The Context & Pretext For Persecution & Suffering Is Being Set & Almost Complete

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. Before I delve into the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I want to build and expound upon something that is found in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the ninth chapter you will find Jesus returning unto His own city after having just driven out unclean spirits from two men in the region of the Gergesenes. Upon arriving into His own city we find one who was sick with the palsy and lying on a bed being brought to Jesus, and Jesus—when seeing the faith of those who had brought this man unto Him—spoke unto this man calling him son, encouraged him to be of good cheer, and declared unto him that his sins were forgiven. As a direct result of Jesus’ words which were spoken unto this man concerning his sins being forgiven He would draw the anger, the ire, the offense, and the disdain of the scribes which were present on this particular day. What’s more, is the scribes and Pharisees would murmur among themselves asking who but God alone had the authority to forgive sins. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words we find here in this passage brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the offense of Jesus would indeed begin during those days. Up until this point we find Jesus teaching in the synagogues, we find Jesus preaching the kingdom of heaven, we find Jesus healing all manner of sickness brought unto Him, we find Jesus delivering the Sermon on the mount, we find Jesus calling two sets of brothers to walk with and follow Him, we find Him speaking to the wind and the waves to be still, and we find Him cleansing a leper and healing the servant of a Roman centurion. Up until this point it would appear that Jesus would indeed and would in fact be liked, loved, welcomed, embraced, and appreciated by everyone. This, however, would only be a façade and nothing more than smoke and mirrors, for when you come to the ninth chapter you will find something beginning to transpire in the public ministry of Jesus.

            As you come to the  ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew you will find Jesus beginning to offend the scribes during those days. Beginning with the first verse you will begin to find and will start to notice that Jesus wouldn’t please everyone. The more you read and the more you consider the narrative surrounding Jesus the more you will find that there would come a time when offenses would begin to come, and when the religious establishment and system of that day would begin to be offended with the words which He spoke. What’s more, is that not only will you find the religious system and establishment being offended with the words He spoke, but you will also find it being offended with His lifestyle and how He chose to interact with men. In the opening verses of the ninth chapter you will find the scribes being angered, offended and indignant with and toward Jesus when He proclaimed and declared unto this man sick with the palsy that his sins were forgiven him. In the very next set of verses—after Jesus had called Matthew who was a publican to walk with and follow Him—we find Jesus sitting down to meat within the house of Matthew. It would be there in the house of Matthew the publican that we not only find Jesus sitting down to meat within the house of a publican, but we also find many publicans and sinners coming into the house and sitting down to meat with Jesus and His disciples. These actions from Jesus and His disciples would draw the disdain from another group of religious leaders during those days, for the Pharisees would ask the disciples of Jesus why He ate with publicans and sinners. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for within the first two portions of the ninth chapter we find Jesus not only angering and offending the scribes with His statement of forgiveness of sins, but we also find Jesus angering and offending the Pharisees because He chose to eat with publicans and sinners.

            BEHOLD, THE OFFENSES COME! BEHOLD, THE OFFENSES HAVE ARRIVED! BEHOLD, THE JESUS WHO OFFENDS BEGINS TO EMERGE! Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astonishing truths that surrounds the narrative of the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that the more you study it the more you will find that He was not welcomed, He was not embraced, He was not received, and He was not loved by everyone He encountered and came in contact with. You cannot read the gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that eventually Jesus would begin saying and doing things that would upset the order, the system and the traditions that were in place during those days. Eventually there would come a point when this one who cast out devils, who healed all manner of sickness, and who even raised the dead would begin to offend and upset the religious leaders and establishment of that day. In fact, you cannot have the gospel narratives—yea, you cannot even have the Gospel itself—without and apart from the experience of Jesus offending, angering and upsetting the religious leaders, system and establishment of that day. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found within this gospel narrative and not encounter and come face to face with a Jesus who was indeed and was in fact able to anger, offend and upset the religious system and establishment. You will notice that the ire and the murmuring of the scribes was Jesus’ words concerning the forgiveness of sins, and the ire and murmuring of the Pharisees was because Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and how absolutely challenging these words truly are, for they present us with two main and incredible sources of what I would call and describe as “the offense of Jesus.” As you read the words found within these passages of Scripture you will find Jesus offending the scribes because of His statement concerning the forgiveness of sins, and you will find Jesus offending the Pharisees because of His choosing to entertain, fellowship, eat and drink with publicans and sinners. Pause for a moment and think about these absolutely incredible and astonishing truths, for the forgiveness of sins and fellowshipping with sinners would anger and upset the religious establishment and system of that day.

