As Christians we mark the most significant event in human history: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by celebrating Holy Week which refers to the seven full days of reflection, meditation and spiritual activities that captures our feelings of devotion and love for the Savior, culminating on Easter Sunday. Some of us even make the pilgrimage to the holy land and retrace Jesus’ steps to the cross where he was crucified between two thieves in a deliberate effort to humiliate him, but even in the depths of his humiliation he prayed for his executioners asking his heavenly Father to pardon them saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
During the early days of the church as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the followers of Christ were outcasts, social pariahs, even executed for their beliefs as the official religion of Rome was a state sanctioned Paganism, and the powers that be—at that time—would tolerate no deviation from what they ordained.
Gradually over many decades, Christianity spread throughout the empire, and it is generally believed that eventually the Roman Emperor realized that it behooved him and the best interests of his empire to proclaim Christianity to be the official state religion. With that the widespread persecution of Christians ended for the most part. That is until the 20th century came around.
With the rise of Communist governments throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, Christians were once again forced from the public eye and went underground so as to avoid persecution. Some like the early martyrs paid the ultimate price for their faith at the hands of secular atheists that saw the Communist Party as the ultimate power, their man made God so to speak.
And now in the 21st century we once again see wide spread persecution and murder of Christians in Iraq, Syria, and African countries at the hands of Muslim Extremists. And here in the so called Western Civilized Countries such as Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States we see Fascist Secular Extremists claiming that Christianity must end, some Atheists who proclaim their non-religion belief of reason and morale relativism—which is a religion unto itself—go so far as to say the basic teachings of Christianity when taught to minors is a form of child abuse and should be banned. Never before has so many humans cried out for Christianity to end.
Personally I had always wondered what was the meaning of Revelation 6:9-11 which reads;
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would live to see widespread persecution, humiliation, and modern day martyrdom. So up until the last several months I could not fathom what the meaning of verses 10 and 11 were.
Interestingly the word martyr is derived from the Greek word meaning witness, therefore the Phrase Christian Martyr would mean witness of Christ or someone who gives witness/testimony to the passion of Christ, the persecution, humiliation, execution and Resurrection of the Son of God. And again Interestingly those of us that try to reason with our adversaries do so with loving Christian witness; we maintain that if there is no God, that if there was no Christ, then what harm was there in any of us living an innocent Christian lifestyle with traditional moral values. I mean if God does not exist then we have lived good lives and we will simply die with no knowledge of any afterlife; however what if we are right, God does exist, what if he really did give his only Son for the sins of the world. What if Jesus really did rise from the dead?
Let’s look at the rest of Revelation 6;
The Sixth Seal—Terror
Revelation 6:12-17New International Version (NIV)
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
If Jesus really didn’t rise from the dead, and you have lived an exemplary life, then there is nothing wrong with a life well spent, but what if he did rise from the dead/ Are you prepared to face the wrath of the lamb as he punishes those that persecuted innocents who gave witness of his ministry? Or ignores the pleas of those that refused to live accordingly to his Father’s Holy Word, get out your bible or bible app and read Matthew 7:20-24 (or click here)
On that note I leave you with the tradition Paschal greeting, also known as the Easter Acclamation, an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Christians. Instead of “hello” or its equivalent, one is to greet another person with; “Alleluia Alleluia Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed”
Think about it…..