Reformation Tour—Epilogue

Luther statue in Dresden

Yesterday we said our goodbyes to those who had become our neighbors on the cruise, and to each other.

The Wife and I and Ann had the earlier flights with different stopovers. Terri left later.

Breakfast at the hotel was rushed because of the time of our flight. It was the first time I had felt rushed in nearly two weeks.

While at breakfast I asked if anyone could remember if at any of the Luther exhibits or sites we had ever seen or heard explained the foundational truth of the Reformation—salvation by grace through faith.

None of us could recall one instance.

Luther’s insight in reading Romans 1:17 and understanding salvation as a gift from God that comes through faith— we had never seen it explained, noted, or discussed at any of the sites.

Instead the focus was on corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, Luther’s criticism of indulgences, and his translation of the Bible into German. Luther was a whistleblower and linguist but where was Luther the Reformer? Where was the most important Truth of the Reformation: How can we be reconciled to God?

Fortunately, one of the advantages of the way we do study tours (reading before and as we go) is that we bring our knowledge to the place we are visiting and are not entirely dependent on local tour guides. Of course we also proved that that knowledge does not necessarily mean we can escape an eight hour tour of Prague featuring “Goldmember” statues, lectures on the evils of capitalism, and stories about self-immolation in Wenceslas Square.

But the big takeaway for me came on Day 9, as I was reading Luke 18 and 19. In Luke 18 Jesus asked the rich man to sell all he had and follow Jesus. When he refused and turned away, Jesus noted how difficult it was for the rich men to enter the kingdom of God. In Luke 19, though, Zaccheus, the tax collector, offers to give half his possessions to the poor and make restitution to those whom he defrauded, and Jesus said salvation had come to his house. The rich man was required by Jesus to give up all he owned, Zaccheus only half and restitution.

Part of lordship is realizing Jesus gets to choose what He calls us to sacrifice. Wycliffe had to sacrifice his reputation and position in the church. Hus had to sacrifice his reputation and his life. Luther was called to risk his life before the Council at Worms and live in exile and hiding for two years. Bonhoeffer was required to be imprisoned for two years and then give his life. We are not all called to make the same sacrifice but we are all called to follow the same Savior. And the kingdom of God is all the better for Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, and Bonhoeffer having followed Jesus.

This has been a good tour.

We laughed, we learned, and we left all the better for it. GS