            As I sit here writing these words I cannot help but be drawn to these two concepts—that of the forgiveness of sins, and that of fellowshipping with sinners—for not only do they provide us the context in which we find  the ire, the angst, the offense, and the murmuring of the scribes and the Pharisees, but they also present us with what I am absolutely and completely convinced will be the source of much offense within the days and times in which we are presently living. The more I read and consider these words the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that we are preparing to enter into dark and dangerous days of offense, opposition, affliction, assault, attack, anger, malice, hatred, resentment, and the like. During these days when freedom of speech is being assaulted and attacked on all sides and all fronts I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs prepare and make ourselves ready for that time and those days when the language of forgiveness of sins, and the actions of fellowshipping with sinners can and will anger, upset and offend those around us. What’s more, is that I would even go so far and be so bold as to say such realities and concepts will not only anger and upset the political establishment, but it will also anger and upset the religious establishment as well. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this thought truly is, for there is not a doubt in my mind that we are indeed preparing to live our lives in such a reality within this nation. What’s more, is I would dare say that we must needs prepare and make ourselves ready to anger and upset churches, church leaders, religious organizations, denominations, and the like—and as a direct result of this anger and offense we will find such parties and organizations in league with the government and political establishments. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find within these days and what we can and will see in the upcoming days is how many churches, how many religious organizations, how many ministries, and how many denominations can and will be in league with the government, and can and will seek to please and bow down to them.

            I read the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and I am brought face to face with that point within and during the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ in which He would begin to anger, upset and offend the religious system and establishment of that day. In fact, you don’t have to wait too long before you will find the Lord Jesus Christ beginning to anger, upset and offend the religious leaders, the religious system and the religious establishment during that day. You don’t have to wait too long when reading the words which the apostle Matthew wrote within this passage of Scripture and narrative before you begin reading and finding a Jesus who although He heals the sick, and although He preaches the kingdom of heaven, and although He teaches within the synagogues, also angers, upsets and offends the religious leaders and system of that day. You cannot read the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew without encountering and coming face to face with a Jesus who would begin angering and offending the religious system, and the first two areas and means of doing so would be around the forgiveness of sins and fellowshipping with sinners. It would be in the opening passage of the ninth chapter we find Jesus angering and offending the scribes because of His declaration concerning the forgiveness of sins which were spoken unto the man who was sick with the palsy, and it would be in the very next passage we find Jesus angering and offending the Pharisees because He chose to entertain, eat and drink with, and fellowship with publicans and sinners. Oh we must needs pay careful and close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for they bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that two of the greatest sources of the anger and offense of the religious establishment and system will indeed and will in fact be the forgiveness of sins and fellowshipping with sinners. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to just how incredibly important this truly is when we read and consider the words in this passage of Scripture, for these words bring us face to face with that which I am absolutely and completely convinced is present within the days and times in which we are living today.

            The words which are found in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew are actually quite remarkable and intense when you take the time to think about and consider them, for the words which are found bring us face to face with the truth of a Jesus who in addition to healing and performing signs, wonders and miracles also offends. The more we think about and consider Jesus the Christ the more we must needs recognize and understand that He was one who wasn’t received, welcomed, embraced, loved, and appreciated during the days and times in which He was living. There would come a point in time—and that fairly early on within His public ministry—when He would begin to anger and offend the religious leaders of that day. It is truly something astonishing and astounding to read the narrative found in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by Matthew, for within it we find Jesus beginning to offend the scribes because of the words which He spoke. It would be in the very next passage where we find Jesus beginning to upset and offend the Pharisees because of His actions—actions which would not only find Him entering into the home of a publican, but would also find Him eating and fellowshipping with many publicans and sinners. In fact, the more you read the words which are found within the gospels you will find Jesus angered and offended the religious system because of the words He spoke, because of the works which He performed, and even the  lifestyle He chose to live.

            I cannot help but be absolutely and completely gripped and captivated with and by the tremendous truth that in the opening verses of the ninth chapter we are brought face to face with a Jesus who didn’t always fit into the context, the box and the framework the scribes and the pharisees had put Him in. The more you read the gospel narratives the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that this Jesus whom the gospel authors wrote about was a Jesus who would begin to anger, upset and offend the religious leaders, and that offenses would begin to come. If and as you read the gospels you will find Jesus speaking about offenses inevitably coming, and you will find Jesus even pronouncing a woe upon those through whom the offenses came, but directly linked and connected to that truth and reality you will find Jesus Himself beginning to anger, upset and offend those who were present during those days. Eventually and ultimately the offenses would indeed begin to come, and eventually the words Jesus spoke and the way Jesus lived would anger and upset the status quo and the system and establishment of that day. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that in the days in which we are living—and not only the days in which we are living, but also the days in which we are entering—we are going to see offenses beginning to rise up and beginning to emerge within this nation. We know that in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and the like that Christians—those who are disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—draw the anger, the hatred, the resentment, the offense, the ridicule, the affliction, the opposition and the persecution of Islamic leaders. What’s more, is that within those nations and countries that are predominantly Islamic in their politics and religion it is indeed dangerous to be one who professes to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, there was a book which was released and produced by Voice of the Martyrs which was titled “I AM N,” and the entire book was one that centered around the persecution, the affliction and the opposition of the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ in those countries which are dominated and controlled by the religion and government of Islam.

