(Picture Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer.jpg)
From the moment I saw this painting several years ago, I’ve loved it. This is a depiction of true events. Christians in the first century were fed to wild beasts as crowds watched and cheered. These Christians were martyred for refusing to worship Caesar, and willing to die for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I want to share a couple of things that I am especially reminded of as I look at this painting:
1. This is my family
These past few weeks, we have heard about thousands of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic. By God’s mercy, no one in my immediate family has died because of it. So while I am sorry for those who have lost their lives, this pandemic would be very, very different if someone in my immediate family had died. I would go from being inconvenienced and sad to deeply grieving.
This painting depicts what happened to my actual brothers and sisters. These are not strangers, and neither are they distant relatives. There are NO distant relatives or even cousins in God’s family; there are only children of God. All who do the will of God are younger brothers and sisters of Jesus (Luke 8:21) and hence of mine too.
So this painting tells me what happened to my immediate family in Christ. I want to recognize and honor the immense boldness that my immediate family had for Jesus. These are brothers and sisters who I must look up to in the faith, and pay attention as they urge me to make the same bold stand in my life today.
2. Look who’s looking up
The people praying in this painting are at the mercy of the wild animals. But what I love most is that the animals too are looking up. The beasts could not do whatever they pleased. They were under the authority of the Creator of the Universe, and the Savior of the world.
And just like Jesus (the Creator of the world) allowed the ones He created to crucify Him, He does allow His followers to be eaten by lions, affected by viruses, killed by religious fanatics, and so on. But no animal, no virus, and no created being can touch a Christian without looking up first. Everything that touches a child of God must go through God Himself first. Because every true child of God is one who has died with Christ, and his new life is now hid with Christ. The one who touches the child of God touches the apple of God’s eye.
So yes, God in His infinite wisdom that is far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) does allow evil to happen to His children too. But every evil has to first look up and get permission.
John 19:11 - Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”