“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” – [Isaiah 53:3-4]
For the sake of conscience and Christ alone, have you ever …
- Changed your career, desires, dreams, life plans and goals?
- Watched your family suffer?
- Suffered financially, physically, and emotionally?
- Lost a “special someone”?
- Walked away from the doors of fame or wealth?
- Been demonized and ridiculed by unbelievers and false brethren?
- Wept because of the heartache you felt from trying to do the right thing?
- Been attacked physically while you were only trying to help save others’ souls?
- Had all that you cherish threatened while receiving more heartache as payment?
- Risked everything for others, only to be mocked and hated for speaking out?
- Edified others only to be made to look vile and reprehensible in return?
- Sacrificed your most valued while being recompensed with infamy?
- Stood against religious overlords in order to follow the Father’s will?
- Been the victim of lies by those who wanted to hide their own evil?
- Suffered hate for fighting man-made traditions and doctrines ?
- Suffered evil for speaking out against popular culture or false teachers?
You are not alone … others have felt the same abuse for the Father. If you have not endured such things, then you can be concerned. After all, GOD’s greatest men endured the same. Much of the Roman masters’ artwork depicting Jesus, and His prophets, apostles, and martyrs as men in fine raiment sitting comfortably or of Paul relaxing at ease in an apartment with pen in hand staring into the atmosphere is less than honest. In truth, these men of spiritual and eternal renown were treated as losers, nomads, traitors, or worse, and more often treated to scars, beatings, and mocking to show for all of their sacrifices and faithfulness to their Master.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. – [Matthew 19:28-30]
Standard practice for the disciples of Jesus for most of the past two thousand years has involved risking not just their friendships or public ridicule or false charges or their jobs and reputations, but their very lives. Today, most believers think that such risks aren’t “spiritually fashionable”. How will they relate with these godly men in heaven?
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
Those who do suffer for Christ will be able to share stories with these men in heaven while others who in this life may have been held in high esteem for either their perceived political or religious positions or success will receive their just recompense and lead an ignoble existence for all eternity.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matthew 5:12
Time would fail for me to speak of all such sufferings, but we can think of the many men who endured the same such as Abel, Noah, Moses, Job, almost all the prophets including Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and all the apostles, and that doesn’t even come close to the body count in the unedited original classic historical account of “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs“. In heaven, those without a story to tell will have difficulty relating to their Master Jesus Christ and these wonderful men who were not popular or well-received in their day.
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watches often, in hunger and thirst, in fasts often, in cold and nakedness.” – [2 Corinthians 11:23-27]
“They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me. Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.” – [Job 30:8-12]
“And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.” – [Mark 6:25]
“And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion fails not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” – [Lamentations 3:18-23]
“And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldst bring down Paul tomorrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.” – [Act 23:20-21]