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this truth, for it draws and calls our attention into the awesome and powerful reality that we are living in and during days when we are beginning to see the breakdown of free speech within this nation and country. We are beginning to see the breakdown of freedom of speech, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we are witnessing and what we are beholding is just the beginning of what will be a strong and powerful resistance and opposition to anything and everything that is Christian. Right now men and women are free to worship in church buildings—even though COVID has limited the overall capacity of how many can worship in the building at one time—and men and women are free to profess themselves as Evangelical Christians and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now men and women are able to freely worship, and freely conduct themselves as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the more I think about the events which are taking place during the days and times in which we are living, the more I am brought face to face with the truly awesome and powerful truth that we are preparing to enter into days in which—not only will civil liberties and freedoms be assaulted, but so also will that freedom which men and women who have professed themselves to be Christians and disciples and followers of Christ have enjoyed. I have begun to believe that if you are indeed one who professes to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you are one who is indeed a Christian within this nation, you must needs hold on to your rights, your freedoms and your liberties incredibly loosely. There is not a doubt in my mind that we as the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ must needs live our lives as though we have no freedom(s), as though we have no liberties, and as though we have no rights.

            I read the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and I am absolutely astonished and intrigued with and by the fact that Jesus’ words concerning the forgiveness of sins, as well as Jesus’ lifestyle of eating and fellowshipping with publicans and sinners would draw the angst, the ire, the malice, the resentment and the offense of the scribes and Pharisees. Not only this, but what you will begin to read and find within the gospels is that what would ultimately begin as an annoyance, and what would ultimately begin as grumbling and complaining would ultimately increase exponentially to the point and place where the religious leaders and system of that day sought to kill and destroy Jesus. You cannot read the gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that what would initially begin as grumbling and complaining within the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees would ultimately spiral and increase with such great force, speed and ferocity that it would eventually drive them seek ways and means to kill and to destroy Jesus. What we find in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative is the scribes and the Pharisees murmuring among themselves in their offense with Jesus because He spoke of the forgiveness of sins, and He chose to eat and fellowship with publicans and sinners. In all reality, I find the words which are found in the ninth chapter absolutely and incredibly captivating and challenging—particularly and especially when I consider the fact that I firmly believe we are about to enter into days when offense can and will begin to emerge and can and will begin to arise. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are preparing to enter into dark and dangerous days when offenses will begin to increase within this nation as not only will the religious establishment and system begin to grow offended with those who profess to be disciples and followers of Jesus, but so also will the political system and establishment begin to grow tired, weary, worn down and offended with those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            I AM A CHRISTIAN! For a long time these words and this declaration has been able to be freely used within this nation and has been understood to be a statement that one professes allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. What I am beginning to see and sense, however, is that in the coming days there will be a tremendous disparity and difference between those who profess themselves to be “Christians” and those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are about to enter into days when making the declaration that you are a Christian will not be anything that angers, upsets or offends others, however, the minute you choose to take that a step further and profess yourself to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more you will find yourself drawing the angst, the ire, the resentment, the offense, and the resentment of those before and all around you. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are coming days when making the declaration that you are a Christian will not draw the offense of the religious system and establishment, however, making the declaration that you are a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ can and will draw the anger, the malice, the hatred, the resentment and offense of those before and all around you. We dare not and must not miss on this particular point, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that in the coming days there is going to be a strong and powerful distinction that is going to be made between those who profess themselves to be “Christians” and those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the days and times in which we are preparing to enter into it will be socially acceptable to make the declaration that you are a Christian, for making such a declaration does not carry with it any type of offense before and toward others.

