No Denying

Of course, Resurrection Sunday had me thinking about Jesus rising from the grave. 

 

It’s the most glorious, amazing event in all of human history. There is no other event in all of humanity that has changed the course of human history more than that one empty tomb.

 

Nothing. 

 

If Jesus had not risen from the grave, He would have been forgotten as a nut-case who claimed to be the Son of God but turned out to be just another blaspheming heretic. 

 

But that’s not what happened.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed to world because Jesus did actually rise from the grave and He was actually who He said He was — the very Son of God.

 

And this is verifiable because large crowds of people saw Him after He rose from the dead and His disciples were eye-witnesses to His ministry, His death, and His resurrection.

 

The 13 apostles were the world’s first missionaries to the Christian faith. (The original twelve disciples, minus Judas, plus Matthias, plus Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus.) They traveled all over the known world of the time, telling people about Jesus even though they were often tortured and all but one of them was killed in the process. 

 

They were told by rulers and authorities wherever they went to stop preaching about Jesus, but not one of them denied Jesus or stopped preaching the Gospel. 

 

James the brother of John is the only apostle whose cause of death is given in the Bible: 

It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. Acts 12:1-2 (NIV)

 

The deaths of the other apostles are sometimes recorded in other texts, or sometimes come to us through tradition.

 

Peter is said to have been crucified upside down in 64 A.D. by Emperor Nero. It is said Peter asked to be crucified upside down as he did not consider himself worthy of dying in the same manner as Christ.

 

Andrew is said to have been crucified on an X-shaped cross in the Greek city of Patras in 60 A.D. Legend has it that he preached the Gospel for three days while bound (not nailed) to this cross before he died.

 

Paul is generally accepted to have been beheaded by Nero sometime prior to 68 A.D.

 

Thomas is said to have died in Mylapore, India, on July 3, 72 AD after being pierced with a spear.

 

Matthew was most likely slain in Nadabah, Ethiopia, in 60 A.D. with a halberd (battle axe.) He could have also been burned, stoned, stabbed, or beheaded.

 

James, the brother of Jesus, may have been pushed off the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem while preaching the Gospel, then beaten with a club and finally stoned to death. Or, he may have been crucified in the city of Ostrakine in Egypt. There is some controversy here.

 

Jude is said to have been killed with an ax in Syria after commanding demons to come out of idols.

 

Simon the Zealot’s death has multiple possibilities: He may have been crucified in Samaria, martyred in 65 A.D. in Persia, or in 61 A.D. in Britain, or sawed in half at some unknown location and time.

 

Matthias (the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot) may have been stoned by cannibals in Aethiopia (Georgia) or stoned by Jews in Jerusalem and then beheaded.

 

Philip’s death is hard to document. It appeared he died around 80 A.D. in the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis –possibly by being beheaded, or stoned, or being crucified upside down.

 

Bartholomew was said to have been beaten, crucified, skinned alive, and then beheaded –or some combination thereof.

 

The apostle John is said to have been the only one to have died of old age, but he had no easy life by any means. It is said he took care of Jesus’ mother, Mary, just as he promised at the cross. After Mary died, he then moved to Ephesus, where he wrote his three epistles. Tertullian, a Christian writer from the late second and early third century, wrote that John was brought into a coliseum and dunked in a vat of boiling oil. When he emerged unharmed, the entire coliseum converted to Christianity. He was then exiled to the mines on the island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Eventually, he made it back to Ephesus and died an ordinary death sometime after 98 AD.

 

The point is that all of these people experienced amazing cruelty and not one of them denied Jesus. Had the resurrection of Jesus been a clever lie they made up to justify their previous involvement with Jesus, it is absolutely inconceivable that all of them would have stuck to that lie while enduring the kind of hideous cruelty they suffered. Every one of them remained faithful to the point of torture and death rather than renounce Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and Messiah.

 

And that brings me to the missionaries God has put in my life. Over just the past five years, through events I would have never dreamed of prior to simply saying, “Lord, I will go where you lead me,” I have been blessed and honored to have had over a hundred pastors and missionaries come into my life that I had never know before. I count these people as dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Many of them have been pulled out of the countries where they were serving and brought back home because of COVID19. Their hearts ache to go back out into the mission field and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their hearts ache because those people, many of whom live on less than a dollar a day, have had their income drastically reduced far below that. Their hearts ache because people they love are suffering.

 

Many of the pastors the Lord has put in my life are struggling to adjust to bringing the Gospel to their flocks and the nation via social media or any safe means possible. They are working extra hours to find ways to minister to the people the Lord has charged them with. 

 

But even through all that is going on, there is this underlying feeling, almost a knowledge, that the ground is being prepared for a crop. It’s like, as we are all shut in our homes away from each other, there is this waiting –this anticipation that when we are all released from our chains of exile and isolation, a glorious new crop of believers is going to burst forth. 

 

We see the signs, though you have to look for them. There are reports that more people are attending church online than ever attended in person. There is a renewed interest in things spiritual. Bibles are selling at a record pace all over the country.

 

So, out of this situation no one would have chosen for ourselves, hearts and minds and souls are being softened and prepared for what is to come. Idols have come crashing down. There are flowers waiting to come up and the cold snow is beginning to melt away.

 

And yes, I count my brothers and sisters at Kinship Christian Radio as missionaries also, as they are working to bring the Gospel to anyone who has a radio or an internet connection anywhere in the world. 

 

Let us not forget to pray for all who bring the Good News to the world. Let us not forget to pray that the Holy Spirit would move in great power to bring a new time of awakening, repentance, and revival.

 

Today’s Praise

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:15 (ESV)

 

(Thanks to Ryan Nelson, who wrote an excellent piece on the fates of the apostles here: https://overviewbible.com/how-did-the-apostles-die/)

 

 

1 reply
  1. John
    John says:

    Please pray for a Pastor missionary friend who is having difficulties with spouse who is dealing with dark depression.
    Thank you.

    Reply

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