by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

An Easy Yoke (2 of 6)
Series: Symbols of Discipleship
Stephen Whitney
Matthew 11:28-30

Martin Luther became a monk believing he could find peace with God for his troubled soul. In 1510 he was chosen to along with another older monk to go to Rome. They left in November from Nuremberg, Germany to walk about 850 miles though mountain passes and the cold winds.

It was early January when they arrived and Luther threw himself on the ground when he first saw the Holy City. He was in Rome to comfort his troubled soul and to carry back with him the blessings it offered to devout pilgrims. Here were seventy monasteries and dozens of churches with their countless relics offering escape from the terrors of purgatory.

Luther visited church after church, saying masses as in them when ever he could. On his hands and knees he climbed the 28 steps Jesus was supposed to have used when he was taken before Pilate. He saw - or thought he saw - many relics: a crucifix that had once spoken, the chain that had held Paul, the grave of the Samaritan woman, the rope used to drag Jesus to the cross, eleven thorns from Jesus’ crown, a nail from the cross, blood and water from His side and some hair from the Virgin Mary.

The more Luther saw and heard, the more uncomfortable he began to feel. Did the relics really release people from the terrible pains of purgatory? Why did some of the priests smile when they saw that he believed in the power of the relics? Why, after climbing the 28 steps of Pilate and saying an Our Father for his dead grandfather on each step, did he think as he reached the last step, “Who knows if whether this is true?”

Even though he had tried to do everything he could so God would be pleased with him, he was still troubled in his soul by his sin. Once when asked if he loved God, Luther replied, “No I hate him” because he could not find any relief from the guilt of his sin. The more he did and the harder he tried he just became more convinced he could ...

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