Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Jesus was the last word on their lips

The story of the death of Stephen, the first martyr,
may at first seem out of place in the Easter season
until we remember that this took place around 36. A.D.,
only 2-3 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

That quickly, that soon, that early in the history of Christianity
do we find believers being persecuted for their faith
and in many instances,
being put to death for preaching the gospel.

Such a story might put us in mind of those epic movies
where Christians are tortured in the Roman arena
and thrown to the lions to be devoured by them.

Or perhaps it will put us in mind of the 21 young Christian men
put to death on a beach, in Libya – just last year -
in a manner too gruesome to mention with youngsters present.

They were put to death for what they believed
and what they believed
is what you and I will profess that we believe
in just a few minutes when we recite the Creed.
These men died
for the faith, for the Creed we profess every Sunday.

Like Stephen, their last words were words of faith.
As the executioners began their work,
the 21 men cried out, in unison,
“Ya Rabbi Yasou!’” (O My Lord Jesus!)
Jesus was the last word on their lips,
the last thought in their minds,
the last breath in their lungs,
the last beat of their hearts.

And they were not alone.