When I got home from church and life group on Sunday, people were watching “Luther” on our new big screen projection system. I have a intense love of that movie so I joined them for the half hour before I needed to go to work. The back that I saw was when Martin Luther has been “kidnapped” by Prince Frederick of Saxony’s men and is translating the New Testament from Latin into German. Spalatin, Prince Frederick’s secreetary, has the apt line, “It’s what Rome fears most!” Luther’s reply is equally notable–“You can thank the Author for that.” It was right after that that I had to leave to go to work.
Yesterday, I watched the rest of the movie where Luther helps put down the peasant revolt and gives a gift of the German New Testament to Prince Frederick whom he dedicated it to. The look of Prince Frederick’s face is telling; he had probably never read the bible for himself, no matter how secularly educated he was, and certainly not in his mother tongue. Imagine reading your favorite book in Spanish or some other language you hardly master in a high school foreign language classes, then imagine someone giving you a copy of that book in English in the same language as your thoughts. Prince Frederick’s face beamed with excitement and his fingers shook, not with old age, as you’ll notice the actor who plays Prince Frederick is, but excitement and anticipation of something that would satisfy his desire.
How often do we take our English translation of the Bible for granted? We have several dozen different translations of the Bible in the same language. If we can’t understand the wording of a passage, we can go to a neighbor, friend, or sibling who has a different version and get it in different words, or go to a concordance to look up what the original word means. This is stuff that couldn’t be said of scholarship even two hundred years ago, yet do we always take advantage of the amazing opportunity we’re given? Are we diligent to seek out the scriptures? Has it become so easy that we forget to do it? Have we somehow complicated it unnecessarily, to the point that it becomes too hard to dig into? Why don’t we have the same enthusiasm that Prince Frederick had when he gazed on the Holy Scriptures written for the first time in his own language? has it become so commonplace that it’s given no place? Do we take advantage of the opportunities we’re given or do we take those opportunities for granted?