This week many Christians around the world will be remembering the final week of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly life.
It was on the Thursday of what in some traditions is called Holy Week that the Lord celebrated the Passover with His disciples, and taught them for the last time.
At this crucial stage in His ministry – the evening before the crucifixion – Christ reminds His disciples of the reality of persecution.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). There are many different reasons why our brothers and sisters in different regions and cultural contexts suffer persecution – but ultimately persecution takes place because the world hates Christ.
As the Lord urged the disciples that Thursday evening, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. […] They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me” (John 15:20-21).
In a sense, the arrest, trial, torture and execution of Jesus demonstrate the pattern for what His followers must be prepared for, what many of His people have faced over the centuries, and what many still face today.
Yet at the same time His death is different. The Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the foundation of the faith for which His people are prepared to suffer and die.
Christ did not die solely as a witness or for a cause. He died as the “atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
May the remembrance of our Lord’s finished, saving work on the cross be a source of strength and encouragement to His people in all parts of the world this Easter and throughout the year.