The composition of the painting is divided into two sections, but in a less rigid and schematic manner than is the case in other versions of the same subject. The nude figure is seated on a tree trunk centrally in the foreground. His head is inclined to the left and his arms are folded. A prophet from the Old Testament is on the side of Law. He bends down to the nude figure and appears to speak with him and points with his left hand to the crucifixion on the side of Mercy. As such he fulfills the same function as St John the Baptist. By making this alteration Luther's idea of human existence, which occurs in a state between Law and the Gospel is emphasized more than in other versions, as is the fact that Law leads man to Christ, which is a pre-requisite for salvation. The Fall of Man and the Brazen Serpent appear on the left side. Instead of being pursued by Death and the Devil, the man lies in an open grave on the left side wearing a shroud and thus clearly juxtaposes Death on the left with the resurrection of Christ on the right side. The resurrected Christ stands in front of the burial cave, under his feet lie the vanquished Devil with Death. The sacrificial Lamb stands above the cave with the crucifix. Behind is a rocky outcrop and the Virgin stands on the summit encircle by heads of angels in a cloud with her hands clasped, and as such is characterized as just. The Christ child floats down to her from a gloriole with a T-shaped cross and in anticipation of the conception. The Virgin thus also represents a role model for the Faithful with respect to the humble and passive acceptance of God's will. Like the Old Testament equivalent on the side of Law, that is to say like Moses, who kneels to receive the tablets of the commandments from God's hands.
 see Harbison 1976, 101
[Görres 2006, 18-19, revised 2012]