On Persecution-Lent 24, 2015

John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.

Jesus hasn’t really done a bait and switch in verse 4.  He’s just clarified what following is…and what following means.

Jesus has known that He’s not a popular guy with the religious hoity-toities of His day.  He has spoken of this to the disciples, but they didn’t understand.  It didn’t fit with what they were expecting!

Here’s why it wasn’t a bait and switch:

Matthew 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Today’s passage With Christ in the Upper Room must have sent the disciples reeling.

on persecutionThey’re going to be kicked out of the synagogue.  That’s where they’ve always worshiped!

They’re going to be killed, and be victims in honor killings!  To the disciples, marching to their own deaths probably wasn’t what they had in mind when they began following this Rabbi!  And yet now, it’s being proclaimed as the litmus test of truly following.  Dying to self.  Laying down one’s life for friends.  This is not what they likely had in mind.

Jesus didn’t tell them at first because He was with them!  He was protecting them.  But now, as His final preparation, He’s giving them advance warning so they will not fall away from the faith.  They will view it as prophecy fulfilled instead of nothing but shock value.  Remembering this will keep them from going astray when persecution comes.

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Give it Up for Lent: Expectations that demand being top shelf instead of God’s priorities being there

Put it On for Lent: Humbling denying yourself and picking up your cross for Christ

For further thought:

  • Put yourself in the sandals of the disciples for a moment.  They’re confused.  They don’t understand.  They’re worried.  There’s all this talk of death and persecution.  And still lingering in the background is the recurring idea that Jesus is with them now but is going away.
  • What might be some of the questions rolling around your mind?
  • Reread this:  “in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.”
  • We see honor killings all the time in the Islamic world, defending the honor of their god or prophet.  What does this Scripture say about them?

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Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 17, 2015

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