You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. Mark 13, verse 9.
Jesus was personally predicting for His best friends what would happen to them. He was fore-telling their fate and telling them that, as they neared their end, for His sake they would be persecuted and tortured. He’s also telling us the same thing. The same thing can happen to us. In some ways, the same thing WILL happen to us. You and I will meet opposition, struggle financially, and likely struggle physically, maybe even violently, for standing by Jesus.
Well isn’t that just great!
Actually, it is. It really is. You see, thinking about torture that way can lead you to think only “all glory to Jesus.” AGTJ if you will. Jesus was telling His friends that they would suffer like He would suffer. In doing that, He was promising them eternal rewards that would fulfill their deepest desires for true communion with God.
So that’s great? Of course it is. You get to have spiritual peace here on earth by being in union with Jesus here, by reordering your life around His priorities and learning to think and act in different ways. Best of all, you get to share that peace in ways you can, in ways He empowers you to do. When this life is done, then you have the peace of knowing Him forever because you get to be with Him in paradise, where there is no sin, no sadness, no anger, no complications to life.
Of course, there’s that whole torture thing. No way around saying it: that sucks. Being flogged: painful; excruciatingly painful. Handed over to the government: terrifying. Standing before the leaders to witness Jesus to them: daunting at best. Seeing your friends and family persecuted, denying you, denouncing you: wrenching. Sometimes the thought of all that makes me feel afraid, and I can honestly say that I fear nobody in this world.
Here’s where I think of Aragon, turning to his friends as they face the armies of Mordor. He smiles, he raises his sword, and he says “for Frodo” before defiantly running towards the battle to do justice on the unjust. I’m no Aragorn; perhaps you aren’t either. But I’m jazzed by the idea of standing for Jesus, of ‘taking it to the man’ who works to keep me down and wants to destroy what I have because I believe in Christ. I was a warrior once and stood tall in ways some may not have imagined; it was all so improbable. Yet, in Christ, I’m a warrior still, armed with His confidence, His words, and His faith. I’m armed with Him and dangerous to any without faith. Devil be damned, I send him on his way. I stand for Jesus and I’m ready to fight. What say you?
So when Jesus predicts that, to follow Him, I will suffer, then like the Apostle Paul I’ll rejoice in those sufferings. Bring it, baby. That’s not gloating. It’s simple faith. And it’s pretty great after all. AGTJ.
Lord, I stand in You. I’ll admit: I’m sometimes afraid of what could happen to me. But I know that You are with me, that You will never put me someplace or in some way beyond what I can bear. Help me to stand. Help me to righteously defy the world for Your sake.
Read Mark 13, verses 1-31.