Chapter 6: Evidences That Demand A Verdict - Accepting martyrdom for the sake of the crucified Christ
3. Accepting martyrdom for the sake of the crucified Christ.
The book of Acts tells us of the martyrdom of Stephen, one of the seven chosen deacons (Acts 7:54-60) and of James, one of the apostles (Acts 12:1,2).
History tells us that Paul and Peter were martyred upon the command of the emperor Nero.
The Christians of the early centuries lived in the catacombs in Rome and suffered torture and death by fierce lions at the Coliseum.
During the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (AD 162-180) Polycarp was martyred.
Polycarp, who was a student of the apostle John and the overseer of the church in Smyrna, heard that soldiers were looking for him and tried to escape but was discovered by a child. After feeding the guards who captured him, he asked for an hour in prayer, which they gave him. He prayed with such fervency, that his guards said they were sorry that they were the ones who captured him. Nevertheless, he was taken before the governor and condemned to be burned in the market place.
After his sentence was given, the governor said to him, "Reproach Christ and I will release you."
Polycarp answered, "Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never once wronged me. How then shall I blaspheme my King who has saved me?"
In the market place, he was tied to the stake rather than nailed, as was the usual custom, because he assured them he would stand immovable in the flames and not fight them. As the dry sticks placed around him were lit, the flames rose up and circled his body without touching him. The executioner was then ordered to pierce him with a sword. When he did, a great quantity of blood gushed out and put out the fire. Although his Christian friends asked to be given his body as it was so they could bury him, the enemies of the Gospel insisted that it be burned in the fire, which was done (The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, page 16,17).
All those were martyred for their belief in the crucified and risen Christ.
No one will die for what he believes to be a lie.