Mark 13: 9-13: The price of progress

“9 ‘You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” NIV UK

In the Bible there is an interplay between persecution and progress. This short section is, in essence, the story of Acts written in advance. The church grew significantly over a period of time, but what a price was paid in suffering. We should not be surprised when Christians are tried and arrested, or when family members ostracise us because of the faith. Of course we are saddened by it. But if we are listening carefully to Jesus we will not be taken by surprise.

In today’s reading note especially the words: ‘’On account of me’’ and ‘’because of me’’ (9,13): ‘You can belong to all sorts of religious groups today and not suffer much opposition from family and friends, but the minute you bring the name of Jesus into the picture, and share the gospel, somebody will start to oppose you. His name is still hated.’ Warren Wiersbe.’ ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary’, p.126.

That observation is surely true. It is regularly the case that to mention Jesus is to drop a bomb in the middle of a conversation – unless you are blaspheming, of course. Then it will be okay with many people. Not all, of course, but, as I say, with many. That is interesting, don’t you think?

PRAYER: If anyone stops to think about it, Lord, this hatred of your Name has to come from somewhere. I pray that the devil’s loathing of your beloved Name will not cow me into silence. Help me to feel in my very bones that this gospel ‘must’ be preached in all the world.