For three happy years Zwingli stayed in his “wilderness” at Einsidlen. But, just like Moses in his Midian wilderness, when God saw that Zwingli was ready He called him to a larger, more important work.
Zwingli Goes to Zurich
From peaceful Einsidlen, Zwingli was called to the busy, crowded streets of Zurich – Switzerland’s chief city. The cathedral at Zurich was looking for a new priest and when one of Zwingli’s best friends heard about it, he quickly recommended that they hire him.
The people of Zurich were excited when they heard that Zwingli was being considered as their priest. Many of them had heard Zwingli preach when they went on pilgrimage to Einsidlen and they were thrilled at the thought of hearing his wonderful sermons every week.
It was a sad yet proud day for the people of Einsidlen when Zwingli was hired by a majority vote. They may be losing their beloved priest, but they were happy that his influence would be felt in Zurich. On January 1, 1519 – his thirty-fifth birthday – Zwingli began his official duties.
Zwingli’s Job Description: Fundraiser
One of the first things that he did was to meet with his superiors. They reminded Zwingli that his most important task was to collect all the money that he could from confessionals, masses, illnesses, and offerings. He was told that he was only to perform masses, weddings and funerals for the wealthy and educated people.
Preaching from the Bible, Something New
Zwingli wisely did not contradict his superiors, but instead told them that he would begin at once to preach from the Gospel of Matthew. He would take it chapter by chapter, verse by verse and teach the people from the Bible alone – without using any of man’s ideas to explain the Scriptures. When the committee argued that this was a new way of teaching, Zwingli assured them that he was only following the ancient footsteps of early church fathers such as Augustine and Chrysostom.
Zwingli dwelt on the beauty of a merciful, forgiving Father in heaven and invited the people to trust in Jesus, the great Sacrifice. Zwingli spoke out against those living in luxury – with their fine food, costly garments, and idleness – while the poor worked long hours for barely enough money to survive. He held up the meek and lowly Jesus as their example.
Faithful to the Word of God
People crowded into the cathedral to hear Zwingli’s sermons, but some church leaders saw danger in Zwingli’s teaching. They were afraid that the Reformation taking place in Germany under Martin Luther might come to Switzerland and bring changes to their church. They became Zwingli’s sworn enemies. Zwingli didn’t let their hatred change him one little bit. He treated them in a kindly manner, but he would not change the content of his sermons just to make them happy.
However, Zwingli’s real influence came from the way he lived when he wasn’t preaching. Often he was found visiting the poor, inviting them to eat with him, taking time to explain the Scriptures to them, or playing his lute or violin for the children. Zwingli’s caring spirit was catching. Many of the wealthy people joined him in bringing happiness into the lives of the poor of Zurich. By helping others, they received the blessing of working for Jesus. No wonder people were excited about understanding Scripture and putting it into practice.