The Lutheran prince then got on his knees and said:
Before I let anyone take from me the Word of God and ask me to deny my God, I will kneel and let them strike off my head.
What was it that caused these men to risk everything for the sake of their confession? Were they crazy? Stupid? Bull-headed?
No, it was the truth of God’s Word! It was the most amazing, incredible, unfathomable truth that they had been set free from their sins not because of anything they had done, but rather on account of Christ and His perfect sacrifice for sinners. The heart of their confession was this:
We teach that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God through our merit, work, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God our of grace for Christ’s sake through faith, when we believe that Christ has suffered for us and that for His sake our sin is forgiven. – Augsburg Confession, Article IV
By God’s grace, the confessors at Augsburg testitified to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They understood that on account of Christ’s blood and righteousness given to them as a gift they had been set free from sin, from death, and from judgment. They were free from fear of anything that any man, no matter how powerful, could do to them.
Today we give thanks to God that on account of Christ, we too have been set free to confess with our forefathers this Good News of Christ’s forgiveness for sinners.
Together with these Lutheran confessors, we confess Christ with joyful certainty, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when we’re scared, even when we feel threatened, knowing that we have been set free from fear of doing so. We confess with joyful certainty that Christ forgives unconditionally. We confess that Christ delivers the gifts of His cross abundantly through Word and Sacrament. We confess that Baptism now saves! We confess with joyful certainty the hope we have in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. We confess that Jesus gives us His very body and blood to assure us that we are forgiven!