Just Give Up on Jesus

Before Paul was an Apostle he was Saul a Pharisee and persecutor of Christ followers. Later in his ministry Paul tells us about his violent opposition to the name of Jesus and his encounters with believers.

Jan Luiken (1649-1712) etchings in the Martyrs Mirror
I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord's people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities. (Acts 26:9-11)
This is part of what Paul said standing in court before the Roman authorities. He tells the court that he tried to get the followers of Jesus to denounce Jesus. To publicly turn away from him and his resurrection. Some did, but some didn't, and he goes on to say that he had those who wouldn't denounce Jesus, killed. "I tried to make them give up their faith" but they wouldn't even under the threat of death.

Perhaps for Paul watching these believers die over and over again, unwilling to say Jesus was not the Messiah, was one of the things that sat uneasy with his intellect and reason. It didn't make sense, why wouldn't they just give up on this guy and save their own lives.

So many of these followers could not give in even in the face of death. They knew Jesus. They saw his miracles. They saw his empty tomb and perhaps even were among those who saw him after he came out of the tomb. They knew he had to be God's son. They knew in their minds and hearts. Their lives had been changed. Their feelings of guilt were gone. They acted different. They were different people. How could they turn away from their God? Maybe for Paul seeing this over and over again as he tried to compel and even beat these followers into giving up on Jesus as the Messiah, he began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah. Then Jesus spoke directly to Paul and his mad, violent, upside down world was turned around. His obsession was gone. He completely understood now why. He knew Jesus. Everything changed.

Here is how Paul describes this encounter as he stands before King Agrippa.
"On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'

"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?'

"'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' (Acts 26:12-18)

The partial image above in this post is from an etching in a book published in 1660 titled The Martyrs Mirror. Jan Luiken (1649-1712) made the etchings in the Martyrs Mirror. Note the man standing off in the background. This is Saul also known as Paul.

20 comments:

  1. Hopefully this is not a double submit. I was typing away, and then my comment just disappeared! I'll try again...

    Don't you just love it when God uses multiple sources to "drive home" a point. I have had that experience over the past week or so.

    My son and I are reading a book about a man in Russia and his family during the time that Christianity was illegal. It made me really ponder my ability to stand up for my beliefs and just how it might be hindered by being a "spoiled American". I had been thinking about it a lot.

    First, there was the book. Then, there was the sermon this past Sabbath. After that, conversation with fellow church members and friends. Now, there is your post.

    For me, the message is, "Be prepared." We can never know when we may be forced to stand for our belief in Christ. We may never be forewarned of the consequences of that stance. Now, when things are free and good, is the time to prepare ourselves. It is the ideal time to learn scripture and ground ourselves in our faith. We can NEVER be too prepared!

    BTW - Visit my site to pick up your Lemonade Award.

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  2. Paul is an example where the old life has gone and the new has come. He was a persecutor and God called him to be His servant and that is so great. I just find it really good, after all, Jesus really loves a sinner. Amen? And I thanked God for the life of Paul, he accepted Jesus and he was changed and now Paul remains a living testimony. Keep on blogging about Jesus. I affirm you. God bless.

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  3. I pray, as I read this, that the Holy Spirit will always give me the courage to publicly declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ. After all our Lord and Savior has done for me, I pray that I may remain faithful to the end.

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  4. Its a reality in India where you are threatened by Hindu groups to renounce your faith, and people are even forcefully converted to Hinduism. I'm sure you're knowledgable of what happened at Orissa.

    Sid

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  5. hi brad. thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. i appreciate it. its nice to hear that you also like switchfoot. i had an impression that you dont like such kind of music. but i was wrong. hahaha well, first impression don't seem to last for me. hahaha anyway, yeah, about the lyrics you mentioned that is Adding to the Noise. its a good song. keep on rocking for Jesus! by the way, its not kinabushi, its kinabuhi. we got a new kinabuhi when we had Him rule in our lives. hehehe that's all for now. until here!

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  6. Here in America we are so removed from persecution for our faith that we can so easily take our freedom for granted. Sid, I had heard in the news some of what had happened at Orissa, but if you know of a solid news article of what went on I would appreciate if you could post a link here so I and my readers could learn more about the tragedy. The more we know about these situations the more we can pray.

