The story of Polycarp, Smyrna’s bishop who studied under the Apostle John, comes to mind. Adamantly committed to the saving lordship of Jesus, which left no room for bowing to the empire, Polycarp was arrested and sentenced to death. Actually, he was given a chance to step out of the fire. The Roman proconsul gave Polycarp the choice of cursing the name of Jesus and worshiping Caesar to save his skin or continue embracing Jesus to his death. “Swear,” said the proconsul, “and I will set you at liberty. Reproach Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” After the proconsul threatened him again with the specter of burning at the stake, Polycarp added, “You threaten me with fire which awaits the wicked in judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. Why are you waiting? Come, do what you will.” As they approached him and prepared to tie him to the stake to be burned, he shouted, “Leave me as I am, for He who gives me power to endure the fire, will grant me to remain in the flames unmoved even without the security you will give by the nails.” Loosely bound, with flames flashing about him, Polycarp prayed, “O Lord God Almighty, Father of Thy beloved Child, Jesus Christ … I bless Thee that Thou has granted unto me this day and hour, that I may share, among the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Thy Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life.” And so on February 23, a.d. 155, Polycarp paid the price.

Then he went to heaven. The pay off is worth the price. Then there was Patrick Hamilton who studied under Martin Luther in Wittenberg. He literally ignited the Reformation in Scotland. As he burned at the stake in 1527, he said, “As to my confession, I will not deny it for awe of your fire, for my confession and belief is in Jesus Christ … I will rather be content that my body burn in this fire for confession of my faith in Christ than have my soul burn in the fire of hell for denying the same.

How strong is our testimony for Christ?

1 comment:

Grammy Blick said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful to learn from John?