Scripture: Luke 21:12-19
12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
Meditation: Are you ready to suffer and to shed your blood, if necessary, for your faith? Christianity is a religion of martyrdom. Jesus willingly shed his blood for our sake and he calls us to be martyrs. The word martyr in Greek means witness. The Book of Revelations says that Jesus was the faithful witness ...who freed us from our sins by his blood (Rev. 1:5). Tertullian, a second century lawyer who converted when he saw Christians singing as they went out to die, exclaimed: The blood of the martyrs is seed. Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church. The third century bishop, Cyprian said: When persecution comes, God's soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict. Augustine wrote, The martyrs were bound, jailed, scourged, racked, burned, rent, butchered -- and they multiplied! Why is this the case? The martyrs witnessed to the joy, truth, and freedom of the gospel, by their life, their testimony, and by their blood.
This century has witnessed great destruction and spiritual conflict and has produced more martyrs for the faith than all the others put together! The martyrs win great victory, not only for themselves, but for the whole Christian church. Satan seeks to destroy our faith through the fear of death. The martyrs overcome Satan through their witness to the death. And through their witness many others see the power of the cross and believe the gospel. The martyrs witness to the truth -- the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving plan for the world.
God may call some of us to be martyrs, but for most of us our call is to be dry martyrs who bear testimony to the joy of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord. What attracts others to the gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. He will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you eager to witness to the joy and freedom of the gospel?
"Lord, by your cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me
with joy and confidence and make me a bold witness of your saving truth
that others may know the joy and freedom of the gospel."