Reflection for Wednesday 23rd November 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection for Luke 21: 12-19 Psalm 98 Revelation 15: 1-4 Nov 23

Luke 21
12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
13 This will result in your being witnesses to them.
14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.
15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
17 All men will hate you because of me.
18 But not a hair of your head will perish.
19 By standing firm you will gain life.

Jesus says, “You will be witnesses.”
You will be able to witness to everyone. Those in your church. Those in prisons. Anyone who persecutes you. But be sure not to worry about how you are going to defend yourself. The Holy Spirit will give you the words. He will give you wisdom so that no one will be able to resist or contradict the Good News of Jesus. Maybe your relatives and friends will not like what you are saying. Some will even hate you for it. And some of you will be put to death.

Death! What was that you said? Did I hear that right? Oh… Umm… This doesn’t sound so good now.

Well, that was what Jesus told his disciples. And many of them did die. Some in the barbaric ways that were invented to “teach people a lesson”. In the news recently those protesting against the Islamic Regime in Iran are being put to death. In the past, the religious leaders have done that to women and children as well. In many countries, anyone who does not agree with the leaders, can find themselves executed. That includes Christians who proclaim the Gospel.

Stephen was the first martyr for Christ. He stood up and gave a speech in Acts chapter 7 which so upset the Sanhedrin that they stirred up a mob who took him out and stoned him to death. But as Stephen was dying, he didn’t cry for mercy for himself. Instead, he prayed, “Lord do not hold this sin against those who are stoning me.”
Amazing! And watching Stephen’s martyrdom, was Saul. Saul who later became Paul. And we know from his letters how important his conversion was to the early church.

When we think about why we believe in Jesus, one reason has to be that those who witnessed Jesus’ life, crucifixion and then his risen life, were prepared to die for what they knew. They had seen God here on earth!

So, back to the “Some of you will be put to death.” Would we still proclaim the Gospel or would we decide it is not worth it? Let’s hope we never have to be put to that test. The important question for each of us is how much are we prepared to show our faith to others, or do we only have a personal faith that doesn’t risk upsetting anyone?

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.