“Let us also go, so that we may die with him.”
While most Christians do not die as martyrs on account of their faith, the Apostle Thomas set a good example of willingness to follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice.
Two attempts against Jesus’ life had already been made in Judea. (John 8:59; 10:31)
Still, Jesus courageously returned to the area with the intention of resurrecting his friend, Lazarus. (John 11:11,14,15)
Jesus later emphasized the need to be self-sacrificing when he returned to Jerusalem a week before his death.
He prayed, “Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27,28)
Jesus knew he was about to endure a great deal of pain, but he put his Father’s plan before his own comfort.
He trusted his followers would be willing to do the same, and Jehovah blesses them for that. (John 12:25,26)
“From now on the Son of man will be seated at the powerful right hand of God.”
Jesus kept a positive outlook throughout his trials, even knowing he was about to be executed.
He could have focused on the immediate pain and humiliation, the recent betrayal of his friends, or the impending agony he was about to endure on account of the sins of others.
Instead of doubting his father’s will, he proudly announced his solid hope of being reunited with his father before the ungodly violent audience of men who held his immediate fate in their hands.
More evidence of Jesus’ optimism comes from the words he told Peter even while knowing Peter would deny knowing him:
“[…] And you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus never doubted the good in Peter’s heart and openly assured him of it.
This leads me to ask myself if I am as open to seeing the good in others and offering reassurance.
Do I focus on the moment so much that I lose sight of what really matters, like my standing before God?
A hopeful attitude can turn a painful situation into a blessing.
“[…] Will not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, while he is patient toward them?”
When we or someone we love is undergoing an unusual amount of suffering due to illness or persecution, we may wonder how God can be so patient. (2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 6:9,10)
He promises to remove all evil, pain and even death, but as we personally face trials, that relief can seem far off in the horizon. (Ps. 37:9; Rev. 21:4)
Jesus said we should pray tirelessly, like the widow who sought justice in his illustration.
But Jehovah is a much more speedy judge than the one who initially ignored the widow.
How can we be sure Jehovah isn’t ignoring us?
Jesus made it clear that we need to pray with an extraordinary amount of faith. (Luke 18:8)
Though we may not physically see the answer to our prayers, we can be sure Jehovah has already taken the necessary steps to ensure lasting justice to us both individually and globally. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The real question is, can we endure the wait?
“I must go on today, tomorrow, and the following day, because it cannot be that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem.”
Jesus says this while traveling east from Perea back towards Jerusalem, where he knows he will be killed.
Despite Herod’s threats, he still has work to be done. He knows he has nothing to fear while he carries out his commission to the end.(Luke 13:31,32)
Today, we never know what we will encounter when we go out into the community to fulfill our ministry.
Regardless of what obstacles we face, we know God is on our side and we do not let man intimidate us into inactivity. (Prov. 29:25)
To that effect, it helps to meditate on people such as the prophet Elijah and the apostle Peter, who learned to be brave in their ministry. (1 Ki. 19:2-18; Mark 14:66-71; Gal. 2:11,12; 2 Pet. 3:14,15)
“Why are you so afraid? Do you not yet have any faith?”
Jesus did not expect his disciples to shut down a storm at sea on command, the way he had.
But he did expect them to remain calm.
Some problems life throws at us can make us feel powerless and we can become so anxious that we become ungrounded from our faith and spiritual routine.
We should have faith that Jehovah and Jesus look out for us regardless of what happens.
When we pray, God gives us the power and soundness of mind to face our obstacles. (2 Co. 4:7)
And we trust that nothing can permanently harm those who are in God’s love. (Ro. 8:38,39)
“[…] The sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside.”
Jesus knew his Jewish contemporaries would reject him as the Messiah.
As God’s people, they were the first to have the opportunity of joining Jesus in his heavenly kingdom. (Gal. 3:29; Heb. 6:17,18)
But most rejected the signs that its king, Jesus, was walking amongst them. (Matt. 12:38-40)
Perhaps they expected the Messiah to rebel against Roman rule and establish God’s kingdom there and then. (Dan. 7:14; Luke 23:2; John 18:33-35)
Still, Jesus continued to carry out his ministry until the end, confident that God would bless all who eventually followed him. (Matt. 8:11, 20:28)
We do not know who will listen to us when we share God’s kingdom message in our communities, and most reject it.
But we can imitate Christ by enduring with a positive attitude.
“Also, what do you have against me, […]
Are you repaying me for something?
If you are repaying me,
I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”
It would be a mistake to try to judge God by our own imperfect standards when he is the ultimate judge of what is and is not righteous. (Is. 55:9)
Even when we do not understand why God lets us tolerate a painful situation, the wise course is to demonstrate patience and faith that God still does care for us and will eventually make all right. (1 Pet. 5:7; Rev. 21:5)
It would be shortsighted of us to draw away from God to follow a selfish course of sin, perhaps without ever repenting and eventually incurring his wrath.
On the other hand, if we remember he is not responsible for our suffering, we can rely on his strength to help us endure. (Job 34:10; Ps. 55:22)