The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face. Jesus was persecuted for us, can we deal with persecution for him. Here is some help. Here is one statement of Jesus to get you started:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus said to rejoice when we’re persecuted. Persecution can be good because (1) it takes our eyes off earthly rewards, (2) it strips away superficial belief, (3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and (4) our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. We can be comforted to know that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel). The fact that we are being persecuted proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed by Satan. God will reward the faithful by receiving them into his eternal kingdom where there is no more persecution. Jesus prepared us for persecution.
Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.
We will experience these hardships, not only from without (governments, courts), but also from within (friends, family). Living for God often brings on persecution, wut with it comes the opportunity to tell the good news of salvation. In times of persecution, we can be confident because Jesus has “overcome the world”.
Remember when the religious leaders questioned the blind man. The man’s NEW faith was severely tested by some of the authorities. He was cursed and evicted from the synagogue. Persecution may come when we follow Jesus. We may lose friends; we may even lose our life. But no one can ever take away the eternal life that Jesus gives us.
Remember when the mourners began to laugh at Jesus when he said, “The child is not dead but asleep.” Jesus tolerated the crowd’s abuse in order to teach an important lesson about maintaining hope and trust in him. Today, most of the world laughs at Christ’s claims, which seem ridiculous to them. When we are belittled for expressing faith in Jesus and hope for eternal life, remember that unbelievers don’t see from God’s perspective. Jesus tells us about the future.
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
We may not be facing intense persecution now, but Christians in all parts of the world will. As you hear about Christians suffering for their faith, remember that they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for them. Ask God what you can do to help them in their troubles. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. But when all the parts join together to ease the suffering the whole body benefits.
Jesus predicted that his followers would be severely persecuted by those who hated what he stood for. In the midst of terrible persecutions, however, they could have hope, knowing that salvation was theirs. Times of trial serve to sift true Christians from false or fair-weather Christians. When we are pressured to give up and turn our back on Christ, don’t do it. Remember the benefits of standing firm, and continue to live for Christ.
Remember that we as His disciples all declared that we would die before disowning Jesus. A few hours later, however, we all scattered. Talk is cheap. It is easy to say we are devoted to Christ, but our claims are meaningful only when we are tested in the crucible of persecution. Jesus put it this way:
You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.
It is easy to say we will endure anything for Christ, and yet most of us complain over the most minor problems. If we say we are willing to suffer on a large scale for Christ, we must also be willing to suffer the irritations that come with serving others. That’s how we are prepared for the big stuff. And Jesus told us why this must be:
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Since the time of Christ, Christians have been persecuted in their own lands and on foreign mission fields. Though you may be safe from persecution now, your vision of God’s kingdom must not be limited by what happens only to you. A glance at any news will reveal that many Christians in other parts of the world daily face hardships and persecution. Persecutions are an opportunity for Christians to witness for Christ to those opposed to him. These persecutions serve God’s desire that the gospel be proclaimed to everyone. Jesus prepares us when he said:
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.
Jesus warned that in the coming persecutions his followers would be betrayed by their family members and friends. Christians of every age have had to face this possibility. It is reassuring to know that even when we feel completely abandoned, the Holy Spirit will stay with us. He will comfort us, protect us, and give us the words we need. This assurance can give us the courage and hope to stand firm for Christ no matter how difficult the situation.
Jesus says that none of his followers who maintain their faith through persecution will suffer spiritual or eternal loss. On earth, everyone will die, but believers in Jesus will be saved for eternal life.
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