Volume 49, Issue 2 ________________________________Bible Prophecy Ministry

Dying For Jesus

Mark 14:29-31

    But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Matthew 26:34-35

    Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

    Don't you just love Peter? Peter was a rock! Peter's name long ago became etched in Christian history as a man who loved, and believed in the Lord so much that inwardly he was willing to die for Jesus. Peter knew that Jesus was the Son of the living God, the very Christ. Yes, Peter was quite a man.

    Thus when Jesus confided to the Disciples the reality of the prospect that he would become an offense to them, Peter straightway rose to confidently assure Jesus that he would never be offended by his Lord, and though all others may become offended, that he would die for him.

     All the Disciples affirmed themselves unanimously in agreement with Peter's resolve to never deny Jesus, but rather to die for him, even should offense ever come. But Jesus reiterated that they all would lose faith in him, not just someday, but on that very particular night. Apparently only Peter was so vociferous about dying for Jesus because only his name is mentioned in the account of that fateful night. Down through the centuries, many people have criticized Peter for the cowardly action that Peter took later on the fateful night of Jesus arrest. Jesus must have been touched by Peter's assertion that he would die for him. Remember Jesus informed Peter that he would deny even knowing him thrice that very night before the cock crowed twice. Remember too, that Jesus could peer out into the coming years and see that Peter later on in his life would indeed die for him. The blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified at Rome. Hegesippus wrote that Nero sought matters against Peter to put him to death. The Historian Jerome records that Peter was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he said he was unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

    Often many times I have listened respectfully to the voice of a person proclaiming that they loved the Lord so much that they too would die for him if the situation ever required it. The opportunity for witnessing and counseling people in the Christian life has often presented me with a response by the person seeking spiritual help that they would die for Jesus. Most proclaim such an assertion with the utmost pride and sincerity. Each time I hear that assertion I reflect back to Peter and surmise that Peter was also quite bold in affirming to the Lord that he would never deny his Lord. And I often myself considered what I myself would do if confronted with persecution, threats, intimidation, and death for my faith in Jesus. I have read with amazement and reverence the accounts of numerous Christian martyrs who died because of their faith in Jesus. The story of Polycarp, who upon being offered a choice between torture and an unspeakable martyrs death, or freedom if would merely recant his faith in Jesus, was stalwart enough in his spiritual life that he chose to die for his Lord, rather than to deny knowing him.

    Christians are suffering all around the world today. Christians are being persecuted, tortured, and killed in Sudan, Indonesia, Somalia, Chad, and many, many other places. These stories break my heart, and make me angry. But they also humble me. One of the most humbling stories I have ever read is a story from “Foxe's Book of Martyrs”. It regards a young married couple that loved the Bible. Recently two men in Saudi Arabia who were thrown into prison for the crime of owning a Bible. It seems that I find such “love for God's Holy Word” all too seldom these days. We as Christians would do well to remember the price many people have had to pay down through the years be able to read or own God's Holy Bible.

    (excerpt from Foxe's Book of Martyrs) Timothy, a deacon of Mauritania, and Maura his wife, had not been united together by the bands of wedlock above three weeks, when they were separated from each other by the persecution. Timothy, being apprehended, as a Christian, was carried before Arrianus, the governor of Thebais, who, knowing that he had the keeping of the Holy Scriptures, commanded him to deliver them up to be burnt; to which he answered, "Had I children, I would sooner deliver them up to be sacrificed, than part with the Word of God." The governor being much incensed at this reply, ordered his eyes to be put out, with red-hot irons, saying, "The books shall at least be useless to you, for you shall not see to read them." His patience under the operation was so great that the governor grew more exasperated; he, therefore, in order, if possible, to overcome his fortitude, ordered him to be hung up by the feet, with a weight tied about his neck, and a gag in his mouth. In this state, Maura his wife, tenderly urged him for her sake to recant; but, when the gag was taken out of his mouth, instead of consenting to his wife's entreaties, he greatly blamed her mistaken love, and declared his resolution of dying for the faith. The consequence was, that Maura resolved to imitate his courage and fidelity and either to accompany or follow him to glory. The governor, after trying in vain to alter her resolution, ordered her to be tortured, which was executed with great severity. After this, Timothy and Maura were crucified near each other, A.D. 304.

