Acts 26:10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
The History Channel’s award winning mini-series “The Bible” was one of the most successful TV series ever watched. Its stunning special effects and great cast of actors and characters made the whole show compelling from beginning to end.
Sales for the recently released DVD have been rocketing and because of this success, the producers intend to make a new series called AD – After the Bible - which will tell the story of the First Christians and the persecutions that they endured. I hope that this proposed series is just as successful, because a lot of Christians today don’t really know (or even want to know) about the harsh conditions that our Faith ancestors experienced.
In today’s passage from Acts 26, the apostle Paul continues to witness before the Roman authorities. He candidly tells them of his murky past and how he once persecuted the sect that he now embraced. It was a courageous thing to do because any of the rulers could have refused to listen to his testimony and just send him on to the Emperor in Rome.
Eventually Paul would reach the Eternal City, as Rome was once called, and make his appeal before Nero. Such audacity would cost him his life and he would be martyred about the same time as Simon Peter, the Big Fisherman, was crucified during Nero’s persecution of the Christians.
As we go about our own business today, we should perhaps stop for a moment and consider the price of the Faith that we freely embrace. Without the courage, tenacity, and perseverance of those First Christian martyrs like Peter and Paul, we would never have known about Christ’s Life, Ministry, Teaching, and Resurrection. May we also remind ourselves that it is our duty to be positively faithful and to also persevere in the midst of a pervading secular culture, which is sadly becoming more indifferent to Christianity as each decade passes. The witness to Christ that we display today, may indeed become the foundation of faith that will be needed in the future.
Questions for personal reflection
What do I know about the First Christians? How has their strong faith affected me?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for the faithful cloud of witnesses who laid down their lives in order to spread the Gospel and expand Your Kingdom. We are grateful for their perseverance in times of persecution and suffering, which enabled them to endure and overcome their unjust and cruel treatment. Keep us mindful of their loyalty to You, and enable us to faithfully witness to Your words and ways in our own current community, culture, and civilization. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment about today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can view and even purchase a copy of the Bible mini-series DVD at the following link: http://amzn.to/17DSfTu