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  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvJ6WD13T2s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubdQmUF4EiA&feature=related

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  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4UjmmFToJk&feature=related

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  9. Brad - Thank you for asking for more information in regard to the persecution of Christians in India, and thanks to Sidharth for sharing. I visited all the links provided, and I will NEVER understand what anyone thinks will ever come from violence and intolerance. It always seems so very backward to me.

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  10. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:14-18)

    Thank you Sid for these links. I was really struck and even a little taken back by Romans 12:14 as presented in one of the videos. Bless those who persecute you. If I am honest that is not my first response and I am so removed physically and even really emotionally from the situation. I could not even imagine being in their place and really living this verse out.

    Lord God give them strength as these Christians live through this horrible injustice. Give them strength as they proclaim the name of Christ and as they strive to live a life like Christ lived.

    I will be praying for the people in Orissa.

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  11. Hey Brad, I'm just loving your site. Thanks for giving us so much great resource here! And thanks for the link to "JesusFollower" on the right. I really appreciate that.

    Your post about Paul just reminds me of the how life changing Jesus is. I'm encouraged and sense the passion welling up in my soul. Thanks!!

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  12. Oh Brad, you have a great site-for-Jesus here, and we can just all praise the Lord for that. Keep on writing for and about Jesus, thanks...I have yet to visit those sites provided by Sidharth, so I can also know, though right now I've prayed for those persecuted Christians. We can only thank God we are not in that place, but we should help them by our prayers, for them to have more and more courage and strength to live out their faith up to the end!

    God bless you!

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  13. Great post!! Please consider praying over our prayer requests on main page @ LighthousePrayerLine.org

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  14. I was once like Saul persecuting Jesus. But now I become another Paul proclaiming God's glory. I may not reach even a 1oth of Paul's accomplishments but at least I'm glad God is joyful on my soul.

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  15. What a wonderful post to show the forgiveness of Jesus and how we can all turn our lives around by making a commitment to His word. I will also pray for the people in Orissa.

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  16. i admit to have not been religiously following the story of each character in the Bible. That is one thing where I fail in an aspect as a Catholic and a believer.

    Thank you for sharing this. I've learned something today. I continue to aim doing what is good as a person and so may God bless my goal.

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  17. Our God, the Father, is an ever-loving God that He even sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save mankind. We, humans, are the main reason why God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. Jesus, while on Earth, had sacrificed and permitted the Roman soldiers to laughed at and tortured him because He love us so much than we could ever imagine.

    And if we continue to make sins, we are just like torturing Jesus again, just what like the Roman soldiers did, making Him hurt again because He has died for our sins.

    Prayer is power. We should continue to go to Mass on Sundays or even daily (http://www.jesus-passion.com/Eucharist.htm), pray the Holy Rosary daily (http://www.sistersofcarmel.com/rosaryinfo.php), to confess our sins and repent, and go to Adoracion.

    We must humble ourselves before God and men and avoid pride because pride is the reason why Satan go against God.

    And, as what St. Paul did, we must also spread God's Words for all nations.

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  18. Paul was a persecutor and God called him to be His loyal servant!
    It's great to see that God is working in peoples lives even thou lots of times we don't deserve it!

    What would you choose?
    by Arcadia

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  19. Hey Brad - thanks for 'following' my blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I look forward to visiting you and reading your devotionals. See you around!

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  20. Please pray for financial miracle Blessing from Heaven … for Work & Good pay for each Family Live on Same road I Live on.
    I Pray for Prayers for Your Finances Blessing from Heaven. Only God in Heaven can Do, Bless Mine Hubby, Son & I. & rest of mine Family’s. Bless Finances Blessing from God, for each family That Live on Same road I Live on, I Pray for the ones who do not know Jesus as Their Saver, Will get saved in the Blood of Jesus Christ. I do pray In Jesus Name, For Young Children’s, Teens, And Young Adults. That lives on the same rode I live on, For Peace, Love, Joy, & Learn to Forgive there self, & others In Jesus Name… I Pray For Each School Age to stay in school, In Jesus Christ Name… I Do love U Jesus Christ in heaven what you is going Do, Bless You Lord Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ name I Pray. Father in heaven you Get All the Praise & Glory & Honor Amen. Praise God.
    Please Pray For Street Bullies & Schools. In The Name Of Jesus Christ.
    God Bless Jews. & USA. In God I trust
    Let Go, Let God Worry about Your Future. In The name Of Jesus Christ… God Bless you. I pray all you’re Prayers & Dream come true In Jesus Christ Name


    Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
    Colossians 4:2

    "I called on the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me."
    Psalm 118:5

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