            If you take the time to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find yourself encountering Jesus’ calling the twelve disciples unto Himself and sending them out as partners and fellow-laborers in the work of the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found within this passage of Scripture is when you consider that the words which Jesus spoke within this passage of Scripture weren’t simply about ministry and laboring together with Him in the work of the kingdom. It would be very easy to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and think of it solely in terms of ministry, and solely in terms of laboring together with the Lord Jesus Christ within the earth, and yet the truth of the matter is that the words found in this passage of Scripture have at the very heart and center of it the core and foundation of discipleship. I am absolutely and completely convinced when reading the words found in the tenth chapter of this gospel narrative that at the very heart and center of the words which are proclaimed and declared within them is the powerful call to discipleship. When we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs acknowledge the awesome and tremendous truth that what is contained therein is a powerful invitation—not only to labor and work together with the Lord Jesus Christ in ministry, but also to truly be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with when reading the words found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew it’s that in the seventh chapter we find Jesus declaring that not everyone who declares and professes “Lord, Lord” can and will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father which was in heaven. Jesus would then go on to declare that many will come to Him in that day speaking of the demons they cast out, those things which they prophesied in His name, and all the great and wonderful things they did in His name, and yet He will turn unto them and declare that He never knew them—this right after He instructed and commanded them to depart from Him because they were workers of iniquity.

            Upon coming to the twenty-fourth chapter of this same gospel narrative you will find Jesus declaring that there will come in the last days many false Christs, and many who will profess themselves to be Christ, and can and will deceive many. For many years I read and interpreted those words spoken by Jesus to mean that there would literally be those who would profess themselves to be Jesus, and the Christ, and the Messiah. The more I began reading those words in recent years the more I began to see those words in an entirely different light—namely, that they might not refer to those who profess themselves to be Christ, but those who profess themselves to be “Christ’s.” Thus those words weren’t necessarily words of identity in that such men and women would profess themselves to be Christ, but rather they would be words of association as men and women would profess themselves to be Christ’s, or Christ followers, or even Christians. We must needs realize and understand that at the very heart of the word “Christian” is the name “Christ.” It is this very thought and truth that brings me face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that in the Last Days there will be those who will profess themselves to be Christians—those who can and will profess themselves to be Christ’s—and such a declaration might not draw the ire or angst of those before and around them. I would dare say that we might very well be preparing to enter into days when it would be socially acceptable to declare that we are Christian, for being a Christian doesn’t truly mean anything to those who hear it. When, however, you begin to take this a step further and profess yourself to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are opening up something entirely and altogether different. When, however, you begin speaking about the forgiveness of sins, and you begin fellowshipping with publicans and sinners in this life you will begin to draw the anger, the offense, the resentment, the malice, and the opposition and affliction of those before and all around you.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that we are preparing to enter into days and times when making the profession that you are a disciple and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ might very well cause you to be branded and marked. I am beginning to get the strong sense when offenses can and will begin to rise up within this nation such as never before—particularly and especially considering the fact that right now it is considered to be controversial to profess yourself to be a Republican, or part of the Republican party, or to profess that you voted for and supported Trump, and even that you disagreed with the result of the election. IF you have been paying attention to recent events you will find that those who profess themselves to be supporters of Trump, and those who professed themselves to have voted for him are marked and branded by Democrats—and not only by Democrats, but also by the Left, by liberals, and even by “Big Tech” and “Big Media.” You would have to have been living in a bubble or somehow lived a sheltered life in recent days and weeks to not understand and know that we are living in days and times in which you are branded as a potential conspirator and danger to this nation if you professed yourself to be a supporter of Trump. Pause for a moment and consider how what we are seeing play out in this nation is only on the political level, but ask yourself what would happen if this transitioned beyond the realm and arena of politics to the realm of religion. What we have been witnessing in recent weeks, months, and even over the past four years is men and women who have been branded and marked as intolerant, and racist, and conspirators, and violent, and thugs, and so much more because they were supporters of Trump. The events of recent weeks has seen a huge uptick and rise in anger, malice, resentment, hatred and offense toward those who are supporters and proponents of Trump, and even an app called Parler which had surged to the top free download in Apple’s App Store was removed from both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store—this in addition to Amazon Web Services pulling their support for the app, thus shutting it down.

