Passional of Christ and Antichrist

Created by Lucas Cranach [2]
Text by Philip Melanchthon
A. D. 1521

Christ flees as the Jews attempt

to make Him their king.

The Pope defends his false claim to secular rule with cannon and sword, though the Donation of Constantine is a proven fraud.


Whosoever wished to be Christ’s
disciple must take up his cross
and follow Him……on foot.

The Pope carries his cross borne aloft as a prince. See how willingly he suffers the cross of adversity.


Christ preached the Kingdom of God.

The Pope, neglecting this duty, prefers royal feasts to preaching the Gospel.


Christ entered
Jerusalem in peace,
seated on a lowly ass.

The Pope rides in state, on a steed, claiming he is above the emperor. The soldiers uphold his right, though they are unaware this papal ride takes them all to Hell.


Christ drove the money changers from the temple.

The Pope now takes their place. Antichrist sits in the temple of God displaying himself as God. As Daniel foretold, he alters all divine ordinances, suppresses holy Scripture, and sells dispensations, indulgences, palliums and bishoprics. He dissolves marriages, makes laws and breaks them in return for suitable payment. He raises up saints, burdens consciences, blesses and damns to the fourth generation, demanding is voice be heard as is God.


Christ ascends to His heavenly Father.

Antichrist is thrust into Hell.


Further Contrasts in This Series
(though not depicted here)

Christ is crowned with thorns, while the Pope is crowned with the triple tiara, the sign of his secular power, said to be inherited from Constantine.

Christ washes the feet of His disciples, while the Pope presents his foot for princes and kings to kiss.

Christ commanded paying authorities their due, (Matt. 15), a command repeated in Romans 13. The Pope claims exemption for all his followers. He orders the Interdict on those who follow Christ’s command by levying tax on clerical persons or their property.

Christ ministered to the poor and lame in humility, taking the form of a servant. The Pope considers it beneath his dignity to humble himself, believing that the humble man brings contempt upon his government. Such an argument is fit for fools, but the Pope must think the Germans fools, to try to rule over them as he does.

Christ was born of humble parents, in a stable. The Pope is armed, ready to wage war. Such are the lengths to which he will go to ensure clerical possession of his property – he is willing to spill Christian blood, overturning civil authority. Authorities who imprison clergy will find that the Pope releases their subjects from their oaths of obedience, allowing the defense of clerical goods with both the secular and spiritual swords.

Christ commanded His disciples go poor into the world. The Pope commands that no bishop should preside over no less than a great town, and he should be given sufficient provision, worthy title and great honor.

Christ reminded the murmuring Pharisees that the kingdom of God was not in externals, but within us. In keeping the laws of men, such as papal disciplinary laws, one may transgress the laws of God. The Pope sits on a throne, issuing laws wholly concerned with externals the ordering of clothes, tonsures, feast days, consecrations, benefices, monkish sects and priests. Yet the clergy call themselves and their property Christ’s Church, and regard themselves as the elect of God, as if the laity were not in the Church.



[1] FOR THE SAKE OF THE SIMPLE FOLK: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation, R. W. Scribner, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 150-55. “A Passional was a small picture book depicting scenes from the life of Christ or the saints for pious meditation by the unlearned.” (p. 149)

[2] “As one of Martin Luther’s closest friends, the Saxon court painter was close to the central ideas of the Reformation from its inception.” (Ibid.)