Wittenberg. He became a priest in 1507, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies in 1509 and in 1512, he earned the degree, Doctor of Theology.
It was during his studies at the University of Wittenberg that Martin discovered the real God of the Bible – a God of mercy who was worthy of his love and worship. It was through his study of the Word of God that Martin Luther came to love God.
So it was that the Reformation had its beginning in the heart of a man. And so it must be again, in our day.