Jesus is warning His disciples and us that there will be times when the path will not be so smooth. There will be times when we are mistreated and offended for the Gospel’s sake, but we need to press on. Paul thought he was doing a service for God when he was persecuting and killing Christians. He was walking in darkness but he encountered a powerful Light that changed his life. As long as Jesus was here with the disciples He knew that He would be the target for all the abuse. But now that He was leaving, He knew that He had to reinforce the things He had been teaching them. We need that same encouragement every day in our lives. It is easy for us to become frustrated and want to give up, but we have a friend that sticks closer to us than a brother. He is always with us. As Paul learned after his life-changing event, we must suffer with Christ. There is a cross for each of us to bear. But we must remember and hang onto the conclusion that Paul came to in his journey.
18 The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. 19 Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely.—Romans 8:18,19 NCV
6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again–Philippians 1:6 NCV
Jesus willingly gave His life for each of us. He gave it for those who cursed and persecuted Him as well as for those who followed Him. He did it because of His great love for humanity of all religions and nationalities. It is His desire that everyone be saved. Will everyone accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord? No, but that does not change what Jesus did for us. Once any person accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, should they decide to do that, the Holy Spirit indwells that person. As we progress in following the example of Jesus there is a change in our hearts’ desires and our actions. We are to attempt to live at peace with everyone around us, even with those who curse and persecute us. Is this possible? Yes, or Jesus would not have asked us to do it. When we are mistreated for the sake of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, our response is to love and pray for those that commit the acts. Praying for our persecutors pleases God because we are following the example that Jesus set for us. How they respond to that love and our prayers for them is not in our control. It is ultimately between them and God. If revenge of any sort is necessary, God says that is His responsibility, not ours. So pray for everyone, family, friends, neighbors, cults, religious people, anyone in authority over you in any situation. You can be assured that your flesh is not going to want to pray for some of these people, but God’s Holy Spirit will draw you, teach you, and even do the praying for you if you choose to be obedient.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
With His first answer to the high priest, Jesus receives a slap in the face from one of the temple officials. Thus begins the mockery that is called a trial. This type of questioning and cruel treatment would continue through the night. When the Annas finished questioning Jesus, he bound Him and sent Him to Caiaphas the high priest. Jesus never claimed to be anyone but who He was. He never wavered or changed His story. He understood and accepted the reason He was being mistreated. He is our example of how we should respond when we are mistreated for His name’s sake. No matter how we suffer, if we are called to suffer, Jesus has already been there and worse. He will be there to carry us through. We should remember what Paul wrote to Timothy:
11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.–2 Timothy 1:11,12 (NIV)
We too are appointed as heralds and teachers of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: –2 Timothy 2:11,12 (NIV) We must be ready to die for Him now, if we expect to reign with Him in heaven.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! —1 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV
Paul continues to admonish the Christians at Corinth about their attitude. They are boastful of their salvation as if they had done something to earn it. They have made assumptions and “gone beyond what is written”, even though they have no way of having knowledge that Paul, Apollo, and Peter would not have access to. They mistakenly think that because they are saved, they are already rich and powerful here on earth. Paul contrasts their attitude to the way he, Apollo and Peter think and act. They are mistreated, abused, imprisoned and “made spectacles” for the world and the angels to look upon. They have become fools for Christ’s sake, but the Corinthians are “puffed up”, thinking they are wise. They have given up their honor for the sake of the glory of God. Paul, Apollo, and Peter have become weak so that Jesus might show His strength through their weakness.
They have come to understand what John the Baptist meant when he said: 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”–John 3:30 NIV
And we need to have that same attitude. We can do nothing of heavenly value without Christ but we can do all things through Christ. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.–Phil. 4:13 NIV
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. 4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”–Hebrews 13:1-5 (NLT)
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.–Matt 22:37,38 (NLT)
We must keep on showing our love for Jesus by loving others. We must be kind to others with charitable acts even when we think we can’t afford it. We must pray daily for Christians that are being persecuted around the world. It appears that it won’t be long until we will need those prayers for ourselves. Don’t love money or believe that it will sustain you. We should depend on God for all of our needs, God said “I will never fail you, I will never abandon you”. We should live our lives as if we really believed that. This is what the Lord requires of us: 8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.– Micah 6:8 (NLT)