Duke George had demanded a reform of the church and a committee had listed 101 points where changes must be made. Emperor Charles had taken back is command to burn Luther’s works. Still the council members were not satisfied.
Luther’s enemies said that Luther must appear before the council, not to hear him explain himself but to retract his teachings. If he would not retract his teachings, all the council members would condemn him. This, they thought, would finally put an end to the trouble. Once the people understood that their rulers had judged Luther, they would be satisfied. Luther’s friends in the council said Luther must come to Worms to have a fair hearing. He should not be condemned without first being heard. Both sides agreed that Luther must come to Worms.
Next, they discussed whether or not Luther should be given a safe-conduct, an official document protecting him from harm on his journey. Aleander argued that it was wrong to hear a man who’d already been judged by the pope and that if they were going to do it anyway, Luther should definitely have no safe-conduct.
The council paid little attention to Aleander’s noise. The emperor himself, along with each of the princes through whose territories Luther would have to travel all signed Luther’s safe-conduct. Duke George, Elector of Saxony Frederick and the Landgrave of Hesse were the princes who signed.
On March 24, 1521, Luther received his summons to appear in Worms. A week later he started his journey to the imperial city. Along the way, he was asked to preach at many places. Near Erfurth a cavalcade of 40 horsemen met him and escorted him into the city, making way for him among the crowds of people who’d come out to see him.
On Sunday, the people crowded into the church to hear Luther preach. Although he believed he was going to Worms to be killed, Luther didn’t say a word about it, but only preached the Gospel, forgiveness and salvation. Suddenly, one of the balconies creaked loudly, threatening to break under the weight of listeners. Luther stopped preaching a moment, then told them that the devil wanted to stop him from preaching the Gospel but he wouldn’t succeed. Then he continued preaching.
When he got to Eisenach, Luther got sick. The usual first aid measure was applied: a knife was used to cut a vein and Luther was bled. After a good night’s sleep, he resumed his journey.
After two weeks, Luther arrived in Worms. Two thousand people marched with him. He went to his hotel for the evening. At four o’clock the next afternoon the imperial herald arrived to escort him to the council meeting hall. So many people crowded the streets that Luther could not move forward. The herald commanded some citizens to open their houses so that he and Luther could go through their houses and cross their gardens and continue to the meeting.
When they arrived at the town-hall, the herald tried to press through the crowd to get Luther inside, but no one moved. Soldiers were brought to clear a passage for Luther to go through. Inside the building, more than 5000 people had crowded and Luther was brought to the door of the hall with difficulty.
Luther was brought into the meeting hall where all the princes of the kingdom were waiting for him – 204 of them. Luther was emotionally moved. Several of the princes went to him. One quoted Matthew 10:28, “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Another quoted Matthew 10:18 and 20, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”