May 22, 2014, 10:55 AM
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." 1 Peter 1:24-25 Article 302
After the resurrection, it was important for our Lord Jesus to assemble His bewildered and scattered disciples. They had been terribly shocked at His cruel death on the cross that each had gone about his own business, in a bid to start a new life all over again. We must remember that they had been eye-witnesses to the crucifixion of their Master, an event which had put a question mark on the very person of Jesus and His claims.
Nothing therefore could have convinced them that Jesus had been truly raised from the dead. That is the reason He had targeted Peter the team leader - the one on whom His church was to have been built. "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (hell) will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)
Another member of the group that our Lord Jesus had targeted was His brother James. James had mocked in disbelief at his brother's God-given power to perform miracles. "For even His own brothers did not believe in Him" (John 7:5) In fact at one point the whole family thought something was seriously wrong with Jesus to the extent that they would go looking for Him. (Matthew 12:46)
Not until after His resurrection did things begin to fall in place. When it became very clear that the predictions over his death were founded and that things had happened just as He said they would did James truly believe who Jesus, his brother was. From then he braved every obstacles, threat and opposition from the established Jewish authorities to dedicate himself to preaching the good news. He did not have to go very far, he established himself in
James became a very vibrant mouthpiece of the post resurrection era and in the establishment of the church. His unbelief had metamorphosed into an open conviction to confess Jesus as Lord. It was not in an obscure city that James preached the good news of Jesus' resurrection but in a city like
In retrospect, there was not a single disciple who, after having witnessed Jesus' death and resurrection, could have remained timid and fearful as was the case when they took cover in the Upper Room for fear for their lives during the crucifixion. When the truth became evident that Jesus was Lord, and that He had conquered death, not only did they banish doubt but they were ready to brave any circumstances even to the point of death because of their convictions.
The life of the disciples changed because there was no shadow of doubt that Jesus had risen from the dead and that He was Someone worth dying for. Hardly would someone die for a lie, not to mention the Eleven who all died for what they believed, and firmly at that.
At Jesus' resurrection Judas, one of the disciples, had already committed suicide. Utterly dissatisfied with his atrocious and shameful act for having betrayed "innocent blood," Judas had gone ahead to put an end to his life. In contrast however, the remaining Eleven are going to lay down their lives because of what and in whom they believed.
All of the Eleven except for John who died a natural death and Matthew and James, the son of Zebedee who died by the sword, Thaddaeus with arrows, Thomas by a spear and James, the brother of Jesus who was stoned, all the other disciples died by crucifixion just like their Master, Jesus.
In the 21st century, there is little one would like to die for. Nothing is of a lasting nature. Kings and their kingdoms have fallen and have become history. All around us is fiction and make-believe, life is fleeting and except and until our faith is anchored on the Word of God will this transitory phase in this world be worth living for. We have a Redeemer in the Lord Jesus Christ, a Saviour and Mediator whose blood gives life and hope to all who call upon His holy name.
It was his ultimate sacrifice for sin on the cross of
We believe in Him because "He is the Way and the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6)