            The events which we are witnessing unfolding before and all around us right now are setting a very dark and dangerous context in the political realm, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what begins in the political realm and arena might very well spill over and transition into the realm of religion. Right now all the anger, all the offense, all the resentment, all the hatred, all the venom, all the poison, and all the opposition and affliction is centered in the political realm and arena, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that what we are witnessing is the beginning of an incredibly dark and dangerous precedent that can very easily and very quickly spill over into the realm of religion. What’s more—and lest you think that this is perhaps entirely and altogether untrue—you must note and remember that in the Presidential election four years ago there was a strong number of Evangelicals who voted for and showed their support for Trump. I would dare say that even in this recent election which took place only a few months ago—there were a number of Evangelicals who voted for Trump. If you read and study the history of the burning of Rome and the persecution of Christians you will find that when Rome was burning Nero blamed the Christians for the flames and the inferno—a context that set the groundwork and framework for rampant and widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. While America wasn’t set on fire, and while there wasn’t a raging inferno, we did witness the Capitol Building marched upon, invaded, and destruction taking place within it as a mob entered into the halls of the building and unleashed mayhem and chaos. It is because of what took place in the Capitol Building that many men and women have lost their jobs, have lost support, have lost friendships and relationships, and have been deemed as being “enemies of the state” and “conspirators.”

            We must not quickly dimiss this particular truth as being altogether speculative, for what we witnessed last week set a dark and dangerous precedent for individuals who took part in the riot—and not only those who took part in the riot, but those who expressed opposition to the election results, and those who professed support and allegiance to Trump—to be blacklisted, put on the “no fly list,” branded as “Nazis,” fired from their jobs, and so much more. The events which took place a week ago today set in motion a dark and dangerous precedent within this nation for the government—and not only the government, but also the big tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, as well as big media companies such as CNN—to rise up in stark opposition to that which is taking place within our nation. We have witnessed the ostracizing of senators and congressmen and congresswomen. We have witnessed the ostracizing of those who voted for, and those who still continue to support Trump being labeled as “conspirators,” and “seditious.” Oh dear reader—it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand what is present within this nation right now is indeed taking place and playing out on the political stage and the political arena, however, when Rome burned Nero blamed the Christians for the blaze and the inferno. It was that political context and framework that set the precedent for persecution to begin against the Christians. Nero would blame the Christians for setting and starting the fire within and upon Rome, and it was that declaration and that proclamation that strokes a different fire to begin raging within Rome—namely, the fire of persecution against Christians. What we witnessed in Washington, D.D. took place and is playing out in the political realm and arena, however, it set a strong and dark precedent for the government, big tech companies and big media to impose their will, their agenda, their plans, their purposes, and even what they deem as being appropriate upon this nation. We have witnessed those within the government—together with big tech and big media companies—rising up in strong opposition against political figures, social media platforms, and even those who have been “allegedly” connected to that which took place in the Capitol Building on Wednesday of last week.

            Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by that which took place within Rome—particularly and especially surrounding the fire which consumed a great portion of the city—for Nero who was the most powerful political and world leader during that time used it as a context to launch a campaign of persecution against the Christians. There are those who not only believed that Nero himself set the fire, but also that while Rome was burning Nero fiddled on his fiddle. Pause for a moment and think about what took place in Rome, for it has been believed that Nero was the one who set the fire and inferno in the midst of Rome—or at least sanctioned and ordered it—and while that fire was raging within and ravaging the city he was playing on his fiddle. When the flames of the fire were finally put out and the smoke and dust had settled there was a powerful context and precedent that was put in motion for Nero to begin rising up against Christians within and throughout the city of Rome, and even the Roman Empire itself. From that time on Christians began to be imprisoned, Christians began to be tortured, and Christians even began to be martyred and put to death. Countless Christians were crucified, were thrust into the arena to be slaughtered by gladiators, or even mauled and torn to pieces by ravenous and ferocious beasts. There were other Christians who were burned alive at the stake as a direct result of this persecution. Oh beloved, please do not miss and please do not lose sight of what took place in Rome, for there are historians who would write and declare that Nero was behind the inferno within the city, and it was Nero who ordered and sanctioned the city to be set on fire. It would be that political context that would help Nero further his agenda in the midst of Rome by persecuting Christians however he deemed fit, and however he deemed necessary and appropriate.

            If there is one thing I must needs say it’s that I do not at all know who is ultimately behind and responsible for the riot, the insurrection, and the chaos and destruction that ensued a week ago today. There are many within this nation—from big tech companies, to big media, to senators, to congressmen and congress women, to Senate minority and majority leaders, to judges, and even countless Americans—who stand behind and stand by the fact that the current President of this nation was behind the attempted coup and insurrection which took place in the Capitol Building. I do firmly believe that there are those—and perhaps there even is that one person—who is and who was behind the events which took place on that day. Moreover, I would dare say that there were those who were behind the riots and protests which took place in big cities within and throughout this nation in recent months after the alleged murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I would dare say that there were those who were indeed behind all the riots and devastation and destruction which took place within this nation and country as businesses and stores were vandalized and destroyed by protestors and rioters. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for the events which have taken place within this nation have stood to serve as a powerful context and precedent for the events which took place at the Capitol Building on Wednesday. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that the events which took place on Wednesday have served to provide a framework for vehement opposition against all those who would dare speak against the Democratic party, the President-elect, and the like. What’s more, is that much of the angst, much of the ire, much of the anger, much of the opposition and persecution is not even necessarily because of who men and women are speaking against, but rather who they are supporting and who they have supported. If and as you consider the events which have taken place within this nation you will find that much of the opposition that has risen up among us is centered upon who you voted for in the past two elections, who you are showing your support and allegiance to, and whether or not you opposed the election results and would dare speak of potential voter and election fraud.