    I am reminded of a story of a young man who visited his pastor seeking spiritual help. This young man was a very tough and rugged individual. He certainly would have had no physical problem handling bulllies, but yet he kept finding himself overwhelmed with worldly passions and temptations. When counseled, the pastor questioned the genuineness of his faith in the Lord. Abruptly, this physical giant of a young man brutishly informed the pastor that he would die for the Lord. To which the elderly pastor responded, “then why don't you live for the Lord”?

     The pastor had a good point. The brash young man thought that he was some sort of heroic figure simply because he was willing to die for Jesus. But the pastor had really gotten to the heart of the matter. Living for Jesus was the issue, not dying for him.

    During World War II, General Patton became an icon of valor and inspiration to his army of men. His soldiers admired him and loved serving under him. He was a hard charger and a pull no punches kind of military leader. His men fought valiantly for him because they believed in him. A story is told of him interviewing a young private that staunchly contended that he was as brave as any man, and although timid in battle would not hesitate to die for his country. At first it would seem that the will to die for ones country is as big a contribution that a soldier could ever make for his country. But General Patton submitted that he didn't need soldiers to die for their country, he required soldiers that would fight for their country and to inflict death upon the soldiers of the enemy. His crude reply was to let the other countries soldiers die for their country, “I don't need soldiers to die for me, I need soldiers alive and marching forward to victory”. So, General Patton wanted and needed fighters, not corpses. General Patton needed strong, dedicated live soldiers to take the battle to the enemy.

    And so as it in the Christian battle. Jesus does not need anybody to die for him. Jesus came to earth and died once for the all of the sins of all of man-kind. Living he loved us, dying he saved us. While it is certainly a consequence of living for Jesus that many Christians have suffered martyrdom, their dying for Jesus is not a prerequisite for sainthood. The persecution and or death of any Christian martyr is always awe inspiring, and a tremendous testament to their faith. While the tragic deaths of the martyred millions of Christians down through the centuries speaks volumes about the love of Christ, so also does the exemplary lives of stalwart Christians that have stood in the gap as living monuments of Christ love. So, while we often admire the willingness of fellow Christian to die for Jesus, we must always realize that Jesus needs stalwart Christian soldiers to live for him! Many times in this evil infested world it is more difficult to live for Jesus than to die for him. When I think of the young man that was willing to die for Jesus, and reflect on the pastor's response I surmise that it was much more of a struggle for that young man to live for Jesus. Yet that is precisely what he needed to do. And that is precisely what the Lord needs many of his soldiers to do. There is a song entitled, “Onward Christian Soldiers” that speaks to the heart of this topic. The Christian soldiers in the song are depicted as marching forward into battle with the cross of Jesus going on before. Jesus instructed us as Christians to take up his cross, and by dying to ourselves, live for him, thereby showing others the way to overcome the world. Because the Lord needs living soldiers, he gave numerous instructions to his followers as to how best to be able to fight the good fight.

    Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Ephesians 6:14-18 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

    Sometimes these spiritual weapons of warfare can be hard to master. But still we need them to be able to live for Jesus in this world. How could we ever claim the heroism of dying for Jesus if we cannot accomplish living for him? As Christians we have to struggle in a world that is certainly not conducive to the maintenance of these spiritual arts. To live for Jesus while in this world, a Christian needs to equip himself with the truth of God's word, erect a defensive perimeter of righteousness, grow in his faith, and develop an acute knowledge of the Gospel and the rely wholly on the Holy spirit for understanding and wisdom. To appropriate these facilities within ones life, the Christian needs to utilize the spiritual weapon of prayer, and persevere in prayer in accordance with the word. The better equipped a soldier of Christ is, the more likely it is that he can avoid the ambushes laid by the enemy and thus live expeditiously for the Lord.

     Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

    Our struggle in this life is a spiritual encounter. As Christians trying to live for Jesus we can expect to be opposed by mighty spiritual forces of the supernatural world. We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers and rulers of darkness in high places. Therefore if we rely solely on our fleshly strengths we are sure to succumb to the enemies that lie in wait to confound us. That is why the letter to the Ephesians instructed them to “put on the whole armor of God”. So then if we equip ourselves with this body of armor, and lean upon the spirit of God, we can march through life with a confidence and expectation that all things indeed work together for good for those who love the Lord. Whether it be in life or even in death.

     II Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Phillipians 1:20-21 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

    Galations 5:24-25 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    Yes, Peter was quite a man. Yes, poor old Peter has received a great deal of scorn and criticism down through the years for claiming that he would die for Jesus on that fateful night when the Lord was arrested. But it should be remembered that Peter went on to live out a life of full service for Jesus. Peter learned how to live and fight in the Lord's army. While Peter was certainly boisterous about his love for Jesus prior to the cross, Peter simply was not equipped at that point to die for Jesus. But after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Peter discovered a new boldness that defied human fears and fleshly weakness. Undoubtedly Peter experienced a very personal humiliation because of his denial of Christ. And when remembering how Jesus personally informed him that he would lose faith and deny him before the cock crow, Peter was most certainly humbled, and obviously thereafter diligently sought to become better equipped with power from on high to live his life as Jesus had taught him to do. Out of his great love for Jesus, Peter discovered what it meant to “die to self”, or to be crucified to the flesh and enlivened by the spirit of Christ. Only after Christ was living within Peter was he able through the spirit to live for Jesus. When I think of Peter today, I am not caught up in the fact that he denied Jesus, and cowardly backed away from acknowledging that he even knew him. I am reminded that Peter “first” lived for Jesus, instead of dying for Jesus. I think of the wonderful testimony and witness that Peter became after the betrayal. None of that would have happened had Peter not learned how to “live for Jesus”.

    Galations 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

     Romans 14:7-8 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

    Today when I now recall the proud young man telling his pastor that he would “die for Jesus”, I can't help but think of the pastor' wise response, if you are willing to die for Jesus, “then why don't you live for Jesus”! It is only when one comes to the point where he has died to his own agenda that he can live or die for Jesus. Jesus said: he who would follow me must first deny himself, then take up the cross and follow me. (Mathew 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.) I think that is often the problem. We find it difficult to deny ourselves. Oh yes, we can brag about our love for Jesus because of what he has done for us, but when it comes to taking up his cross without being equipped with the right spiritual weaponry, we find that it is simply too hard to live for Jesus. That's one reason that I am glad that I don't serve a lord that absolutely requires me to die for him, for him to love me. Oh yes, it is often a sad consequence that out of “living for Jesus” that a Christian comes face to face with persecution, or being put to death because of his love for Jesus. But mere love for Jesus won't sustain one in that moment.

    It is only Christ living in us, and his spirit sustaining our living for him that causes a Christian to die well when faced with the onslaught of the enemy.

Author: Darrell G. Young

Would you die for Jesus?
Are you living for Jesus?

Living For Jesus

1. Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee; for thou in thine atonement didst give thyself for me; I own no other master, my heart shall be thy throne; my life I give henceforth to live, O Christ for thee alone.

2. Living for Jesus who died in my place, bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace, such love constrains me to answer his call, follow his leading and give him my all.

3. Living for Jesus through earths little while, my dearest treasure, the light of his smile, seeking the lost ones he diesd to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in him.

Words by Thomas O. Chisholm 1917



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