Hi my name is Dean Smith and this is Podcast #3: How much authority do you have. During the 1500s, Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic Priest who started the Protestant church.
In this broadcast I want to discuss Martin Luther’s very strange prayer that led to the miraculous healing of fellow protestant co-worker Friedrich Myconius in 1540. So what was so strange about Martin Luther’s prayer and what can we learn from it?
It was 501 years ago this year, October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther pounded his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany calling for reform in the corrupt Roman Catholic church.
Luther was protesting the sale of indulgences by a fellow Monk Johann Tetzel who was in town raising money for renovations of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Indulgences allowed you to buy your way into heaven, no matter what kind of lifestyle you lived.
You could even purchase an indulgence for somebody who had already died.
People were wasting a lot of money on something that according to the Bible did not work.
You simply can’t bribe your way into heaven.
Luther believed that the Bible was a Christian’s final authority, not the pope or church tradition. He believed a person was saved by faith, not by indulgences and certainly not by good works.
Initially Luther was only interested in reforming the Roman Catholic church, but when it called him a heretic and demanded he recant, Luther refused and the monk started the protest or protestant church.
But what many people don’t know is that Martin Luther also believed the same faith that saved a person could also produce Divine healing.
It would take another three centuries before a Christian by the name of John Darby came up with the theological theory that divine healing and spiritual gifts were not for today. But Luther’s faith hadn’t yet been contaminated by this belief and in 1540 when Martin Luther’s coworker, Friedrich Myconius lay in bed dying from Tuberculosis, he sent a farewell letter to Luther.
When Luther read the letter he immediately responded with his own letter that included a prayer for healing.When Myconius, who could no longer speak, read the letter he was instantly healed and would go on to outlive Luther by two months.
But Martin Luther’s prayer was very unusual and we need to take a closer look at it.
Here is what Martin Luther wrote:
“I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”
What a strange prayer.
Let’s read that last line again:
“For this I am praying, this is my will, may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name God.”
Luther prayed that his will, Martin Luther’s will, would be done and when Myconius read this, he was instantly healed.
Why did Martin Luther pray that his will be done?
But, maybe the bigger questions is why did God answer such a stranger prayer?
Why — because Marin Luther understood his authority and power as a believer.
In the Gospels, we read when Jesus sent His disciples out to heal the sick, cast out demons and preach the Kingdom of God.
He told them this:
“And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Luke 9:1-2 NASV)
Jesus gave His disciples authority and power to heal the sick and cast out demons.
The two key words here are: Authority and power.
- Authority means a person has the right to do something.
- Power means they have the ability to exercise this authority.
When Jesus gave His disciples authority and power that meant it was their authority.
The best example of how this works is seen in the role of police in our society. A policeman has the authority to make an arrest when someone breaks the law.
Police officers do not have to call the city mayor to get the permission to make an arrest, they already have the authority to do it.
In the same way, the disciples did not need to text Jesus to get permission to cast out demons or heal the sick, they understood that they already had Christ’s authority to do it.
It was their authority. They just needed to enforce it and make it happen.
Police also have the power to do enforce their authority. Though they may be out on the beat on their own, they have the full power of the police department, the justice system and the government backing them up.
It is there if they need it.
Growing up, one of my family’s favorite programs was Andy of Mayberry. It’s an old black and white TV show from the 60s that tells the story of two policeman in the small town of Mayberry.
The chief of police was Andy, starring Andy Griffith, and his bungling deputy Barney Fife acted by Don Knotts.
In one episode entitled “Lawman Barney,” Barney the 125 pound wanna-be sheriff spotted two farmers selling vegetables in the Town of Mayberry. They were violating Section 7b Article 4 of the town bylaws.
When Barney told the two farmers to move on, the two burly men towered over the diminutive sheriff and told him to shove off. Overwhelmed by his fears, Barney ran off to cower in the police station.
It was only after talking to Andy that Barney received a revelation of the authority and power he had enabling him to finally take on these two bullies.
Here is the key:
Barney had that authority and power all along. He had it the first time he confronted those two farmers, but those two bullies were able to defy Barney because he didn’t fully understand his position as a deputy sheriff.
In other words, it was only when Barney fully grasped and understood his position, did he have authority.
Many Christians haven’t fully grasped their identity in Christ.
Many of us walk around acting like Barney. We have authority in Christ, but we don’t know it. We have power, but we don’t believe it and because of this Satan defies us.
Martin Luther knew as a Christian he had authority and that is why he prayed the way he did. He prayed that his will would be done. He understood that it was his authority given to him by Christ.
He also knew his authority was backed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus who functioned on earth as fully man understood this as well. When the Pharisees accused Christ of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, Jesus countered them by saying:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:28 NASV)
Jesus understood that the Holy Spirit was the source of His power and we have the same power as well, backing us up.
So going back to the question I asked at the start of this podcast, how much authority do you have?
The answer is simple. How much authority and power do you believe you have?