On February 20, 1547, Edward VI was crowned king of England. He was only nine years old. This new reign brought new opportunities for the Reformers in England. Edward was not like his father, Henry VIII, who had started a new church in England but was still very faithful to many Roman Catholic teachings. Instead, Edward was raised and influenced by his protestant stepmother Catherine Parr and his godfather Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.
Many Reformers looked to Edward’s reign to make sweeping changes to the church.
Henry VIII's funeral was very traditional in form and practice. Thomas Cranmer needed to appease Steven Gardiner and other conservatives who wanted to see England return to the church aligned with Rome. But Cranmer and other Reformers looked forward to the new opportunity that came with the young Edward.
Despite his age, Edward was a capable leader. He received an excellent education and was ready to rule his people. Many continental reformers would call him “King Josiah” to mark him as a leader who would bring his people back to the word of God.
King Josiah of the Old Testament was the young king who brought his people back to God’s word. His father and his grandfather disobeyed God and worshiped false idols. While overseeing a construction project, the Book of the Law was found. Josiah was astonished at how he and his people had fallen away from the word of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 34:21, we hear Josiah’s cry, “For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.” So they gathered all the people together and made sure everyone would hear God’s word.
Cranmer and Edward wanted the people to know their justification was in Christ alone. Edward put many changes into effect in England so that the English people could understand God’s word. A prayer book and a catechism were crafted so children and families would clearly know how they were saved. This was a shift away from thinking salvation was the work of priests on our behalf.
The coronation ceremony was stripped down from the traditional coronation. Edward was not anointed by the pope but by his godfather, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.
Edward was not a perfect leader. His reign was short, and the succession was not an easy path since he had no heir. But his goal of teaching his people to know the scriptures and to believe that their salvation depended on Christ is also essential for us today.
Jesus is our eternal anointed king. He came to fulfill his Father’s will. In John 5, Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus healed him, demonstrating his power over sickness. But the day he performed this work was the Sabbath, and the Jews thought this work was unlawful. When confronted by the Jews, Jesus showed how he had authority. John 5:21 says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Then Jesus makes a bold gospel proclamation about the word of God in verse 24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” Jesus desires those who follow him to be in the scriptures and hear the gospel.
The Reformation in England and Europe was so important.
We need to hear the word of God.
We need to hear that our sins are forgiven in Christ in our language.
We need to hear that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that we may have life in his name.
In John 5:39, Jesus holds a mirror to the Jews and us when he explains that we miss the meaning of scripture when we think it is only a law or guide for us apart from Christ. We are misled when we read scripture, thinking that we can keep the law apart from Christ. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me.” Jesus is the only hope and salvation.
Scriptures tell us that Jesus is our anointed king. We are heirs with Christ in this kingdom because he has brought us from death to life. We are received as his brothers and sisters because of his great love for us. Jesus Christ, the anointed one, is the true King of the world and has given his life that we may have eternal life in him.