The above symbol is the logo that The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has chosen to use as it celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year. The date of October 31, 1517 is acknowledged by many to be the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. That’s the day when Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five theses against indulgences on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
As you can see, the theme stated with the logo is “Reformation 2017: It’s Still All About Jesus.”
What does the logo mean? On a website that the Synod has put together (lutheranreforemation.org), the following explanation is given. “This logo takes many elements from Luther’s seal, which is the most easily recognized symbol for Lutheranism. (Note: We will talk more about Luther’s seal and the meaning of its parts another time.) It was common in Luther’s day for people to create a seal or coat of arms for their families, and that seal told the world what the family cared about or did for a living. It’s no surprise then that Luther’s seal was all about Jesus! At the center of Luther’s seal, and at the center of the Reformation 2017 logo, is a red heart in the middle of a white rose. (The heart and rose together are commonly referred to as Luther’s rose.)….At the center of that rose is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus is the center and Rock of our faith. He has been since He came to Earth in the flesh, and He still is today. The word “still” bears witness to the ever and ongoing relevance of this one saving truth for sinners.”
This anniversary is not just about remembering Luther and the tremendously significant work that God used him to do to bring reformation and restore the message of the Gospel to the church. It is also about remembering Jesus Christ as the only source of comfort and peace, hope and joy for us as sinners in this earthly life and for eternity. He alone has made forgiveness possible for all people with His death on the cross as the final and perfect sacrifice that our loving heavenly Father required to deal with our sin once and for all.
Through faith alone in Jesus Christ as Savior, and not because of any good works that we’ve done or tried to do, we receive as free gifts that forgiveness and all of the other benefits of Jesus Christ’s work. That also includes His ongoing care for and presence with us as well as His triumphant victory over death with His resurrection from the dead on Easter day.
Martin Luther died on February 18th of 1546 in the town where he was born—Eisleben, Germany. He was 62 years old. While we do not worship Luther, we are thankful to God for him and the work that our gracious Lord Jesus used Him to do to restore the comforting message of how God saves us--by grace alone received through faith alone in Jesus Christ. That is true not because we as Lutherans have decided it, but because that’s what God clearly teaches in His word. That word alone (not the words of Luther or anyone else) is the basis for what we believe, teach and confess.
As we move into the Lenten season, we focus on remembering our own sin and that like Luther, we too will die someday. “…for you are dust and to dust you will return”. (Genesis 3:19b) As we do so, we can be thankful that that when it comes to the practical reality of needing relief from a guilty conscience and comfort as we think about our own death or that of someone else, it’s still all about Jesus.
I pray that you and I will continue to repentantly trust in Jesus Christ alone for the real, relevant, and lasting comfort that only He can give. Amen!
Pastor Jon Rathjen
John 14:6, ESV: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
Romans 3:21-24, ESV: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
And drives away our fear.
Text: John Newton, Public domain
P.S. Please watch the newsletter and bulletin for more information and events connected with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Revelation 2:10, ESV : Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Acts 4:12, ESV: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
John 10:27–28, ESV: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Download Full Copy: Labors of Love February - March 2017