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Devotion for the Commemoration of Frederick the Wise, Christian Ruler

Frederick III, Martin Luther’s protector, is the subject of our devotion, which is taken from The Reformation Era: A Short History of the Reformation.

Devotional Reading

The sentence of the Diet [of Worms] was not passed until over a month later, when the princes supporting Luther had returned home. The assembly did the emperor’s bidding and declared him an outlaw to be arrested after 21 days and kept prisoner subject to the penalties of his excommunication and the pleasure of the emperor.

This imperial edict broke Luther’s last link with the past. The highest jurisdictions, both religious and secular, had cut him adrift. His future was in grave uncertainty until he realized that the highwaymen who rudely apprehended him as he was leaving Worms were the Elector Frederick’s servants and that he was in friendly hands. For the next year he was to be in the protective custody of Frederick the Wise at Wartburg Castle. The band of men who had kidnapped him were friends who laid hands on him to protect him from the dangers threatened by the imperial ban. . . .

When Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, took Luther into protective custody at Wartburg after the Diet of Worms, the Reformer found the time to begin his task of translating the Bible into the language of the people. He was not content merely to possess the Scriptures for himself. He believed that every man ought to know the Word of God from a personal knowledge and not merely at second hand from a priest or pastor. His aim in translation was, as he said, to make the Bible talk German to the German people. He wanted the language of the German Bible to be clear and plain so it would be readily understood by the common people.

Later Luther wrote short summaries of Christian doctrine based on the principal teachings of the Bible. His desire was to make it possible for every child to know God’s plan of salvation. The Small Catechism gave instruction, in the form of questions and answers, on the Ten Commandments, the Creed, prayer, the sacraments, and the Office of the Keys. This book is still in use by . . . [millions of] Lutherans all over the world.

Devotional reading is from The Reformation Era: A Short History of the Reformation, pages 35–37 © 1968 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


Heavenly Father, You provided wisdom and skill to Frederick the Wise as elector of Saxony during the early years of the Reformation, using his rule and authority to protect Martin Luther and preserve the preaching of the Gospel. Graciously regard all Your servants who make, administer, and judge the laws of this nation, and look with favor upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant them wisdom and understanding that they might provide sanctuary for Your Church to continue to proclaim the true faith; for You live and reign with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reflect on the Church Year

Prayer is from The Pastor at Prayer, page 250. This edition © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


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