This past sunday I concluded my sermon, “Faith and Peace” with the story of Bartholomew Millon.  He was burned at the stake as a straightened soul in a deformed in body.  And now he walks in the uprightness of Jesus Christ.

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Bartholomew Millon had once been the man’s man of Paris.  He was said to have been the most handsome man in all of Paris.  But it wasn’t just his dashing good looks for which other men followed him. He was strong.  He was a fighter.  He was the ringleader.  He was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Paris.  People followed him.  Anything he wanted he got.  He didn’t deny himself anything that his heart wanted.  Hollywood would have loved this man.

And on top of his brawn, he had a sharp mind.  One writer said he was ready at all times to deal a blow with his powerful arm, or let fly a sarcasm with his sharp tongue.  This man had it all.    But as I introduced him, he had once been the man’s man of Paris, but he was no longer.

We’re not sure how it happened, whether he was in a street fight, or whether in was in some sporting event, but Bartholomew fell and broke a couple of his ribs, and rather than getting medical attention, he decided to tough it out.  After all, he was the man!

But time wore on, and he wore out.  Those broken ribs never healed right, and he suffered all sorts of complications as his body withered away.  Finally he found himself sitting day after day in his shoemaker’s shop.  His stately form was now bent, his legs were paralyzed, and bitterness oozed from his crooked grin.

Everyone who entered his shop heard his wicked tongue lashing out at the protestants who thought to foolishly reform the church.  Then one day a Lutheran happened to be walking by the shop, when Millon began one of his expletive laden rants.  The man stopped to see who it was that was spewing such filth.  And then he saw the cripple and had compassion on him.

He went up to Millon and said to him, “Poor man, don’t you see that God has bent your body in this way in order to straighten out your soul?”  the Lutheran then gave him the New Testament to read.  For the next several days, Millon devoured this beautiful and majestic book.  And he discovered in the Word that not only was his soul was even more deformed than his body, but there was also a most powerful Physician that could heal even his soul.

The wretchedness of sin that perverted his crippled form was removed from him and in its place a joy and a peace welled up within him.  The wolf had become a lamb.  People began to come to his shop, not for shoes to comfort their feet, but for songs of praise to comfort their hearts.  Children who were once kept at a distance from him by their parents, were now brought to him to learn of the grace of God.

Then on November 10th of 1534, an officer of the king entered into his house because he was one of the heretics of the protestant church.  And the king’s officer in arresting Bartholomew Millon, a cripple, wholly helpless in body, said to him “Come, get up.”

To which Millon replied, “Alas! sir, it must be a greater master than you to raise me up.” The sergeants carried him out, but so full of peace and holy courage was Bartholomew, that his companions in prison grew firm through his exhortations.  Words of peace and kindness were the only things to come from his lips that day.  Formerly, when lifted by his friends, he felt pain in every limb, but the Lord in great mercy took that sensitiveness away, so that in prison he used to say, “the roughest handling seemed tender.”  He was burned at the stake as a straightened soul in a deformed in body.  And now he walks in the uprightness of Jesus Christ.

Millon apparently became the first martyr in the Year of the Placards, the event that sought to purge Protestantism from France.

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