The Martyr’s Life. Phil. 3:7-14. Wed. after Judica
Wednesday after Judica
St. Peter Lutheran Church
“Martyria: The Martyr’s Life”
March 28, 2012
Beloved in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Witness. Why has this been the theme put before you during Lenten services? Because as we’ve all heard since Sunday School, we should “tell people the good news about Jesus.” A witness tells people what he saw.
Jesus told His disciples that they would be His witnesses. They would bear witness that Jesus died and rose from the dead. As they told people about what He had done and taught people His teaching, Jesus would be with them and would work through them to call more disciples.
We, Christ’s Church, are the keepers of the witness of the apostles. We tell people what the apostles handed down in the Scripture. But as we bear witness to Christ, we become witnesses ourselves. Christ works in us and among us, and we see and know His work among us through faith in His promises. Faith makes us see Christ among us; makes us witnesses.
All Christians—every single one—has been called by Christ to work together with the rest of the members of His body to bear witness to Him and what He has done for us. Every part of our lives, every moment of our lives, are meant to bear witness to Jesus. We are called to bear witness to Christ as we live by faith in Him in our families, at work, at play, in Church. We bear witness by showing mercy and bearing with one another. We bear witness when we give our offerings so that God’s word is preached here and far away; we participate in Christ’s work as we continually pray for the Church here and throughout the world, as we pray for our families and our neighbors who do not know Christ. We also bear witness when we personally tell people about Jesus or invite them to church. And it ought to be our highest joy to see another lost sinner receive the Church’s witness to Jesus, believe in Him, and be saved.
But being a witness to Jesus comes at a cost. To bear witness to Christ we must die. The old man will not and cannot bear witness to Jesus. The old man insists on his own righteousness and does not wish to suffer anything from people whom we show love to; the old man wants punishment for those who do us wrong. So our old nature must die if we are to bear witness to Jesus.
In the reading from Philippians St. Paul describes his life as a martyr or witness of Jesus Christ. He explains why he still willingly goes to tell people about Jesus when they reward him with whippings and imprisonment and being stoned. He explains why he does not lose heart even though he is not a perfect witness to Christ. We are called by Jesus Christ Himself to be His witnesses—to live among sinners, to seek their good in this life and in eternity ahead of our own, and to be rewarded with rejection, suffering, and death for this service. The reasons Paul was willing to live as Christ’s martyr and what enabled him not to despair at the impossibility of the task apply to all of us at St. Peter who want to be Christ’s witnesses not only in name but in truth. They apply to all of us who want to be acknowledged by Christ on the day He returns to judge the living and the dead and have Him say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of Your Lord!” (Matthew 25)
Let all of us then who desire this and who fear being cast out by Christ on the last day listen carefully to the word of God which tells us
- What makes a martyr willing to bear witness to Christ crucified not only in words, but in willingly bearing the cross, and
- What makes a martyr not lose heart.
We pray: O Father in heaven, without Your Spirit we cannot believe in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, nor come to Him, and of ourselves the darkness of our hearts can only shut out the light of Your Word. May your Spirit guide my tongue to rightly teach Your Word, and may He enlighten our hearts, so that we live in true faith which strains toward the prize of knowing Christ and sharing in His suffering, death, and resurrection; through Whose Name we bring our prayer. Amen.
- What makes a martyr willing
- The surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus Christ
- Christ’s excellence
- Why unbelievers do not see it
- That the martyr considers everything else excrement in comparison to knowing Jesus
- Human righteousness/talent/glory is considered worthless because It actually keeps us away from Christ.
Pride, self-love, love of riches, praise of men, power—these keep us from praising Christ, glorifying Him, and bearing witness—which means that other people are given offenses that interfere with them coming to know Christ.
- The world considers Christ to be worthless because
- The surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus Christ
- He calls us to come and die with Him, seeking God’s glory and neighbor’s blessing instead of self.
- He calls us to lose everything else so that we may have Him.
- How can you tell me to repent of what I am? How can God punish me for being what I was born? It’s not really a fight about changing morals–it’s rejection of the cross which declares that everything we are by nature must die, must be repented of, and the righteousness we are capable of performing on our own is sin in the sight of God.
2. What gives a martyr joy and keeps him from losing heart and forsaking Christ.
A. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in the martyr
- The Holy Spirit works in the martyr through the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). 1. This is why Christians are not ashamed of the Gospel2. The human voice that proclaims that God became a man
3. And instead of taking vengeance and showing power allowed the wicked to kill Him, while He continued to love them and seek their good.
4. The sinful mind considers it shameful to love those who abuse us, but the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit finds joy and glory in loving enemies; because this is what it means to know Jesus Christ. We know Him by faith in the Gospel. We participate in the power of His resurrection by the Holy Spirit, and we have communion in His suffering as by faith we live in Him.
B. The risen Lord lives in the Christian witness, and enables him/us to bear witness to the One who was crucified for sinners by participating in His suffering and becoming like Him in His death.
1. Christ suffered because He came to live among sinners, loved them and dwelled with them.
2. But He was not content to live among them and let them stay in their sins. He loved them and sought their salvation, calling to repentance, and promising forgiveness.
3. People say, “Preaching to sinners that Jesus died for them–being witnesses to Christ among the ungodly–is more likely to get you killed than to get them salvation.”
a. That is true.
b. Jesus doesn’t suggest that following Him may be hazardous. He says that everyone who follows Him is going to crucifixion.
c. Whether a death like his means literal death or physical suffering or the metaphorical death of no longer living as though we are free to live life for ourselves, in every case a true Christian bears witness to Jesus by sharing in His death. Without that there is no Christianity.
C. The martyr has joy under the cross because he believes that suffering and death with Jesus is the way to the prize of resurrection with Jesus.
1. We know Christ and participate in His life.
2. We live life together with Jesus under the cross, looking to inherit glory together with Jesus.
3. We have intimacy/communion with Jesus, so we don’t lose heart. We have this intimacy because we share in the power of His resurrection by faith, and as we continue in faith we begin to embrace not only Jesus suffering on the cross that takes away our sins but also the crosses that kill the false hopes of the old Adam. As we participate in the sufferings of Jesus we rejoice that we know Him and that we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection (Rom. 6)
D. The martyr is not afraid because what he is striving to gain—death, resurrection, exaltation with Christ—he already has.
- Our flesh says, “What do you mean? I haven’t died. My sinful nature hasn’t died.”
- God says that it died with Christ; “he was pierced for our transgressions…”
- God says you died and rose with Christ in Baptism.
- Baptism works forgiveness of sins….
- You don’t have to understand it, but take Christ at His Word.
E. He keeps Christ before his eyes.
- It is finished
- Forgetting what is behind, eagerly running for the prize ahead.
- Even if I fall a thousand times, He has done it. He has promised.
Here we have a firm foundation, here the refuge for the lost…
Christ the rock of our salvation is the name in which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded, sacrifice to cancel guilt,
None shall ever be confounded who on Him their hope have built.