READ: 1 Samuel 16-18, Psalm 86, John 18, Philippians 1
Jesus, knowing all things that would come upon Him (suffering and death), “went forward” (John 18:4) to drink the cup the Father gave Him (v. 11) for He accepted that it was expedient for one man to die for the people (v. 14). If it takes one missionary (or more) to die that every unreached people group on earth be reached with the gospel, this is a worthwhile and affordable expense. This is an expediency we can, and must, embrace. The peoples of the world are worth immeasurably more: the death of God’s own Son. If many missionary deaths are gently graphic reminders of the supreme sacrifice for sin – we will gladly pay them. Oh the joy of the martyr and the rescued people when they reunite around the eternal throne in worship! Missionary deaths will seem a glorious bargain for such a yield and we will wonder that we were so reluctant to pay more.
Mission to Muslims will increasingly be based on prison, suffering, and martyrdom. Our chains will bring an opportunity for the defense and confirmation of the gospel (Phil. 1:7). Our chains are Christ’s will and they will serve for the furtherance of the gospel (v. 13). Frankly God will send us to prison intentionally so that His love may be displayed to those who persecute us, that His gospel will be set on trial and shine. Our prisons will be God’s show room – He will illuminate them as hostile people shuffle through as if to say: “Look what the gospel can do!” When we suffer gloriously, when we embrace prison, when we stop fleeing contexts of violence and die well among our brothers, it will inspire confidence. Our commitment to suffering will make the “brethren…much more bold to speak the word without fear” (v. 13). Our fearlessness of death and suffering is proof (in the moment of testing as well as before the trial) to the enemies of the gospel that the truth is found in Jesus.
Suffering is the great gift God gives to His people, which they continually refuse to open (v. 29). Suffering is as much a gift as salvation. Suffering and death are personal gain for they promote us to the presence of Jesus. There is a sweet communion with Jesus (a fellowship) available only to those who suffer for His name. Eternal, unequaled sweetness waits for us in heaven. This being true, why are Christians so reluctant to go to heaven? Suffering and death are corporate blessing because Jesus never wastes a martyr’s death – it is expedient for one (or more) missionaries to die for unreached peoples. Oh the joy of participating in all nations worshipping Jesus – by life and by death. Knowing this, let us go forward and drink our cup.