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Daily Reading: 8th September 2015

John 16.2-4

2 They will expel you from the synagogue, and the hour comes when those killing you will think they are offering to God a service.

3 And they will do these things because they have known neither the Father, nor Me.

4 But I have spoken these things to you so that when their time comes you might remember that I told you. I did not speak to you about these things from the beginning, because I was with you.

The crucifixion of Jesus was seen by the Jewish authorities as a service that they offered to God. Jesus was seen by them as a dangerous and subversive man, capable of causing political unrest with the Roman authorities. Caiaphas the High Priest obviously believed this. Speaking about the possibility of killing Jesus he said:

49 Now one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest for that year, said to them: “You don’t know anything.”

50 Neither do you consider that it is better for us that one man should die on behalf of the people so that not all of the nation should perish – John 11.49-50.

His prophetic words led the authorities to conceive of a way to assassinate Jesus.

There were schemes to get rid of Jesus from early in His ministry:

And the Pharisees went out immediately, met with the Herodians, plotting against Him, as to how they might kill Him – Mark 3.6.

Throughout His ministry Jesus experienced popularity, but also there was the constant threat of plots to kill Him. Plots devised by those who believed they were doing God’s will.

The disciples also faced the same threats. We may not be totally sure how most of them died, but it is believed that all but John were killed by those who believed they were doing God’s will.

Martyrs are constantly being made by those who believe they are doing God’s will. In Revelation there is special mention of the martyrs of Jesus:

And when He [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had. – Revelation 6.9.

The reality is that those who kill the followers of Jesus are not doing God’s will.

The purpose of God is not to kill His followers, but to give them life. Jesus did not come bearing a sword, other than the sword of the word of God. He does not call His servants to kill other followers of His. The church has yet to learn this, since it has often been guilty of making martyrs of those who disagree with the traditions of men.

Pray for those who face being killed because they are loyal servants of Jesus.

It is often said that religion is the cause of many of the worlds’ problems, and that it has been the cause of numerous wars. There may be some justification for this, if by religion, it is meant the ways in which mankind has distorted the true religion of Jesus.

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