            It is my belief and personal conviction that what we are witnessing and what we are beholding within this nation right now is the foundation and framework for an even greater context that is being set for those who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to be marked, to be branded, and to be vehemently opposed, afflicted and persecuted within this nation. Could you imagine a day when Twitter accounts, when Facebook accounts, when Instagram accounts, and when other social media accounts are shut down because men and women profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ? Stop for a moment and think about what would and what could happen if men and women started experiencing their social media accounts being shut down, suspended and deactivated because they showed their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Right now it is centered upon a political figure, however, I would dare say that there is coming a day when it will center around a different figure, and that figure is the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now the events which took place at the Capitol Building serve as context and precedent to brand those who took part in it—and/or even those who did not necessarily oppose it—to be branded as conspirators and insurrectionists. Oh could you imagine a day when those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ could be branded as insurrectionists and conspirators within this nation? What would you think and what would you make of those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ being marked and branded as enemies of the states and national combatants that are dangerous and offensive to this nation—even to the Constitution itself? It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found within the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

            “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:40-42).

            I SEND YOU FORTH AS SHEEP IN THE MIDST OF WOLVES! BEWARE OF MEN! THEY WILL DELIVER YOU UP TO THE COUNCILS! THEY WILL SCOURGE YOU IN THEIR SYNAGOGUES! YE SHALL BE BROUGHT BEFORE GOVERNORS AND KINGS FOR MY SAKE, FOR A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM AND THE GENTILES! WHEN THEY DELIVER YOU UP, TAKE NOT THOUGHT HOW OR WHAT YE SHALL SPAKE! THE BROTHER SHALL DELIVER UP THE BROTHER TO DEATH, AND THE FATHER THE CHILD! THE CHILDREN SHALL RISE UP AGAINST THEIR PARENTS, AND CAUSE THEM TO BE PUT TO DEATH! YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE! WHEN THEY PERSECUTE YOU IN THIS CITY, FLEE YE INTO ANOTHER! WHOSOEVER THEREFORE SHALL CONFESS ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I CONFESS ALSO BEFORE MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN! WHOSOEVER SHALL DENY ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I ALSO DENY BEFORE MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN! A MAN’S FOES SHALL BE THEY OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD! HE THAT LOVETH FATHER OR MOTHER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME! HE THAT LOVETH SON OR DAUGHTER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME! HE THAT TAKETH NOT HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOWERTH AFTER ME, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME! HE THAT FINDETH HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT! HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT!

            It would be very easy to read the words which are written and recorded in this passage of Scripture and to see it solely through the lens of ministry—preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, and the like. There would be those who would read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and see it solely in terms of ministry and that which we do for the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that this particular passage of Scripture is not as much about what we do for Christ as much as it is about who we are for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is when we read the words found within this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that we are either disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, or we are simply those who profess to walk with and follow Him and yet who neither confess Him before men, nor lose their lives for the sake of the gospel and the name of Christ. We have a tremendous need to read and pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage is a powerful declaration that those who love family more than Jesus are not worthy of Him—either in this life, or in the next. Moreover, those who do not take up their cross and follow after Christ is not worthy of Him. Furthermore, we find Jesus emphatically declaring that those who find their life shall lose it, and those who lose their life for His sake shall find it. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which are found here bring us face to face with a powerful call to and a powerful call for discipleship. We dare not and must not ignore and reject this truth, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find here presents a strong and powerful picture for what is so desperately needed in this day and in this generation. There are many who profess themselves to be “Christians” in this life—even many who profess themselves to be Christians within the church—whom I would dare say are not disciples and followers of Jesus, and those who would not confess Jesus in this life. There are many among us within this nation who profess themselves to be Christians, and yet it is nothing more than a façade and smoke and mirrors.

