Johann von Staupitz was Martin Luther’s vicar at Wittenberg. The young Luther, in deep agony over his abject sinfulness before an infinitely holy God, constantly came to Staupitz, his Father-Confessor, seeking absolution for his sins, both real and perceived. Luther reckoned his debt to Staupitz thus: “If it had not been for Dr. Staupitz, I should have sunk in hell.”
On this 499th anniversary, it seems fitting to remember God’s provision of a Mentor to Martin Luther, and hence, a Mentor to the Reformation. Johann von Staupitz wisely and faithfully steered his charge through a sea of doubts and fears to a glorious landing on the shores of gospel assurance, with words such as these:
Why do you torment yourself with all these speculations and these high thoughts of your works before God? Look at the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood that he has shed for you: it is there that the grace of God will appear to you . . . Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself in your Redeemer’s arms. Trust in him—in the righteousness and merits of his life—in the atonement of his death. Do not shrink back; God is not angry with you, it is you who are angry with God . . . Listen to the Son of God, not your own thoughts; meditate on His Word to you. Jesus became man to give you the assurance of divine favor. He says to you: You are my sheep; you hear my voice; no man shall pluck you out of my strong hand.” ~ John Staupitz to Martin Luther, ca.1509 (quoted from my pastor’s Reformation commemoration letter)
Lord willing, may we Reading Mothers be found Mentors, speaking words of gospel truth—the highest goodness and beauty—into the lives the next generation of reformers.