John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:15 - 6:15

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:15 - 6:15


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15.To make him a king. When those men intended to give to Christ the title and honor of king, there was some ground for what they did. But they erred egregiously in taking upon themselves the liberty of making a king; for Scripture ascribes this as peculiar to God alone, as it is said,

I have appointed my king on my holy hill of Zion,

(Psa_2:6.)

Again, what sort of kingdom do they contrive for him? An earthly one, which is utterly inconsistent with his person. Hence let us learn how dangerous it is, in the things of God, to neglect His word, and to contrive anything of our own opinion; for there is nothing which the foolish subtlety of our understanding does not corrupt. And what avails the pretense of zeal, when by our disorderly worship we offer a greater insult to God than if a person were expressly and deliberately to make an attack on his glory?

We know how furious were the efforts of adversaries to extinguish the glory of Christ. That violence, indeed, reached its extreme point when he was crucified. But by means of his crucifixion salvation was obtained for the world, (126) and Christ himself obtained a splendid triumph over death and Satan. If he had permitted himself to be now made a king, his spiritual kingdom would have been ruined, the Gospel would have been stamped with everlasting infamy, and the hope of salvation would have been utterly destroyed. Modes of worship regulated according to our own fancy, and honors rashly contrived by men, have no other advantage than this, that they rob God of his true honor, and pour upon him nothing but reproach.

And take him by force. We must also observe the phrase, take by force They wished to take Christ by force, the Evangelist says; that is, with impetuous violence they wishedto make him a king, though against his will. If we desire, therefore, that he should approve of the honor which we confer upon him, we ought always to consider what he requires. And, indeed, they who venture to offer to God honors invented by themselves are chargeable with using some sort of force and violence towards him; for obedience is the foundation of true worship. Let us also learn from it with what reverence we ought to abide by the pure and simple word of God; for as soon as we turn aside in the smallest degree, the truth is poisoned by our leaven, so that it is no longer like itself. They learned from the word of God that he who was promised to be the Redeemer would be a king; but out of their own head they contrive an earthly kingdom, and they assign to him a kingdom contrary to the word of God. Thus, whenever we mix up our own opinions with the word of God, faith degenerates into frivolous conjectures. Let believers, therefore, cultivate habitual modesty, lest Satan hurry them into an ardor of inconsiderate and rash zeal, (127) so that, like the Giants, they shall rush violently against God, who is never worshipped aright but when we receive him as he presents himself to us.

It is astonishing that five thousand men should have been seized with such daring presumption, that they did not hesitate, by making a new king, to provoke against themselves Pilate’ army and the vast power (128) of the Roman empire; and it is certain that they would never have gone so far, if they had not, relying on the predictions of the Prophets, hoped that God would be on their side, and, consequently, that they would overcome. But still they went wrong in contriving a kingdom of which the Prophets had never spoken. So far are they from having the hand of God favorable to aid their undertaking that, on the contrary, Christ withdraws. That was also the reason why wretched men under Popery wandered so long in gross darkness — while God was, as it were, absent — because they had dared to pollute the whole of his worship by their foolish inventions. (129)



(126) “Le salut a este acquis aux hommes;” — “ was obtained for men.”

(127) “En une ardeur de zele inconsidere et temeraire.”

(128) “La grande puissance.”

(129) “Par leurs folles inventions.”