A Christian sermon over the body and at the
funeral of the venerable Dr. Martin Luther,
preached by Mr. Johann Bugenhagen
Pomeranus, doctor and pastor
of the churches in Wittenberg.
Printed in Wittenberg
by Georg Rhau,
in the year 1546.
Paul, the holy apostle, says in I Thessalonians 4:
We do not want to hold back, dear brothers, concerning those who are asleep
so that you may not be sorrowful as the others who have no hope.
For since we believe that Jesus has died and risen, even so,
God will bring those with Him who have fallen asleep through Jesus.
I am now supposed to preach a sermon at the funeral of our dearly beloved father, blessed Dr. Martin,
and gladly do so. But what shall I say and how shall I speak, since I probably will not be able to utter a
word because of my tears? And who shall comfort you if I, your pastor and preacher, cannot speak?
Where can I turn from you? I will, no doubt, cause more crying and mourning with my sermon. For
how should we not all mourn heartily, since God has sent us this sorrow and has taken from us the
noble and dear man, the venerable Dr. Martin Luther? Through him God has rendered inexpressible
gifts and grace to all of us and to all the churches of Christ in Germany, as well as to many in foreign
countries. Through him God has also triumphed gloriously over the kingdom of Satan and against so
much shameful idolatry and human ordinance, indeed, as Paul says, against the devil's teachings
throughout the world, and has revealed to us in the Gospel the sublime, great
heavenly secret, his dear Son Jesus Christ (as Paul also says in Ephesians and Colossians). Through
him, our dear father, Christ has defended his Gospel against the grievous pope and various rabble and
tyrants, indeed, against all the portals of hell. He gave to this dear man the spirit of power and strength
so that he is afraid of no one, however great and mighty he may be. He held so boldly to the Gospel
and to pure doctrine that the world often believed that he was too sharp and too excessive with his
rebuking and scolding, just as the Jews and Pharisees, the bitter and poisonous vipers, accused Christ,
for it hurt them severely and caused them pain that they were chastised by means of the pure truth.
However, they did not accept the salutary teaching.
God has taken away from us this great teacher, prophet, and divinely sent reformer of the church. Oh,
how can we cease mourning and crying? How can we, after all, obey the dear Paul here when he says:
"You should not grieve because of those who are asleep?" But he adds immediately: "Like the others
who have no hope." We who believe know that those who have fallen asleep in Christ will be
awakened again to a better life where we will meet them again and be together with them eternally.
However, the world was not worthy to have this dear man of God any longer, to continue to slander
and persecute him. Albeit, that same, ungrateful world received much good through this great man,
especially that it has been freed from a variety of oppression and tyranny of the loathsome papacy.
Therefore, many of the adversaries (who still have some wisdom and understanding) would have
preferred that the dear man had continued to live for a long time.
This I have said initially, that we truly have great cause to mourn heartily since we have lost such a great
and dear man. And truly (since this may help a bit) Christian kings, princes, and cities and all who have
recognized the Gospel of truth mourn with us. Therefore, we do not mourn alone, but many thousands
in Christendom mourn with us from time to time. It was not fitting that the current, grievous pope, the
Cardinal of Mainz, or Duke Henry (all of whom he enraged mightily with the truth) should ever delight
in the death of this man. And I hope that the adversaries will not delight in his death for long. For the
person has indeed died in Christ, but the mighty, blessed, godly doctrine of this precious man still lives
For he was without doubt the angel concerning whom it is written in Revelation 14, who flew through
the midst of heaven and had an eternal Gospel, etc., as the text says:
And I saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven. He had an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those
who sit and dwell on earth, to all heathen and races and languages and nations. And he said with a loud
voice: Fear God and give him honor, for the time of his judgment has come. Worship the one who has
made heaven and earth, the seas and the springs of water. And another angel followed and said: "She
has fallen, she has fallen, Babylon, the great city, for she has made drunk all the heathen with the wine
of her harlotry."
