In 1505 Martin Luther entered the monastery in Erfurt. He was ordained in the chapel used by monks of the Augustinian order. When he was ordained neither Luther nor anyone else knew what this event would mean for him, the church, or the world. It was an intersection of time destined to change the course of history forever. One hundred years earlier the Bohemian reformer Jan Hus had been burned at the stake for heresy. Hus said to the bishop who had ordered his execution, “You may cook this goose, but there will come a swan who will not be silenced.” Hus was making a play on words with this prediction. The name Hus in the Czech language means “goose.”
In the summer of 1996, I led a tour that followed the footsteps of Luther. Celebrations were scheduled all over Germany in commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Luther’s death. Posters were widely displayed bearing the likeness of Luther against the backdrop of a swan. The German people saw Luther as the fulfillment of Hus’s prophecy, as the incarnate swan who was to come.
The circumstances of Luther’s ordination were marked by a double irony. When Luther prostrated himself with arms outstretched in the form of the cross, he was lying at the base of the chapel’s altar. The floor was made of stone. The exact spot where Luther lay was marked by an inscription in the stone indicating who was buried directly beneath the spot: the very bishop who had ordered the execution of Jan Hus. It is a great temptation to revise history and ascribe to the bishop an appropriate response to Hus’s words that a swan would come. I would like to think the bishop replied, “Over my dead body!” Indeed it was over his dead body that the swan was ordained. Willing to Believe, Sproul (p. 48)
SOURCE: ORDINARY PASTOR