Luke 23:43 “Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today, you will be with Me in paradise.”
Jesus, our Lord and Savior, spoke these words in the midst of what some scholars say is the most physically demanding torture a man could endure at that time. How could He think about anything other than His pain? But some of the last words Jesus spoke, while He was suspended off the ground by the nails piercing His body, were words of faith, salvation, and hope. What a Savior we have!
Our brother in Christ Stephen also died a horrible death. And while being stoned, he also thought about people’s souls instead of his pain. He said, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!”
Truth is, the final words of many martyrs of Christ professed salvation in the midst of stoning, burning, torture, and/or beating.
The decision of these martyrs to follow God to the end has weight and worth. No other decision transcends time, space, and trial as does the decision to follow Christ. This decision alone spans across death. The decision to serve Christ is life.
Paul said of his own life, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul is saying that since he made his decision to put Jesus first, it is Christ who directs and empowers all that he does.
We may not be faced with a decision that will bring about our martyrdom, but we are going to be asked to make decisions that will greatly affect the quality of our lives. In making those decisions, don’t forget the decision from which all our decisions should hang: the decision to live for Jesus Christ. Pray that your testimony be like our Savior’s, so that in our most trying times we have a heart firmly trusting in Him. Then, like Jesus and the martyrs, in we will profess faith during our most difficult experiences, and light will shine in darkness.