Here’s an excerpt from The Road to Worms: The Diet of Worms in Historical Context, Stephen Nichols' contribution to the April issue of Tabletalk:
In the spring of 1521, Martin Luther and a few colleagues and a few students boarded a wagon and set out for Worms, a three-hundred-plus-mile journey from Wittenberg. Along the way, they stopped at Erfurt. As Luther’s carriage approached, a greeting party of forty horsemen trotted out to give the Reformer a hero’s welcome. City residents lined the streets, straddled walls, and perched on window ledges to catch a glimpse of Martin Luther. On April 7, 1521, he ascended the pulpit to preach to an overflow crowd that had spilled out onto the streets.
John 20:19–20 served as the text:
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
This text prompted Luther to ask perhaps the most significant question one could ask: How do we have peace with God? Luther personally felt the gravity of this question. Throughout his life, he felt no such peace with God. Instead, he felt terror, sheer fear. Oh, how this question troubled Luther. Peace with God means forgiveness. It means salvation. It means eternal life. Luther longed to hear these words from God directly to him: “Peace be with you.”
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