“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.” Mark 12:13
Since the inception of the Christian Church, mankind has witnessed the blood of martyrs splattered across the pages of history. And although manifested in different forms, Christian persecution persists to this very day: across continents, within countries, in communities, at places of work, within families. How and when did the persecution begin?
It began with Jesus Christ. He died a violent death, put to death on the cross. Why? Because he proclaimed that he was the Son of God, that he was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These were his very words, as witnessed by his apostles, his disciples, and as documented by four separate Gospel writers.
Some of those who heard him may have said: “how brazen, what gall.” The scribes and Pharisees in particular were beside themselves. They rent their clothes. They screamed. They plotted. They got their pound of flesh. They were not followers, but stalkers, trying to catch Jesus in His words, doubting Him from the very start, and at every turn.
But Jesus Christ had followers, and his followers believed in Him. They believed His words, His teachings, and the things He said about Himself. No one comes to the Father except through Him. They cling to this as truth.
How insensitive this view is towards other religions. How politically and sociologically incorrect! Who is this Christ, this carpenter that compels a person to leave everything and follow Him? What sheer madness. Emperors got riled that their subjects adored this Christ, this carpenter, above them. The world is irritated at their peculiar behavior, at the light in their hearts and in their eyes, their faces shining with joy. So the powers fed Christ’s followers to the lions, led them to their deaths at the hands of gladiators. They stoned them and spat upon them. And some they crucified.
Christ polarizes people. Either His claims about Himself were those of a lunatic, or His words are truth. He requires total commitment. Either you believe in Him, or doubt His words. Either you are a follower, a stalker, or something else.
And if a follower, then at this very moment, you share in the fellowship of His sufferings. You become a target for persecution.
By D.G. Vachal © 2012
*** posted at Narita airport, en route to somewhere in Asia