            I have written how I believe offenses can and will begin within this nation, and I firmly believe that with that the resolve, the endurance, the patience, the courage, the faith, and the trust of countless men and women is going to be tested in this life. There is not a doubt in my mind that in the coming days, weeks and months we are going to see countless men and women who are going to have their faith tested and tried as the words they speak and the lifestyle they live are going to anger and offend those before and around them. It’s interesting when reading the words which Jesus spoke in this passage of Scripture that He didn’t merely speak of the religious realm, but He also spoke concerning the political realm and sphere as well. Jesus spoke about the synagogues and councils, thus indicating speaking about the religious systems and establishments of that day, but He also spoke concerning kings and governors, which is a clear and present indication for and unto us that when we think about this offense and these offenses which are going to rise up in the coming days before and ahead of us we must needs realize that it is going to take place in the political realm as well as the religious arena. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that in many ways there are going to be organizations, churches, church leaders, ministries, and even denominations that are going to be in league with the political forums and arenas, and as a direct result can and will cause countless men and women who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to be marked and branded as “insurrectionists” and “conspirators.”

            I cannot escape the thought of the fires which burned within Rome, and how while those fires burned—and even when the fires ceased burning and the smoke and dust settled—Nero used the fire as a context and pretext to begin persecuting Christians within the city of Rome. It would be because of the fires which raged within Rome that served as the catalyst for the great persecution against Christians which would break out in Rome. What makes this all the more astonishing and intriguing is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that there would be those who spoke of Nero himself being behind the fires, and how Nero not only sanctioned, but also authorized and approved the fires burning within Rome. Whether or not Nero sought to use the fires as means to persecute the Christians and to persecute the Church we can’t say for sure, however, we can be absolutely certain that he used the fires which burned in Rome—and perhaps even the civil unrest that mounted as a direct result—as a context and pretext to engage in persecution against the Church and against Christians. I cannot help but see a strong and powerful parallel that exists between the fires which burned in Rome, the fires which have burned in America, the riots and protests that have erupted within this nation, the civil unrest that has taken place within this nation, and even the assault on the Capital Building as the beginning of a powerful campaign that will be launched against the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are going to enter into days in the coming weeks, months—and perhaps even over the course of the next few years—when there will be a strong and powerful campaign launched and mounted against those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine what would and could have happened in Rome if Nero had social media and media at his disposal to broadcast his venom, his poison, his toxic mindset and behaviors. Imagine what could have happened if during those days Nero had Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram to help stroke the fires of persecution against the Christians and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know what Nero was able to do without social media and without media during those days and times, and yet I cannot help but think about how much more severe it would and could have been had he had access to social media.

            We have heard reports of individuals being threatened to be put on the “no fly” list because of their political affiliation and their opinions regarding the events which took place in the Capitol Building. We know that over the past several years gender lines have been blurred to where it is no longer simply male or female, but it is now non-binary, transgender, etc. I can’t help but wonder if there are going to be times to come in the days and weeks before us when being a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ is going to be a distinction that is being made within this nation, and whether or not men and women will have to check off a box whether or not they are a Christian and/or disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. Could you imagine being banned from flights because you are a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ? Could you imagine being fired from your job, or perhaps being passed over for a promotion on your job because of your profession to be a disciple and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ? Could you imagine having all social media accounts blocked, suspended and/or deactivated because you are a professing disciple and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ? Could you imagine being branded, marked, labeled, criticized and publicly ridiculed within the media because you are a professing disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Right now we are seeing Republicans, those who supported and voted for Trump, and those who oppose the agenda of the left and what men and women have labeled as “the Deep State” being blacklisted, singled out, marginalized, vilified, vehemently opposed, and the like. We are witnessing a national assault on freedom of speech which has seen big tech companies and big media attempting to stifle what men and women can and should say—a move which I am absolutely and completely convinced can and will thrust this nation into an incredibly dark and dangerous place.

            I am sitting here right now and I can’t help but get the strong sense within my heart and spirit that what we are witnessing within the days and times in which we are living is the spirit of antichrist at work within the earth—even at work within this nation—and what we are witnessing in the political realm is only the beginning. I am absolutely convinced that what is beginning in the political sphere and arena within this nation is going to and will indeed transition and spill over into the religious realm. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we are witnessing is how the spirit of antichrist can and will attempt to assault and attack the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ within this nation, and we dare not and must not be naïve to think and even consider that the spirit of antichrist hasn’t been at work in this nation, nor will even be at work within the nation. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the spirit of the antichrist has long been at work within this nation working behind the scenes, and what we are witnessing and beholding in recent days, weeks and months is the powerful working of that spirit in and among this nation. Right now we are witnessing the putting down of all those who support a President within this nation, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is only going to be a matter of time before we begin seeing a powerful resistance and opposition toward against all those who profess allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not think that Jesus’ words concerning His disciples being hated of all men for His sake applied only to the disciples and the early church and that those disciples and followers of Jesus in America are somehow exempt. We are witnessing and beholding civil liberties, freedom of speech, and so much more coming under brutal attack and assault within this nation, and it is with this in mind that we must needs realize that it is only a matter of time before it is not those who support a President, or a political party who are silenced and who have those in government, those in the media, and those in big tech companies rising up against them, but rather those who profess allegiance to the name of Jesus Christ.

