Witnessing for God – Matthew 20:21-25

And They Really ARE Out To Get You…

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

Betrayed by Brothers

Jesus warns His disciples that when they are obedient to His word, they will be betrayed by their very own siblings.  And they won’t just be betrayed – they will be betrayed unto death.  Following Christ as a Disciple, especially witnessing for Christ, carries with it inherent risks.  In Western culture, these risks have been avoided for centuries because the tolerance for others religiously was greatly permitted.  However, since the fulfillment of Scripture of both the reformation of the nation of Israel (1948) and their subsequent independence of gentile control through the Six-Day War (in 1967), there has been an all-out assault on Christianity in the last haven on Earth for them.

It is common in the Middle East nations that have embraced Islam as their core tenet of society (whether overtly or covertly) to ensure that anyone who is caught believing in YHWH and His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, is put to death in a most immediate, public, and brutal way:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Persecuted by Parents

Parents love their children.  Most parents would place themselves in harm’s way to protect their children, even to the point of death.  But once a person becomes a disciple of Christ, that protection is forfeited.  The hatred of God by His enemies is so strong, that parents would betray their children, even allowing them to be arrested and put to death.  In many cultures, especially ones where they strictly adhere to the teachings of Muhammed and the Quran, there is a duty to reveal anyone who does not believe as they do.

Parents turn their backs on their children, and betray them even to death when they are strict adherents to the “religion of peace.”  But even two thousand years ago, Jewish parents would do the same, believing that their children were apostate, believing in false gods.  And the penalty for that was death.

Children will Cross

This was not a one-way street.  If children found out that there parents were apostate, they also had a duty to report them for the very same reason to receive the very same punishment.  The one that is worshiped in the Jewish culture will not tolerate worship of false Gods.  Neither will the fundamentalist adherents of Islam allow anyone who was declared to be Muslim worship anyone other than Al iLah.  Love that would normally bind together families and smooth out differences is not tolerated when it comes to whom or what a person worships.

Jesus warns that this will happen, so be prepared for the consequences of following Him as His disciple.  It very well may mean the difference between physical life and death.  But thanks be to God that He, through the blood of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, has given His disciples eternal life found in Him.  Regardless of whether we live or die in the flesh, we are spiritually alive in Christ, and will be so for all eternity, starting from when we believe upon His name.  Worry not about whether you are going to be persecuted or even put to death.  You are alive in Christ!

Depart before Destruction

Jesus instructs his disciples to flee persecution.  He does not require His disciples to be doormats for His enemies.  When persecuted, feel free to flee somewhere else where you will not face persecution.

It is truly a sad day for the disciples of Christ that the United States of America, once the bastion of liberty and a nation that permitted the free exercise of religion now openly persecutes and prosecutes those who adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  No longer is their protection to freely worship in public and private.  The state-mandated religion of Secular Humanism is now the religion du jour and the only one fully tolerated by the government (with the exception of Islam being preferred in the background).  Be prepared to lose everything if you decide, as a disciple of Christ, to live by your beliefs in public as well as private.  And now that the last bastion of freedom has vanished, there is no place on Earth where it is safe for disciples of Christ to go and practice their faith without fear of governmental reprisal.

Assault for Association

Jesus warns His disciples that they are not above Him, meaning that whatever mistreatment that He experienced living His life for the glory of God and to His honor, His disciples would endure the same as well.  The student is not above the teacher, receiving preferential treatment and avoiding the costs associated with the learning and practice of that learning in public.

Fully expect that for your identity in Christ that you will be singled out and persecuted if you live your life in the same manner as your Savior.  It is inevitable.  However, in the same way, your identity in Christ brings with it great rewards as well for you are not above your teacher, and will be rewarded for your obedience and submission to Him when God has appointed you to give an accounting for your life.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I fully prepared to suffer the same way that Jesus suffered and for the same reasons?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, please prepare me for what is to come.  For your Son has said that because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of most will grow cold.  Help me to endure to the end that I may be found in Christ.  Give me hope, strength, courage, wisdom, and boldness in life that regardless of what my enemies do to me that I will not flinch but rather be emboldened to speak what I have heard and seen.  Give me courage like a lion that when I am called to account by men I will not shrink back, but rather submit to Your Spirit and thus be used as You intend me to be used.  This I ask in the faithful and precious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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