Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Mr. Peter Langbroek
The congregation watched two men carrying a man seated in a chair, two pillows propped behind his back--that Easter Sunday, April 2, 1564, in St. PeterÕs Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland. The men carried him on poles fastened one each side of his chair. The congregation had not seen him for two months, since the time he had to leave in the middle of the sermon and be aided down the circular stairs from the pulpit above them. They watched the men set him near the pulpit. The table was near him. The bread and wine was ready to be served. He was their pastor and teacher, John Calvin.

Theodore Beza climbed the stairs instead of him. Pastor Beza blessed the congregation. They sang. Scripture was read. Pastor Beza prayed. Then he preached. He preached about Jesus Christ Who arose from the dead. He paid the price for sin. He became the Substitute for sinners, bearing GodÕs anger against sin in their stead. He became the Substitute for sinners, bearing GodÕs anger towards sin in their stead. The LordÕs Supper was to remember His death until He comes again. John Calvin listened intently.

The congregation stole glances at him as pastor Beza preached. John Calvin had lost more weight, they noticed. His cheeks were more hollowed and his frame more gaunt. Not that he had been that well before. He always had stomach problems and suffered bad headaches. This time he was suffering from a lung disease. His breathing was short and raspy. One thing everyone knew, he was a dying man.

A short and stocky old man with a long white beard and fiery eyes glanced at John Calvin too. It was over thirty years ago that Calvin met him in Geneva. Calvin only wanted to stay in Geneva for one night, but Farel asked him to stay there to teach and preach. ÒA shy timid man like me do that? No, IÕd be better off studying and reading books.Ó Farel pleaded with Calvin. Calvin refused. Then FarelÕs voice thundered at him, ÒI say to you in the name of Almighty God, to you who only put forth your studies as a pretense, that if you will not help us to carry on this work of God, God will curse you, for you will be seeking your own honour instead of ChristÕs!Ó Calvin felt God Himself had spoken. He felt GodÕs hand reach down from heaven to stop him. Calvin stayed.

He preached many sermons, taught many Bible studies, wrote many books, wrote many letters, and pastored many people. He did find some time to play games with children in the street, but laziness was a great sin to him. Calvin knew that God had blessed his work more than he expected. People from all over Europe came to be taught at the Genevan Academy. Even children were taught the Scriptures. There was a time when Calvin refused to hold the LordÕs Supper. Men and women were living worldly lives and were ignorant of the Word of God. Yet, they were going to the LordÕs Supper without repenting before God. Calvin would not allow that.

Calvin had his enemies. They ÒsiccedÓ their dogs on him. The dogs would bite his legs or pull on his robe while the owners laughed and watched. People sang rude and crude songs about him. Even children teased him. They nicknamed him Cain. Sometimes they jostled him when he walked down the streets. Calvin was not intimidated. But inside, this shy, timid man was deeply hurt.

Calvin sat in his chair looking at the bread and wine that Easter morning. How he wished to have the LordÕs Supper every week. He knew it would probably be his second last time.* The LordÕs Supper meant so much to him. This was a sign and seal of ChristÕs sacrifice! Pastor Beza descended the stairs to the table. He stood next to Calvin. Calvin listened to Beza repeat ChristÕs words, ÒDo this in remembrance of Me.Ó Calvin, many times, had held the loaf and poured the cup. This time Beza gave him a piece of bread and helped him sip the wine. The congregation watched. The bread and wine was passed to them. Then they sang the Song of Simeon: ÒNow lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.Ó Calvin sang this song too, with all the strength he could muster. Many could not hold back the tears when they heard him sing. No one forgot the joy that beamed from this manÕs face.

About six weeks later he died in peace. The angels took his soul to be in heaven with his Lord.

Children, Calvin understood an practiced what his life should be. He once wrote in a letter to Farel, ÒI offer my heart to God as a sacrifice.Ó That Sunday he was reminded once more that Christ became a sacrifice for him. What more could he offer to the Lord but his heart? He lived humbly and sacrificed himself as GodÕs tool for His kingdom. God is still using his work today throughout the world, and you and I enjoy the rich rewards of his labours. Let us remember his faith and sacrifice, and the sovereign Lord Who made him do so.

*This Easter Sunday was the last time John Calvin had the LordÕs Supper. What did I mean when I said it was Òhis second last timeÓ?

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