This angel who says, "Fear God and give him the honor," was Dr. Martin Luther. And what is written
here, "Fear God and give him the honor," are the two parts of Dr. Martin Luther s doctrine, the Law
and the Gospel, through which all of Scripture is unlocked and Christ, our righteousness and eternal life,
is recognized. To these two he has also added this passage ("the time of his judgment has come") and
has taught regarding proper prayer and invocation of God the heavenly Father in Spirit and in truth. As
the angel also says in Revelation 14: "Worship the one who has made heaven and earth, etc."
For after the teaching of this angel, another angel will follow, who will proclaim comfort to the sorrowful
and persecuted church and the lightning and thunder of eternal judgment and condemnation against the
adversaries, as, after all, the other angel said: "She has fallen; she has fallen, Babylon, the great city."
Therefore, the adversaries will not rejoice long over our sorrow, as Christ also says in John 16: "Your
sorrow shall turn to joy." For according to Revelation, the aforementioned fourteenth chapter, we see
that this has happened before and still happens. If Revelation has some validity, then the other will,
without doubt, follow.
But, oh, how do I ramble on so with my sermon in this time of our crying and sorrow? This is enough
said about our rightful mourning, for we mourn justly that such a dear man, a proper bishop and
shepherd of souls, has departed from us. But in this sorrow we should also rightly recognize God s
grace and mercy to us and thank God that he has awakened for us through his Spirit this dear Dr.
Martin Luther against the antichristian doctrines of the abominable, satanic pope and against the devil's
doctrines only one hundred years after the death of the holy John Hus (who was killed for the sake of
the truth in the year 1415), just as John Hus himself prophesied before his death about a future swan.
Hus means "goose" in the Bohemian language. "You are now roasting a goose," (says John Hus), "but
God will awaken a swan whom you will not burn or roast." And as they shouted much against him,
which he could not answer, he supposedly said: "After one hundred years I will answer you." He has
done that uprightly through our dear father, Dr. Luther, and has begun it precisely in the one-hundred-and-first year. Yes, we should thank God that he preserved this dear man for us and his churches in the
violent disputes, in so many difficult conflicts, and that through him Christ has triumphed so often now
for almost thirty years. To the Lord Christ be praise and honor in eternity. Amen.
But we should also rejoice with our dear father Luther that he left and departed from us to the Lord
Christ in the highest apostolic and prophetic office in which he faithfully accomplished what he was
commanded. For with Christ are the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and many to whom he
preached the Gospel, all the holy angels, Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham, that is, in the eternal joy of
all believers. We will experience what this interim period until the Day of Judgment is like, as Paul says
in Philippians 1: "I desire to depart and to be with Christ; and as Stephen also says in Acts: "Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit"; and Jesus to the thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise."
For there is no doubt, just as the spirit of Christ was in the hands of the Father until the resurrection on
Easter, since he said: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit, etc.," so will our spirits be in the
hands of Christ until our resurrection. For that is the meaning of the words of Lazarus: "But now he is
comforted while you are tormented."
What kind of peace or comfort the believers have and what kind of anxiety or torment the unbelievers
have in the meantime, until the day of judgment, we cannot say so precisely on the basis of Scripture.
Scripture says that they are asleep, as Paul says in Thessalonians, "concerning those who are asleep."
However, just as in natural sleep the healthy rest in a sweet sleep and are thereby refreshed and
become stronger and healthier, while the sick or the sorrowing and especially those who are in the
terror or fear of death sleep with difficulty, with horrible dreams, and restlessly so that sleep is not rest
for them but a more frightful, more desolate unrest than being awake, in the same way there is a
difference between the sleep of the believers and the godless. But about this we cannot speak further or
infer other than what the words of Scripture say.
Our dear father Dr. Martin Luther has now attained what he often desired. And if he were to return to
us again now, he would reprimand our mourning and faint-heartedness with the word of Christ from
John 16: "If you loved me you would rejoice because I go to the Father, and you would not begrudge
me this eternal rest and joy." Christ has conquered death for us. Why, then, are we afraid? The death of
the body is for us a beginning of life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord, who has become for us a
noble, precious sacrifice.
I still remember that when our honorable, dear father, Dr. Martin Luther, saw several depart sweetly
in the confession of Christ, he said: "May God grant me that I may also depart so sweetly in the bosom
of Christ and that