John Hus, born in 1369 to a poor Bohemian family, grew up singing and serving in the church to make a living. He was educated at Prague University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Theology and Master of Arts from 1393-96. Then being ordained as a Catholic priest he started preaching in 1403 at Bethlehem chapel. It was said that John sought after these religious practices in the Church for peace and security rather than out of the deep desire of his heart.
“I had thought to become a priest quickly in order to secure a good livelihood and dress and to be held in esteem by men.”
But a big shift took place around the 1400’s when the teachings of John Wycliffe made it into Bohemia. Much of this is attributed to Queen Anne, the wife of Richard II. She was the sister of Wenceslaus, the king of Bohemia. It is said that she sent copies of Wycliffe’s work into Bohemia through her servants. Jerome of Prague, who later became a great friend and follower of Hus, also brought in Wycliffe’s writings around the same time frame.
When John Hus took hold of Wycliffe’s teachings as well as the Scriptures translated in his own language, a drastic change took place in his heart. The writings fueled John, causing his eyes to be opened to the errors of the Church. John started preaching and sharing this new passion and as he continued to read in the Bible for himself his heart for the true Bride of Christ exploded. His teachings and doctrine in opposition to the Roman Church were spreading like wild fire throughout the country and he became the sought after preacher in the land. The university disapproved of these new beliefs that Hus was teaching, even though Hus had become the rector. The archbishop also was displeased with the racket, leading him to complain to the pope!
This of course caused the Roman Church to be more infuriated with the works of Wycliffe. In 1410 the pope banned all of Wycliffe’s material, doctrines, and the right to preach it! John was not easily shut down and continued preaching, even under this ban. Like Wycliffe, Hus was now seen as an outcast and heretic, even though his followers continued to grow. Johns continued grounding in the Good News and calling out the contradictions of the Church was adored by the people and hated by the clergy. I would like to call this a time of revival in the Bible. Peoples eyes were being opened and their hearts were being radically changed by the reading and hearing of Truth for themselves!
The freedom from legalism that John experienced from the Scriptures was,
“When the Lord gave me knowledge of Scriptures, I discharged that kind of stupidity from my foolish mind.”
Referring to his past religious duties in the Church. Hus, found Life in the Scriptures,
“Desiring to hold, believe, and assert whatever is contained in them as long as I have breath in me.”
John was well received by the commoners but could only go so far with his influence. The political and religious leaders eventually shut him down causing him to remove himself from the area. He spent time in the Word and in study, leading him to write several influential pieces.
It was at the end of 1415 when the Council of Constance invited John with “safe” pretenses only to prosecute and detain him. John was held in the in prison for 73 days; chained, tortured, and fed poorly. Things did not get any better after being put on trial in June 1415. He was quickly found guilty with heresy and errors against the Church brought on by false witnesses of elite clergy members. John Hus stood his ground, using the Bible as his defense but when he asked for chance to explain, there was no grace or mercy. The trial ended rather quickly with it’s injustices and John was condemned to be burned at the stake. On July 6, 1415, he was stripped, tied, chained to a stake and burned. They used the writings of Wycliffe to fuel the wood beneath him. It was said that he was singing psalms and that he spoke a prophecy before he went.
The prophecy was along the lines of,
“In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”…or...”You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan whom you can neither roast nor boil.” (I’ve seen it both ways)
The term, “your goose is cooked” was coined during the martyrdom of John Hus. Hus meant “goose” in the old German language.
...Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses of Contention on the church at Wittenberg almost exactly a 100 years later! Luther stumble upon some of John’s sermons and said,
“I was overwhelmed with astonishment. I could not understand for what cause they had hurt so great a man who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.”
It is hard for me to grasp such cruelty against believers, even though the disciples were all faced with it and continued to tell us to persevere and overcome! Does the western church have the courage and boldness to stand like this when it is attacked? Do we as individuals have the boldness to stand on the Word of God and proclaim the goodness of Jesus? Within my lifetime I have already witnessed blatant attacks against Christianity and the Word of God and it has only intensified! I am thankful to live in a time where I still have the freedom to read His Word, to worship Him with freedom, and to share the Gospel with others and I’m praying that I will continue to do so even if it is banned.
Next post, leading up to the Unity of Brethren
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