In 1483, on this day, a young miner in the German town of Eisleben walked to the church. He was carrying his firstborn son. He was born that night. Now he was going to be baptized. The priest asked: “What is his name?” The reply was: “Martin.” The priest baptized him: “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
Our beloved Doktor was named for the saint whose day it is: St. Martin of Tours. He was born in 316 in Hungary but grew up in northern Italy. He’s just the right saint for today because he followed in his father’s footsteps as a Roman soldier, serving in France. By that time, however, he had done something against their wishes. He was a Christian.
One night, at the gates of Amiens, he met a beggar. He gave this man half his cloak. That night, he dreamed Christ commended him for this deed by revealing Himself to him as the beggar. This was in accord with one of the judgment scenes in St. Matthew’s Gospel; Jesus says: “Whatever you have done for the least of these My brethren, you have done to Me.”
After he left the military, he became a monk, but not one of those monks Dr. Luther had no use for. He was a missionary. He went throughout the countryside preaching Jesus and opposing idolatry. He destroyed pagan worship and brought the druids into subjection – in those days France was inhabited by the Celts. He also preached against the Arian heresy, which claims Jesus is not God, but merely the chief of God’s creation. This heresy is preached today by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In 371, the city of Tours needed a pastor. The Holy Spirit through the faithful there called Martin. He was a faithful pastor to them until his death on Nov. 8, 397 (he was buried on this day). He also started a monastery there. From that place, he and his successors sent out men to faithfully preach the Gospel throughout northern Europe. His goal was to turn sinful men into faithful preachers of Jesus’ Gospel.
He was a man after St. Paul’s own heart. He fought off the wolves called false teachers. He preached the Gospel: Jesus purchased you, His Church, with His own Blood when He died on the Cross. He was a faithful pastor and bishop, teaching the faithful what Jesus had given him to say to them.
He preached repentance towards God. We are poor, miserable sinners, worthy of nothing but death and damnation. He preached faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake; we receive this forgiveness through faith. Faith receives His gifts and believes. It does nothing but receive. It knows it cannot do anything to earn God’s favor. It confesses Jesus has done everything needed to forgive sins, and now is doing everything needed to get you into His heaven.
St. Martin preached this. He absolved sinners. He baptized many. He gave the faithful to eat and to drink the very Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. He and Dr. Luther fulfilled the same ministry, and they both sent men throughout the world to preach the saving Gospel to all nations. They cared nothing about the riches of this world. Their sole care was to bring you to the riches of heaven, for our Jesus made Himself poor that you might become rich, that you might have everything in Him.
Today we thank God for our nation’s veterans, both those still alive and those whose graves are around us. They were called by God to fight for their country. In so doing they served not themselves, but their fellow countrymen. Some sacrificed themselves, and others came home to serve their land in other ways. Today we give God thanks for them. They fought to defend us from wicked men. God used them for this purpose. May He continue to raise up men for this purpose, and may He save our land from all wickedness and sin.