Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mark 6:14-29 Paying the Ultimate Price for Truth

KEY TEXT: Mark 6:19-20 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

KEY THOT: Being righteous and holy is no guarantee that we will have no enemies. In fact, like John the Baptist, we will have people who will bear a grudge against us when we speak up for truth and may plot our destruction. John paid the ultimate price for standing up for Truth and if we choose to stand up for and with the Truth, we will make enemies. That is why Jesus says we must be prepared to even lay down our lives for our Friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

God has called us to live by the truth of His word, to be righteous and holy. But being righteous and holy is not the pathway to trouble-free life, but trials and tribulation: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Some believers are called to pay the ultimate price for standing up for the truth. Jesus says that before his coming, believers will suffer worldwide persecution: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake” (“Matt 24:9).

The beheading of Christians in Middle-east and North Africa by ISIS jihadists is just the beginning of the “birth pains” that Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:9. ISIS is not a local problem in distant Middle East but is slowly becoming a global one. I will never know if I may be called to pay the ultimate price like John the Baptist, but many Christians in the last days will be called to lay down their lives for the Friend: “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev 20:4). May God grant me His grace to be faithful to the end.

Father, we are living in the last days, when being a Christian and speaking for the Truth can put our lives at risk. May You help us stay close to You in the face of potential danger as we stand up and identify with Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

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