The Final Journey of Martin Luther: Examining His Last Days and Death
Hans and Margarethe Luther welcomed Martin Luther into the world on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Saxony. Luther, who was the oldest child in a big family, received a rigorous education and, at the age of 17, enrolled in the University of Erfurt.
Yet, Luther would have one of his most significant life experiences on July 2, 1505, when he became trapped in a violent rainstorm and came dangerously close to being hit by lightning. Even though his near-death experience led him on a spiritual journey the fact is death came knocking on 18th February 1546 and at the age of 62 he died of a stroke. Let’s take a look at the final journey of Martin Luther.
1. His last final journey before his death was in Eislebeen
Martin Luther travelled to his birthplace of Eisleben for the last time in 1546. While he was there his main agenda was to solve a conflict between two noble families that were attending the consecration of a new church.
While he was there his health significantly deteriorated and he started having chest pains and breathing problems when he was in Eislebeen. Even though he was struggling, he managed to keep on and delivered one last sermon before he went back to his place.
2. Luther’s health had been a concern for some time before his death
The years before Martin died were not easy for him, he had a number of health problems that affected his life. He suffered from kidney stones, rheumatism and severe stomach issues which left him in discomfort and in a lot of pain. Nevertheless, he always tried to persevere as he battled all the health complications he faced.
3. He delivered his last sermon on February 15, 1546
Martin Luther gave his final and most important sermon on February 15, 1546. It was known as the “Sermon on the Final Words of David,”. His sermon focused on God’s grace and how important it was for people to have faith in God. Luther made it clear that redemption does not come from human effort but would come from God’s unmerited grace. It was important to him that his followers understood the importance of God’s atonement and redemptive work.
4. Martin had a sudden onset of chest pains the night before he died
Martin Luther suddenly started having chest problems the evening before he passed away, which was a hint of how seriously his health was failing. It is suspected that he died from Angina pectoris which is a disorder that affects the flow of blood to the heart.
As soon as he realised that his days were shortened, he asked his close friends and coworkers to pray for him. During that time he was surrounded by his loved ones as they read the Psalms to him. This evening was the time when Luther spoke his last words, professing his reliance on God and giving his spirit into the care of the Almighty.
5. His last words are proof that he truly believed in God
Martin was a man who truly believed in God which is why his last words were “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” He was confident that his faith in God was represented in these words which is very similar to what Jesus said as He was on the cross, it was a sign of complete surrender. As he lay there dying, he didn’t try and ask to be given more time, it is clear that he was mostly interested in being in God’s presence.
6. Martin’s death happened during a period of intense religious and political turmoil
By the time Martin passed away, there was serious religious and political unrest mostly because the Catholic church and the Holy Roman Empire were hesitant about surprising the Protestant movement’s expanding influence. When he died, there was a lot of tension between the two factions which added to the racial and political strife of the time. Luther’s passing and his impact even after death showed that he had a significant influence on the developing religious landscape.
7. His body was embalmed to stop the natural decaying process
After Martin Luther passed away, his body was embalmed to stop the natural decaying process. At the time, embalming was a normal process that had to keep place to keep the bodies of prominent people safe.
Removing human fluids and organs, replacing them with preservatives like oils or spices, and giving external treatments was typically what they would do, this helped especially because his body had to be taken from Eisleben to Wittenberg which was his final resting place.
8. His dedicated followers were grieved and mourned deeply
Luther’s unwavering commitment to religious reform had an impact on many people, inspiring them to reject traditional knowledge and adopt his idea of religion. His passing, which marked the end of an era and left a vacancy, severely affected those who had looked to him as a mentor and leader.
The widespread expressions of grief and sadness, which demonstrated the enormous impact Luther had on his followers’ lives, helped to solidify Luther’s status as a pivotal figure in the evolution of religious thought.
9. He was laid to rest in the Castle Church in Wittenberg
Following his passing, Martin Luther was buried in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s final resting site was rich with meaning and symbolism. When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the inside of this specific church, the Protestant Reformation was officially launched.
Luther’s burial in the Castle Church reinforced the church’s historical significance and made it a popular gathering place for Reformation believers. The Castle Church still has Luther’s tomb as a major feature. He was left speechless after suffering an apoplectic stroke, and shortly after, at 2:45 a.m. on February 18, 1546, at Eisleben, where he was born, he passed away at the age of 62. He was laid to rest in front of the pulpit in Wittenberg’s Schlosskirche where his friends Johannes Bugenhagen and Philipp Melanchthon organized the funeral.