A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a University student who grew up in Geneva. When he told me where he was from, I asked him if he had ever heard of John Calvin (he was not a Christian). He reacted to my question as if I had connected jumper cables to his ears, “Calvin! Calvin! We shall NEVER get away from Calvin!”
I thought then that if the mere mention of your name causes someone to get a huge case of the vapors over 450 years after your death, you must have done something right. Most men who lived half a millennium ago have been completely forgotten. The bear mention of Calvin’s name still gives men the sweats.
Calvin’s work will never be forgotten — and justly so. What a work it was! I’ve heard ministers complain loudly about having to prepare two sermons each week. Here’s Calvin’s work week:
His schedule from 1541 to 1549 involved three weekday sermons given at five in the evening and three Sunday services (one at daybreak, one at nine o’clock, and one at three o’clock).
On the days he did not preach, he lectured at the academy.
On Thursday he met with the elders.
After 1549, Calvin preached at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on the Lord’s Day and gave one sermon each weekday every other week (Monday through Saturday) — he preached ten times every 14 days.
During the week he preached on the Old Testament and on Sundays, from the New Testament — sometimes expounding the Psalms on Sunday afternoons.
Here’s a list of the books of the Bible he covered in his weekly Sunday sermons:
He preached through the book of Acts (from 1549-1554—189 sermons);
the Pauline Epistles (from 1554-1558—65 sermons);
the Gospels (from 1559-1564).
During the week he preached through Jeremiah and Lamentations (up to 1550);
the Minor Prophets and Daniel (1550-1552);
I Samuel and II Samuel (1561-1563);
I & II Kings (1563-1564).
In addition to all this, he carried on a voluminous correspondence; wrote commentaries; composed rebuttals to the errors of opponents; fended off slander, rumors, and personal attacks from innumerable enemies; dealt with numerous controversies; taught at the academy and daily cared for an invalid wife (who was bed-ridden the last four years of her life before her death in 1550).
AND he did all this while enduring terrible health himself. Calvin had a very weak constitution and spent nearly every day of his adult life in pain; daily having to bear up under some illness, ailment, or physical discomfort. Which makes all that he accomplished all the more amazing.
Ok. So I repent of complaining about how much I have to do. Compared to pastor John’s schedule and his trials, I’ve spent my life on the beach.
July 10 is the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth. Let’s pray that the Lord will enable us to can get something done.