Martyrdom: Matthew 9 – 10

Repeat Miracles. The Cost of Discipleship.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34 (NIV)

Nick showed up to church crying – not actively, but eyes puffed out twice their size – so I suggested something drastic.

“Let’s skip church.”

I knew what this was about. For years now, Nick had been hovering at a depression level that could have taken a dangerous turn. It all stemmed from loneliness and body image issues and loneliness stemming from body image issues. I would never have called Nick fat, but perhaps overweight, and his desire for a girlfriend paired with his lack of success in that arena all contributed to his lack of self-esteem. He didn’t need to say anything – I knew his self-respect had taken a turn for the worst. Church would do no good. We needed to talk.

So we snuck away and wandered through the woods surrounding the church into town. We stumbled upon a makeshift paintball court, built out of wrecked car material and a hole in the ground. We sauntered around, chatting about nothing in particular, until he sat down and asked me to pray for him. I asked what about. He said just pray.

So we prayed. Just generalities – requested wisdom and calm, gave praise and adulations. I said Amen.

Nick told me he would be alone, live alone, die alone. He contended that I would be married, have kids, and be happy at an early age, and that he knew all of that would never happen for him. I told him that was ridiculous.

He said that he prayed for a gunman to come into his school, put a gun to his head, ask if he believed in God, and upon receiving the positive answer, shoot him. I paused – told him that was absurd – why would anyone want that? He said that given his situation – his destiny to be alone – it would be the most honorable way to live his life… martyred as a true follower of God.

Jesus sends out his disciples into the world with both sobering and encouraging. After endowing them with the power to heal and exorcise, he says that they will not find peace and riches by following God, but rather an eternal reward in heaven. They will be beaten and driven out of towns. Brothers and mothers will betray them. Their bodies will be destroyed, but their souls will remain intact. Finally, he concludes that he did not “come to bring peace, but a sword” (full passage quoted above).

They will be martyred, and what we know historically is that Jesus’ words came to fruition. All of the disciples were executed in horrific ways, ranging from crucifixion to vivisection. And in their hearts, they knew it was worth it.

Nick’s prophecy did not come to fruition though. He is happily married to a beautiful woman, living in a major city with a fantastic job. He worked hard to be healthy and has begun a wonderful life. Martyrdom is no longer on the table for him, and for that, I thank God.