Cranach in the Study

Over ten years ago, a friend introduced me to this painting he saw while touring the Luther lands in Germany. It’s a part of an altarpiece of St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg—the church where Luther regularly preached.

Ever since, I have always thought that this would make an excellent piece to have hanging on the wall of my study. Today, I got my wish. I was able to order a giclée reprint from and then had it framed at a local frame shop here in northeast El Paso.

Here is what strikes me about the painting:

  • Luther’s preaching points to Christ. He is preaching from the Scriptures, but the Scriptures always point us to Jesus. Therefore preaching should do the same. Preaching is not primarily aimed at educating or entertaining people, nor is it primarily aimed at changing people’s behavior. But it is to point to Christ who hung on the tree in place of sinners.
  • The congregation listens to Luther preaching, but their attention is also on Christ. They see Christ and hear Christ. Jesus should always “get in the way” between the preacher and the parishioner. This, then, is how the laity evaluates preaching—by what the preacher says about Jesus.
  • The congregation is made up of young and old. The congregation includes the youngest of those who believe in Jesus. Babies sit with an unobstructed view of Christ—at the front of the church. They, too, need Jesus. They, too, hear and see Jesus in the divine service. They, too, receive the gifts of Christ.