The events that capture our thoughts at this season often prompt us to remember history past. We focus on the Person and the places that dramatically changed the world. We wonder what it was that caused people 20 Centuries ago to be so committed in the early days of Christianity. The depth of commitment of the early Chris- tian leaders is remarkable beyond our understanding. Consider the following:
St. Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopa.
St. Mark expired at Alexandria, after having been cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
St. Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
St. John was put into a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
St. Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward. St. James the Greater was beheaded in Jerusalem.
St. James the Less was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
St. Phillip was hanged up against a pillar at Heiropolis in Phrygia. St. Bartholomew was flayed alive.
St. Andrew was bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died.
St. Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
St. Jude was shot to death with arrows.
St. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
St. Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
St. Paul after various tortures and persecutions was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.
These early disciples and leaders of Christianity had met Someone, heard what He said, witnessed His betrayal, arrest, trial, rejection, crucifixion and resurrection. Their lives were so changed. Their faith was so fixed. Their love was so deep.
Would anyone living in those troubled times and circumstances have been willing to die for what they knew to be a lie? Could they have endured such terrible and painful pressure, and even give their lives in death for what they knew was false? A thousand times “NO!” Christ was alive…without doubt.
Those who loved and followed Christ did so with steadfast dedication. They did not love merely in word, but indeed as well. They literally sealed with their life what they professed with their lips.
Looking at Christ’s sacrificial love and monumental resurrection was motivation to cause them to say with Isaac Watts “Loved so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” (When I Survey)
It’s not just how we come to the Cross and the Empty Tomb, it’s how we leave them.
Would we today follow Christ in such a sacrificial manner? Would history record our dedication like those martyrs in the beginning? If we are not living for Him today we will certainly not die for Him tomorrow.
Let’s be ready now and in all the days ahead to let others see the depth of our commitment and the price we are willing to pay in knowing and following Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain