Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christ Was Born a Martyr

Skip Ryan, in Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), page 20, wrote:

Glory in the Gospel of John is used to describe the death of Christ. That is amazing. In John 12:23-24, for example, we read, "And Jesus answered them saying, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.'" John Donne, in The Book of Uncommon Prayers, says, "The whole of Christ's life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where he was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed his glory by his death."

Most evangelicals are understandably slow to use the language of martyrdom of Jesus. Certainly we don't want to portray the cross as an unfortunate turn of events in the life of Jesus that he had no power over. Jesus laid down His life, no one took it from Him. Yet, in as much as He died for His witness to the Truth, He can be said to be a martyr, a theme, I would argue, presented in the book of Revelation. Take some time to reflect on the Golgotha that Christ found in Bethlehem.

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