“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.” (Matthew 16:25a NLT)
A popular church marquis asked a sobering question: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
One of the strongest arguments to me, that Jesus’ words recorded in the Bible are true, is the fate of His original Disciples. The Bible itself reveals the deaths of only two of the original twelve – James, John’s brother, who died by the sword (see Acts 12:1-2) and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). All the others, except John, who died of natural causes, were murdered for their faith.
If you professed belief in a cause and were threatened to be killed if you didn’t recant, what would you do? I realize that’s a tricky question on some levels, but if you knew for a fact that the whole story behind what you believed was a lie, would you die to protect it? I can tell you what I’d do. You could color me gone! No way would I die to protect a lie.
I will concede that there, no doubt, have been people throughout history who have been brainwashed and under the delusion that something was true, that in fact wasn’t, have died for a lie. But I cannot believe that ten men who walked with Jesus and lived with Him for three years, would willingly lay down their lives if they had a shred of doubt that Jesus was anyone except God’s Son, their Savior.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT) says: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it…’” In light of Jesus’ words, consider the fate of the remaining ten disciples:
- Peter – was crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord
- Andrew – was crucified with ropes, not nails, so he hung alive for two days, continuing to preach Jesus to those who passed by
- John – the only one of Jesus’ original disciples to die of natural causes. He was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Revelation. Some accounts say he was released after many years and continued to preach until his death at age 100
- Bartholomew (Nathaniel) – some accounts say he was skinned alive, then beheaded; others say he was whipped until the flesh was torn from his body, then beheaded
- Philip – crucified
- Thomas – stabbed with a spear
- Matthew (tax collector) – impaled to the earth with spears, then beheaded
- James (not John’s brother) – murdered then his body was sawed in pieces
- Jude (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot) – crucified and shot with arrows
- Simon (not Peter) – crucified
*The source of much of this information was https://www.csmedia1.com/thexenaproject.org/week-01-how-the-disciples-died.pdf It also includes the deaths of some of the other New Testament writers.
Do you understand, the criteria for following Jesus haven’t changed? The words of Jesus to His original twelve are still the words He speaks to you and me. Will following Jesus cost us our lives? Yes, it will! In life or in death, Jesus demands all of us, all the time.
There are more people dying for their faith in Jesus today than any other time in history, and the truth is, it’s likely going to get a whole lot worse for believers in Jesus, before it gets better. Whether I live or die is immaterial, I belong to Jesus. I almost wrote: “’til death do us part,” but even death can’t separate me from my Savior. Can I hear a HALLELUJAH!
The only thing that can keep you from Jesus is unbelief. That, in a nutshell, is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – failure to believe He has the power to deliver you from your sin, so you never ask.
Please open your mind and heart to Jesus today. Don’t believe the lies of satan that Jesus isn’t the Savior, the Only way to heaven. Trust Jesus today. Time is literally running out.
Blessings, Ed 😊
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