About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
I have always
suggested that the Apostle Paul's ultimate and maybe his most effective
witness for Jesus was his execution. I
am sure that he must have felt some emotional and psychological pain from
the stress of his soon to be excruciating demise.
He would have obviously experienced some momentary physical pain as
the soldier's sword sliced his head from his body, but there
had to have been more. I am
also sure that Paul felt the powerful presence of Jesus through it all.
Like Stephen (Acts 7:56) he might have seen Jesus standing at the
gate of heaven, with arms wide open, waiting for his arrival into
Philippians 1:20 is relevant to what I am saying.
"I eagerly expect and hope that in no way will I be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be
exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
hope was to never be ashamed of Jesus.
Whether in life or in death, he would have the courage to exalt the
universal supremacy of his Lord and Saviour.
Even more specifically, he believed his body, as the text states,
would magnify Jesus in death. This
was no superficial expectation. Paul
wrote these words from a Roman prison cell, most likely waiting for his
trial before Nero who would eventually have him beheaded.
He realized that his execution could be immanent.
He understood the seriousness of his situation.
The Greek future
passive indicative verb "megalyno" is translated as
"exalted" in the phrase "Christ will be exalted in my body,
either in life or in death." This
suggests that in no uncertain terms Paul expected his dead body would some
day magnify Jesus for all to see. I,
therefore, suggest that the very moment Paul's head fell from his body and
onto the ground was his ultimate witness for Jesus.
Paul put his life on the line for His Saviour.
His lifeless exterior form would have exalted Jesus just as much,
if not more, than any Holy Spirit inspired message he would have preached.
I have no clue what
Paul would have said to the soldier moments before he died.
I imagine he spoke of the love that Jesus had for the man. I also
cannot imagine how the soldier and those who witnessed Paul's execution
might have felt. Maybe those
in attendance were so cold-hearted from the routine of such executions
that they had no real emotions. On
the other hand, I cannot dispel the notion that Paul's ultimate witness in
exalting Jesus had no Holy Spirit inspired influence on those who saw his
lifeless body. I have often
wondered how many of these witnesses might have handed their lives over to
Jesus after seeing the last chapter of Paul's life's story unfold before
their very eyes.
including his death, is a source of inspiration for us.
Like you and I, he was human. If
he could be so courageous in death, I hope we can be that courageous in