Every year, thousands of Christians around the world are murdered because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord. That statement may seem a bit sensational or even exaggerated, but a quick Google search and a look at who is reporting these statistics will confirm it.
More to the point, Jesus told us it would happen in John 16:2, “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”
Nothing solidifies our priorities more than thinking about what we would die for. Nevertheless, it is difficult to accurately predict how we will really respond when the time comes to lay it all on the line. Peter, for instance, in John 13:37, told Jesus that he would follow him anywhere — even to the point of laying down his life. Not even the fondness and familiarity that came with following Jesus for three years, however, kept Peter from eventually denying Jesus three times.
Roughly 33 years later, Peter did lay down his life for Jesus in the city of Rome. What made the difference? What made the same man who wouldn’t admit to knowing Jesus boldly proclaim Him before the city of Rome and willingly die for his Master? Without any doubt, it was the resurrection of Jesus that transformed Peter.
Peter, crushed by guilt, mourned the death of Jesus and experienced first hand His forgiveness after seeing him raised from the dead. That one fact, that the grave could not hold his Savior, made everything else that Jesus said worth staking his life on. That one fact and our willingness to let it change our perspective is the thing that will transform us from Jesus’ acquaintances to actual disciples and, perhaps, one day into one of his martyrs.
- How does the thought of laying down your own life for Jesus change your perspective on your day-to-day existence?
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:31. How do we prepare ourselves for something like Peter faced?
- Do you think we will ever see the kind of persecution here that other Christians in the world experience? Why or why not?