Monday, April 30, 2018

Calvin on the Man Born Blind as Reviled Messenger

In preparing to preach yesterday on John 9:26-38 I continued my reading of John Calvin’s commentary on the Fourth Gospel. Calvin notes the audacity of the man born blind in tweaking the Pharisees. In v. 26 he asks them, “will ye also be his disciples?”
Calvin observes:

It is an astonishing display of freedom, when a man of mean and low condition, and especially liable to be reproached on account of his poverty, fearlessly provokes the rage of all the priests against himself.

When the Pharisees later indignantly revile the man saying, “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?” (v. 34), Calvin reflects:

Now, since we ought always to hear God, by whomsoever he may talk to us, let us learn not to despise any man, that God may find us always mild and submissive, even though he employ a person altogether mean and despicable to instruct us. For there is not a more dangerous plague than when pride stops our ears, so that we do not deign to hear those who warn us for our profit; and it frequently happens that God purposely selects vile and worthless persons to instruct and warn us, in order to subdue our pride.

No doubt, Calvin sees in the man born blind’s confrontation with the Pharisees a paradigm for the stand of humble Reformed preachers in critique of reviling Roman authorities.


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