Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jesus Sent Peter and John to be Sacrificed

As I was reading God’s Word today, I misread a couple verses due to my tiredness. The verses actually read: “Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it." (Luk 22:7-8). However, because of the position of the words on the page and my fatigue, I read, “Jesus sent Peter and John to be sacrificed.”

Obviously Jesus was the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed and not Peter and John. But it’s something to meditate on that after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, these disciples were sacrificed for the Lord. Just consider the way Peter and John were sacrificed.

The apostle John was sacrificed
According to Foxe's Book of Martyrs: “From Ephesus [John] was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.”

The apostle Peter was sacrificed
On the night He was betrayed, Peter said to Jesus, "I will lay down my life for You." (Joh 13:37b). Jesus then asked Peter, "Will you lay down your life for Me?" (Joh 13:38). Later after he denied Christ, when Jesus reinstated him, He told him: "'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.' Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He *said to him, 'Follow Me!'" (Joh 21:18-19).

And Fox records of Peter: “Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified…Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.” So Jesus did send both Peter and John to be sacrificed.

But Peter and John were not the only ones to suffer for Christ. Phillip, Andrew, Jude and Simon were also crucified for the Lord. In fact, all of the early apostles were put to death, except John.

The apostle Paul was sacrificed
When Jesus spoke to Ananias to go and lay hands on him to receive his sight back, “The Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Act 9:15-16).

Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.” (Col 1:24). Paul suffered for the sake of Christ’s Body and on behalf of His Body. In doing so, Paul indicated that this was a continuation of Christ’s afflictions. This is in line with Jesus own teaching that if they hated Him they would hate us, and that we would be persecuted for His sake.

The Church
Just as Peter, John, Paul, and the rest of the early apostles were sacrificed, the same is true of the rest of Christ’s Body, the Church. Consider the words Jesus spoke to the Jewish rabbi named Saul of Tarsus, when He appeared to him on the Road to Damascus. “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.’”(Act 9:1-5).

Whenever someone persecutes the Lord’s disciples, they are persecuting Jesus. That is how Jesus could say to Paul, who was persecuting the Lord’s disciples, “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Paul later went on to write to the church in Rome, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1). So we are living sacrifices, according to God’s Word.

Putting it All Together
We know that most of the first apostles were put to death. You can read about it in Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Perhaps John is the only one who lived to an old age, but not without much suffering for the sake of Christ. So in fact, Jesus did send Peter and John to be sacrificed.

It pleased the Heavenly Father to crush his Son (Isaiah 53:10). And that sacrifice was made once for all (Ro 6:10; Heb 7:27; 10:10; 1 Pet 3:8). Never again will Jesus ever be sacrificed! It is finished, as He cried from the cross.

But it also pleased the Father to continue the afflictions of Christ in His Body, as long as it remains on earth until the day Christ returns physically to this world for His chosen ones. This is our portion as disciples of Christ. It was true of even the prophets before Christ. All of them were persecuted and most were put to death.

This world is not our home. We are looking for an enduring city whose Builder and Maker is God. And as Jesus taught us to do, we will rejoice and be glad. He said, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mat 5:11-12)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note Also see my daughter's poem called A Pleasing Sacrifice. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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