14 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.— 1 Thessalonians 2:14 NLT
We can talk about a lot of different things and different “gods” and most people may not even pay attention to what we are saying. But when we talk about the Good News, which is “the very Word of God”, we will get some sort of reaction. The Name of Jesus is not neutral and when it is spoken, it requires that a decision be made by the hearer. No response or not accepting is still a decision. If we allow the Word to continue its work in us, we will be persecuted by the worldly factions. Since the Creator was persecuted, even to death, how can we, the creation, expect not to be persecuted?
Paul’s main objective was to preach the Word of God. Yes, he stayed in each new location until he had people in place to take care of the flock, but his heart was always on starting a new work in a new location. Paul isn’t saying new converts don’t need to be baptized, he is saying he has appointed others to do that part of the work. A lot of good pastors have “burned out” by not following Paul’s example and trying to do all the work themselves. A good preacher does not have to be eloquent or powerful in his delivery. What he does have to be, is obedient to the Holy Spirit. In our world today, it is even more apparent that the message of the cross is considered foolishness by those who appear to need it most. The world does not have an answer for Jesus, so they resort to ridicule and abuse of the believers. Jesus said this would happen, so it should come as no surprise to us. But we must remain faithful, knowing that Jesus suffered unto death on a cross. 1 “All this I have told you so thatyou will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.—John 16:1-3 (NIV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.–John 19:25-30 (NLT)
We cannot even begin to imagine the roller coaster of thoughts and emotions that Mary went through as she stood and watched her Son being ridiculed and mocked. He was physically and verbally abused beyond belief. If Mary knew the book of Isaiah then she knew that this death and this type of death was inevitable for her Son. Knowing something, in the human sense, does not necessarily prepare us to see it in actuality. I believe that at this very moment, Mary’s knowledge turned to reality and she now understood Simeon’s prophecy. “And a sword will pierce your very soul”. From sometime Thursday night until 3 PM on Friday, Jesus suffered more than we will suffer in a lifetime. And just as surely as those Centurions drove the actual nails into His hands and feet, our sins drive nails straight into His heart.