Talk presented during the May devotion 2018 By Apollonia A. Nwosu


Published: May 30, 2018 at 09:41 AM Admin

“They Persecuted Me; They Will Persecute You” (John 15:20) by Apollonia Anaele Nwosu What is persecution? Persecution entails hostility and ill treatment especially because of race, political or religious beliefs; oppression, unfair or cruel treatment, harassment, victimization, rejection and torture WHO THEN PERSECUTED JESUS? The people of his generation Acts 4:27-28 For truly in this city, there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom they didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to do what ever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place Why was JESUS persecuted? * He was persecuted as a result of God’s will and of His life style. * His preaching was in conflict with his fellow towns’ people and Jewish leaders. THAT IS: HIS PERSECUTION WAS PREDESTINED Teaching, preaching, pronouncement and activities-in conflict with his fellow towns people and Jewish leaders In Genesis 3:15, it is written “God said to the serpent, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise your heel”. He was predestined from Old Testament book of Isaiah to New Testament by God to suffer and die (Acts 4:28). Jesus was different from all the people of His time had seen. He knew his missions-to teach the ways of God and warn people of living evil lives. He was perfect, sinless, righteous, truthful, courageous, and fearless. JESUS TEACHINGS AND PRONOUNCEMENTS Jesus said He is the bread of life. He who eats me will have eternal life; so His fresh was food and His blood drink. Woes unto you Scribes and Pharisees, you devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayer; therefore, ye shall receive the greater damnation (Mth 23:14). Jesus worked miracles – Healing (Man sick for 38 years at Gate of Bethesaida. But Jesus responded to them “My Father is still working and I am working also” (John 5:1-18). “Therefore the Jews began persecuting Him because He was doing these things on Sabbath”. Jesus was accused of blasphemy; calling Himself God. To them, not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God (John 5:1-18). Raising Lazarus from the dead generated ill-feeling of the Pharisees and chief priest. John 11:1–44 What are we going to do to this man? INSTANCES OF JESUS PERSECUTION (HOW) His persecution started from birth. Born in a manger, Herod tried to kill him. Lived as a refugee in Egypt. He came back from Egypt and faced ill treatment, harassment and rejection from his own people and the authorities as it is written. “A man’s enemies will be the members of His household” (Matthew 10:36). The High Priest Caiaphas suggested “Don’t you realize that it is better for you to let one man die for the people instead of having the whole nation destroyed”(Jn 11:50). They seek to kill him henceforth. He was betrayed by his own Apostle-Judas and arrested in the garden by armed “Roman soldiers and some temple guards sent by the chief priests and Pharisees” (Jn 18:3). They crucified him (Jn 19:18). The soldiers pierced his side with a spear (Jn 19:34). The ‘You’ in question are the followers of Christ; those who believe in him. Christian persecution started with Jesus himself Jesus in Luke 6:22 define persecution of His followers when He said “Blessed are you when men HATE YOU, when they EXCLUDE you and INSULT you and REJECT your name as Evil because of the son of man”. PERSECUTION OF EARLY CHRISTIANS “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria”(Acts 1:8). Peter and others spoke boldly about Christ, His death, His resurrection and salvation through His name. The Priests and the Sadducees came upon them and arrested Peter and Paul and put them in custody. They were flogged, jailed, stoned etc. It was recorded that “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted working to suffer dishonor for the name” They underwent physical intimidation, social injustice and personal insults. Many of the early disciples died for their faith – the apostles (except John-the beloved Apostle), Stephen and Peter .”. After his conversion Paul suffered persecution. He was often arrested and ill treated by the Jews (Acts 21:27-40; 22: 22-26) Persecution of Christians in Today’s World Christians are persecuted all around the world for following Jesus. 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution Every month 255 Christians are killed, 104 are abducted, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage, 66 churches are attacked and 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned. The top countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus include: South Korea: The practice of Christianity is illegal, forbidden or punished according to Open Doors Reseaches ( The top fifty countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus include: Afghanistan: Afghanistan-also extreme in intolerance and outright persecution of Christians Pakistan: Pakistan recorded the most violence against Christians last year. It scored the highest in church attacks, abductions and forced marriages Nigeria: Nigeria ranks No. 14 in the list of top 50 countries - Boko Haram operations, etc. LEAH SHAIBU IS STILL BEING PERSECUTED BECAUSE OF HER FAITH Values/Benefits of Persecution The Blood of Martyrs is the Seed of the Church Sharing a special fellowship with Christ (Phil 3:8-10) Helps us prove our faith, work “patience” Graciously accepting persecution allows one to demonstrate superior quality than your adversaries (as shown by Leah Sharibu; evidence of virtue) Spurs unity among Christians God’s blessings/rewards. Beatitudes- Blessed are they who are persecuted…..(Sermon on the Mount) HOW SHOULD TODAYS CHRISTIAN RESPOND TO PERSECUTION? Roles of Other Christians towards Christian Persecution We serve the persecuted church through: prayer and support bible distribution medical relief safe houses discipleship food relief trauma counseling rebuilding homes and churches and more..... We can also connect to our persecuted family by: Prayer - commit to pray daily for your persecuted family. Engagement - Write a letter, sign petitions, and use your voice to advocate for your persecuted family Volunteering – Join Christian missions Give - Give today and help provide Bibles, discipleship, food etc. WHAT ELSE CAN CHRISTIANS DO? IN THE FACE OF INCREASING PERSECUTION, CHRISTIANS CAN ARM THEMSELVES AND FIGHT FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR FAITH AND SELF DEFENCE OF THEIR GENERATION

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