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in the ninth chapter, and the more I consider the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament gospel the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that we as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ desperately need to prepare and make ourselves ready with patience endurance, courage, boldness, confidence and faith within our hearts and our spirits as there are coming times ahead of us when our faith will be tested and called into question. I am absolutely and completely convinced that just as Nero used the burning of Rome as a pretext and context to unleash persecution upon Christians, so also will government officials—even government officials who were elected by the people and fore the people—will use events which are transpiring before and all around us as a context to unleash persecution against the saints of God and the disciples of Christ. We dare not be so naïve to think and consider—even for a brief moment—that what we are facing and experiencing during these days is not a powerful pretext and powerful context for a tremendous and powerful force to be awakened and unleashed against the disciples of Jesus Christ. As I continue to consider the events which are taking place within this nation at this present time I am absolutely captivated and gripped with and by the tremendous fact that we are living in and approaching times when it is no longer going to be acceptable and accepted to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is coming a day and time when what we have relegated simply to overseas in Middle Eastern countries, and Asian counties as persecution of Christians there can and will be unleashed within and upon this nation.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I am finding myself encountering and coming face to face with the truly astounding and remarkable truth that we as the disciples of Jesus need to make ourselves ready and prepare ourselves to enter into an intense period and season of trial, testing, tribulation and temptation. We are witnessing the beginning of what might very well be the single greatest assault on what we know as Christianity within this nation. Even though this nation was founded on Christian principles by our founding fathers, and even though our currency declares that we are one nation under God—there is strong evidence to suggest that this simply is not the case. Oh I firmly believe that just as social media platforms are being shut down and political voices are being silenced within this nation, so also can and will church buildings be shut down, and so also will ministries and religious organizations be shut down. What are witnessing right now is a powerful alarm and wakeup call to us as the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ to make ourselves ready and to get prepared for that which can and will come in the days ahead. The church—and by “the church” I mean the true Church and body of Jesus Christ—must needs make themselves ready and prepare themselves with tremendous courage, with tremendous boldness, with tremendous patience, and with tremendous confidence and faith to be able to stand and withstand in the coming days. The words we find in the tenth chapter of this gospel narrative aren’t simply words which speak to ministry and laboring with Christ in the work of the kingdom of heaven, but the words we find in this chapter are about discipleship. At the very heart, at the very core and at the very foundation of this passage is a clarion and powerful call to rise up as disciples and followers of Jesus Christ who recognize and understand the power struggle that surrounds both the political arena, as well as the religious arena. It is no coincidence Jesus mentioned councils and synagogues, as well as governors and kings, for with these words Jesus not only touched in the political arena during those days, but also the religious arena as well. Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep among wolves and instructed them to be harmless as doves, but wise as serpents in the midst of the generation in which they were living.

If you as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ want to truly understand the days and times in which we are living we must needs recognize and understand that when Jesus sent His disciples into the world He sent them into it preparing to be hated of all men for His sake. What’s more, is Jesus instructed His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, and those who did not take up their cross and deny themselves were not worthy of Him. Oh there are two terrifying indictments which are found within this passage—the first is being denied before the Father who is in heaven because we were afraid and ashamed to confess Christ in this life, and the second is potentially being found unworthy of Christ because we love father and mother more than Him, and because we were not willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross that we might follow Him. There are incredibly sobering words and realities which are found within these verses and we as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ need to prepare ourselves to love nothing and no one more than Christ, to confess the Lord Jesus Christ in this life and within the earth, and to deny ourselves and take up the cross. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus speak of loving nothing and no one more than Him, but Jesus also spoke of losing ones life that they might in turn find it. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—are you one who is not only willing to lose your life that you might find it, but also love nothing and no one more than the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you willing to truly deny yourself, take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you willing to confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in this life and profess allegiance and fellowship to the Lord Jesus Christ above and before anything and anyone else? How you answer these questions can and will determine how Christ responds to you—and not only how Christ responds to you, but also how you will spend eternity, and where you will spend eternity. Oh that we would be a people who would boldly profess and confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we would be men and women who are unashamed and unafraid to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in this life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s