Reformation500: Jan Hus, Pioneer and Martyr Reformer of the Church

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

 

Last week, Jan Hus was introduced to be a forerunner of the Reformation. He was a Czech priest whose country was formerly known as the Kingdom of Bohemia. He also served as dean and rector of the Charles University in Prague, known to many as the first reformer of the Church.

He is often associated with the Englishman John Wycliffe, the theorist of ecclesiastical Reformation. Living before Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, his teachings had a great impact on the reformist Bohemian religious denomination and on Martin Luther himself. Among the known Reformers, he is noted to be one of those martyred for his beliefs. He was burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, including those on ecclesiology, the Eucharist, and other theological topics.

The aftermath of his death on July 6, 1415 saw his followers spearhead the Hussite Wars. His actions denouncing the moral failings of clergy, bishops, and even the papacy from his pulpit led to his demise but has inspired generations of Christian reformers to seek for knowledge of the Word of God.

On the day of his execution, he was noted to have knelt down, spread out his hands, and prayed aloud. The executioner took off his clothes and tied his hands behind his back with ropes, and bound his neck with a chain to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. At the last moment, he was asked to recant his beliefs in order to save his life. He responded by saying:

“God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached. In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.”

Before he breathed his last breath, he cried out, “Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on us!”.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'” (NIV)

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