A Bad Hair Day?

bad hair day

Remaining in the Olivet discourse, Jesus’ teaching on “the end”,  mainly working from Luke.  Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.   Jesus is teaching in AD 30, by the 60s, this was all coming true.   Wars and civil wars, Jewish uprising and revolt, a great earthquake in 63, a plague, crop failure in Egypt which led to famine in some parts, assassinations and coup attempts, and don’t forget a decade later the eruption of Mt Vesuvius!!   How many signs could you want??

christian-persecution-first-century

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.   Never forget that Jesus was talking to a specific audience here.   He was talking to his disciples, those who had been following throughout his ministry.  Those who had witnessed firsthand the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the long awaited Messiah of Israel.   Again, what Jesus is telling his disciples would happen to them and in the world around them, happened.   Ever hear of the book of Acts?  That is exactly what Jesus is referring to in this passage.  But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake.   In the 30s, 40s, 50s, before the wars, rumors of wars, and tumults of the 60s, the book of Acts tells us exactly of all these things happening.  It tells the stories of Peter and Paul being arrested, persecuted, and brought before kings and governors.  It tells of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, being dragged before the council, giving witness which none of his adversaries could withstand or contradict – “And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Acts 6:12-15 ESV.  Stephen gave an eloquent witness that  those opposed to him could not stand, so just as Jesus said, he was put to death with the approval of Saul of Tarsus, who maybe in part because of the witness given that day by Stephen had his own conversion and encounter with the risen Christ.

pauls-three-testimony-sun-27-sept-15-5-638

Speaking of Saul, also named Paul, it was he and Peter who went about spreading the Gospel, the leaders of the movement called “the way”.   They were going through the land, Paul to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews.  They were witnessing and preaching about the Lord Jesus Christ, being hauled before synagogues, Sanhedrin, Jewish courts, brought before the Roman governors.  They are giving eloquent witness to Lord Jesus Christ.   They are being persecuted and arrested, making escapes and being lowered from baskets under the dark of night, and giving witness and spreading the Gospel.   Peter being arrested and freed.  James being executed.  Paul going before the governors Felix and Festus, ultimately making his appeal to Caesar.

hated for jesus name

Ultimately, both are arrested and executed by Nero sometime in the 50s, Peter by upside down crucifixion, Paul being beheaded.  Because, as Jesus had told them, some of you they will put to death.  You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.  This is interesting, that they might be put to death, but not a hair of your head will perish.   So at least they might die on a good hair day!   Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Jesus was talking about.  By your endurance you will gain your lives.   Paul and Peter, James and Stephen, do we somehow think that they somehow died falling short of becoming all they could have become because their lives were cut short by execution?   Maybe, they didn’t fulfill their potential, never became all they could have been?  NO!  To this day, we name our sons Peter and Paul.  We name our dogs Nero.  Not a hair on their heads perished, by their endurance they gained their lives.  They lived some of the most significant lives in history, because they walked in obedience to their Lord Jesus Christ.

some of you will be put to death

He told them what would happen, and they did it anyway.  Just like Jesus knew what was coming in Jerusalem, but he went anyway.   We know that the world around is becoming increasingly hostile, some would say dangerous, to our message. Are we going to sit in a circle, inside our locked panic rooms, telling each other how bad it is out there?  Or are we going to carry the message, knowing what might come?   Really, what are we threatened with, anyway?   A little social discomfort, maybe someone won’t like us because we believe in Jesus Christ?    Maybe they’ll hurt our feelings?

Old-Sparky

Somehow, I don’t think we are facing ol’ sparky for our faith.  Do we believe and trust Jesus enough to go into the world knowing our economic security might be threatened?  Do we trust Him enough to be made uncomfortable, even for a few minutes?   We might even have to endure a bad hair day.  But ask Peter and Paul.  They might tell you it’s worth it.

peter and paul

“Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” Luke 21:10-19 ESV

John Lewis

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