In this episode of Tidbits from Church History we consider John Calvin’s death, particularly his grave. From this account of John Calvin’s life we get a glimpse into the man’s humility, a humility worth imitating. Here was a reformer, one of the most important men in all of history, who died a quiet, humble death in Geneva after giving so much of his life to serve the people of that city in Gospel labors. Calvin’s grave speaks to us of our need to continued growth in humility.
Hebrews 11:4 And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
More on Calvin’s Final Years
In his final five years, he translated the final edition of the Institutes into French, wrote a large commentary on the Pentateuch, and preached almost tirelessly. Almost. At barely fifty years old he was battling increasing illness and frailty, but his labors continued unceasing. There were seasons of sickness followed by renewed strength.
The great reformer began slowing for the final time in February of 1564. Soon it was too draining to preach and lecture. He spent his final months bedridden and died May 27, 1564, just two weeks shy of his fifty-fifth birthday.
Calvin could tell in his lifetime that he’d likely be remembered long after his death. So he took pains to fade as namelessly from this world as he could. He requested burial in an unmarked grave hoping to prevent pilgrims from coming to see his resting place and engaging in the kind of idolatry he’d spent his lifetime standing against.
In death he completed his life’s labors, not seeking to make much of Calvin, but striving with all his might to point beyond himself to the one who saved him—the one infinitely worthy of being made much of.
– from Desiring God