There are a number of important Martin Luther sites in Germany besides Wittenberg. (I’ll devote a few posts later to some things that are significant to me about my time in Wittenberg.) I’m writing in the order of what is in my head and right now I want to share my favorite historical happening at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Here I am with the boys right after the tiring hike up.
After the famous Diet of Worms (where Luther was condemned as a heretic and enemy of the state), he fled north toward Wittenberg (fyi- Worms is the name of a German town, a “diet” was a meeting of church/govt. legislators). En route Luther was captured by horsemen and taken to the Wartburg Castle where he stayed for ten months. At the castle he discovered that those behind his capture were actually on his side and sought to get him to safety before others did him harm. They actually saved his life as the Edict of Worms declared him an outlaw and anyone killing him at that point would not have been tried for murder. He referred to his time at Wartburg his exile or wilderness period. He grew his hair and beard (as a monk he only had the ring of hair) so he’d be unrecognizable and adopted the name “Junker Jörg.” He was unrecognizable even to friends.
At Wartburg he was restless, lonely, and in his words tormented “by many devils.” He struggled there with severe depression and had an extended digestive infirmity (due to the rich food they fed him, far different from a monks simple diet). He lamented of his struggle with insomnia during this period and how for eight days he wrote nothing, read nothing and prayed nothing. Dreadful noises in his chamber at night would awaken him from sleep. Howling as of a dog could be heard at his door. As the spiritual warfare intensified, he felt abandoned by God. Even so, his time at Wartburg proved to be one of the most productive periods of his life. In these ten months, in the very room I’ve pictured below, he translated the New Testament into German and wrote 14 other important works.
I found it fascinating during the tour to learn that centuries earlier a regional Count Ludwig der Springer climbed the peak of this hill on a hunt and, impressed by the beauty of the spot, cried out “Wait mountain you shall be my castle.” In German “wait mountain” is “wart’ burg”. Interesting to me that God brought Luther here to the wilderness of Wait Mountain. These days I feel a bit as if God has me on my own wait mountain.
His “study” in Wartburg is a place I’ve long wanted to see with my own eyes. Here’s why… in this room, while he was translating the New Testament into the language of the German people, a demon manifest and he threw his inkwell at the harassing spirit leaving a large ink-stain on the wall (visible for centuries). You’ll notice today that treasure seekers throughout the centuries took knives to cut slivers (initially) and even entire sections of the ink-stained wood panels home as souvenirs. Here is a very difficult-to-find centuries old oil painting depicting that demonic encounter. There was a no-flash-rule so the pic is very difficult to see (we actually took this pic in Wittenberg at the Luther House). Thomas adjusted the brightness/contrast on photoshop which helps some.
I’ve been looking in the Luther gift shops hoping to find a copy of this print. No such luck. I really want one for my office. A flash of entrepenurial ingenuity did come over me in one of these gift shops and I have been talking about it for a few days with the family. My idea is to screenprint, sew, stuff and sell little inkwell-shaped bean bags. Hundreds of thousands of visitors tour these sites each year and every pastor I know needs a little bean bag inkwell on his desk to throw at his office wall. If they’d have sold these I would have bought ten. (If you are reading this, don’t steal my idea, I’m seriously thinking about producing these. They’d sell like hotcakes to pastors back in the states. Not sure quite how to go about it, but we are praying about additional streams of income for our work and this one really makes me smile. Maybe it’s just pastor humor.)
What they did have for sale in the gift shop is this frog-looking demon for €19.90 euros. Scroll back up and look really close in my picture from his study and you will see an old dark iron one hanging there just to the right of his desk (follow the line on the top of the picture above his desk to the top of the green stove, the iron demon is hanging about halfway). Nobody there could tell me why it looks like a frog but my friends in deliverance ministry may have a hunch (Rev. 16:13). Here’s the ”toy” version available in the gift shop. It would seem to me that whoever decided to put blue/white striped boxer shorts on this thing has never personally dealt with the manifestation of a harrassing demonic spirit.