Proverbs 9:7 (ESV)
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
When you see clearly, you see folly, even when everyone else sees nothing wrong.
That can get you into trouble. History is replete with martyrs whose Christian eyes are what started them down the road to martyrdom.
Jan Hus walked just such a road. He, like Patrick before him and Luther after, saw problems where most saw none (or at least pretended to see none). His betrayal and martyrdom set the stage for the Reformation.
The church had become corrupted and Hus saw that clearly. Power tends to corrupt, and the church hierarchy was no exception. The system of government in the church (and specifically, the selling of indulgences) offended Hus.
But his writings offended the hierarchy even more. Under the pretense of wanting to hear him give an account of his views, he was summoned to the Council of Constance in 1414. The council had promised significant reforms and now promised Hus safe conduct.
Both were lies. Hus was immediately imprisoned upon his arrival and never given a chance to defend himself or his views. He was only given the “opportunity” to recant. He was burned at the stake for heresy on July 6, 1415.
Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. — Proverbs 28:5 (ESV)
Hus’s ideas didn’t die with him. The Hussite wars (1419–1436) attest to that.
The Hussites won and the church was forced to make concessions. Unfortunately, all they did was allow some specific practices desired by the Hussites. Their eyes were not opened.
When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. — Proverbs 28:12 (ESV)
But the story doesn’t end there. As a young man, Martin Luther would discover some of Hus’s sermons. Luther would later write, "I was overwhelmed with astonishment. I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill."
People also learned from Hus’s betrayal. A century after the Council of Constance, Luther was similarly “summoned.” This time everyone was forewarned. That may have helped save Luther from a similar fate.
Thus, in two vastly different ways, Hus made the world ready for the Reformation.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.