“For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today the Church remembers Justin, a martyr from the early second century. Raised in a pagan home, Justin converted to Christianity and taught the faith in Ephesus and Rome. Sadly, but not unexpected given his upbringing, Justin was martyred along with six others for refusing to make pagan sacrifices and the like. But all was not in vain, for Justin’s bold confession of faith would lead to a strengthening of the Christian faith in the early second century.
So what does that have to do with you or the Christian Church today? Quite a bit, actually. Justin came to faith in Jesus after being raised a pagan. Such an influence like that would be hard to overcome, and yet Justin did just that, though not without help. The Holy Spirit worked faith in him to believe in Jesus, just as the Holy Spirit has done for you. While facing great persecution for his beliefs, Justin did not relent in his confession of faith. We continue to face that reality today, as the world seems to grow ever more hostile towards the Christian Church.
In much the same way that Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of what was happening there, so, too, does He view the Church today. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). The world will be hostile to the Church and She will be persecuted for Her faith in Jesus. You, too, will be persecuted for your faith; Jesus tells us as much. Like the martyrs who have gone before us, may we remain ever faithful to the calling which we have received: faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, You found Your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, searching for the true God. Grant that all who seek for a deeper knowledge of the sublime wisdom of Your eternal Word may be found by You, who sent Your Son to seek and to save the lost; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Justin Martyr)
-Rev. Jared Tucher is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Farmers Retreat, IN, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Dewberry, IN.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Over eight sessions, The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament will lead you through the entirety of the Old Testament with daily readings, questions, and discussion prompts. After a brief introduction that reviews Christ’s earthly ministry, you will dive into the heart of the Holy Books that have spiritually nourished God’s people from creation to today! Now available from Concordia Publishing House.