Praising Christ Inadequately by John Calvin from 365 Days With Calvin


And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” (Luke 11:27, NKJV)

Suggested further reading: Luke 18:18–34

John Calvin
John Calvin

Christ corrects what the woman says here. He does this because people are inclined to neglect even those gifts of God that they regard with astonishment and on which they bestow the highest praise.

In applauding Christ, the woman fails to mention what is most important: that in Christ salvation is exhibited to all. Her words are a feeble tribute because they fail to mention his grace and power that are extended to all. Christ justly claims for himself another kind of praise, not that his mother alone is blessed for bearing him, but that he brings to us perfect and eternal happiness.

We fail to do justice to the excellence of Christ until we consider the reason why the Father gave Christ to us. We must perceive the benefits that he brings to us so that we who are wretched in ourselves may become happy in him.

Why does Christ say nothing about himself and mention only the Word of God? He does this to open up all his treasures to us, for without the Word of God Jesus would have no conversation with us, or we with him. In communicating himself to us by the Word, he rightly and properly calls us to hear and keep that Word, so that by faith he may become ours.

We now see the difference between Christ’s reply and the woman’s commendation, for the blessedness that she limits to his mother is a favor that he offers freely to all. He shows us that we ought to have no ordinary esteem for him because all the treasures of life, blessedness, and glory are hidden in him (Col. 2:3). He dispenses those to us by the Word so they may be communicated to those who embrace the Word by faith; for God’s free adoption of us, which we obtain by faith, is the key to the kingdom of heaven.

for meditation: Many people praise Jesus inadequately. They esteem Jesus as a good teacher, an excellent example, and a good man, but they miss the major point of who he is and of his mission. Have you fallen prey to the temptation to focus on aspects of Jesus’ ministry that are peripheral to the atonement, which was his main purpose?

John Calvin and Joel R. Beeke, 365 Days with Calvin, (Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 194.

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Unashamed, unapologetic follower of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior. Founder, editor, and chief author for The Christian Report. Married, father of two, armed services veteran, Virginian. Career firefighter/paramedic, emergency services chaplain. Aspiring theologian, avid student of biblical theology.