This past Sunday we had the opportunity to hear about the gospel at work in Scotland. One of the names that has been etched into the religious history of Scotland is John Knox. A contemporary of John Calvin in the 1500’s, Knox was a Scottish minister, theologian, author and a leader of the reformation. Knox was educated under Roman Catholic instruction. Eventually John Knox would part with his Catholic training and retaliate against the French Catholics when bishops and priest were nothing more than political appointments. In 1547 the French would take Knox hostage and force him to serve as a galley slave on their warship.
After 19 months he was set free and eventually made his way to England. During this time he worked with other reformers specifically attacking the Catholic mass. John Knox would find England to be a safe haven for five years. However in July 1553 Mary Tudor would become Queen of England and begin her pursuit to reverse the progress of the reformation. Knox was in great danger and eventually left England to find safety as a minister in Frankfort Germany. During this time he would also serve in Switzerland where he was acquainted with John Calvin.
In 1559 John Knox returned to Scotland where he would find a people throughout the country ready to put an end to Roman Catholicism. A group identified as “The Lords of the Congregation” vowed to promote Protestant religion throughout Scotland. Knox would become the preacher who galvanized the Scottish church. He was instrumental in crafting the Scottish Confession of Faith and the Book of Common Order. Much of his work focused on abolishing the established order and practice of the church functioning under government control. He became the father of the Presbyterians. Knox would finish out his years serving as the preacher of the church in Edinburgh.
Knox has been identified as a man of great courage. Nowhere was this seen more clearly than in his interactions with Mary Queen of Scots. Knox’s interactions with Queen Mary were legendary. His relationship with the Queen was hostile. Mary was the subject of many of his sermons and there was great division between Queen Mary and John Knox. In response to Knox’s imprecatory prayers, Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have said: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.”
A great lesson that we can discover from John Knox is the importance of standing with courage during a time of opposition. John Knox recognized the importance for the church to do what the Bible said, and not simply follow tradition. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to anyone, even kings and queens, for what he knew was right. His preaching was used by the grace of God to transform Scotland.
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