The picture was difficult to look at, twenty-one orange clad men kneeling before their executioners. Egyptian Christians. Their executioners called them “the people of the cross”. In those moments before death, I wonder what was going through their minds? They realized this was it….their entire lives came down to these last moments. Their deaths were imminent. Did they cry? Did they scream? Did they plead for their lives?
Or did they kneel silently, knowing the truth?
The truth that although their bodies would be killed, their spirits could not. The moment they ceased to breathe in this life, they would take their first breath in their new life. With Jesus, the One who died first, willingly….for them. For us. Before we even knew who He was. He loved us, though the world knew Him not.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.… John 1:9-11
The people of the cross……they know Him.
They worship Him. He, alone, is worthy.
They are martyred for the privilege of following the One true God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
As fellow “followers of the cross”, we know this temporary life is not all there is…..and it is all temporary whether an infant takes one breath in this world, or an individual lives to be one hundred years old….in the scope of eternity it is all short. We are in this world, but not of this world. We are on a journey, during the years we have here, and we each need to learn to travel light.
God included in His word, a history, a reminder, found in the book of Hebrews. None of this, that we see today on the news, is really new. We, believers, come from a long line of the faithful. Every time I read chapter eleven in Hebrews I am filled with awe and reverence.
….All these people <Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses…> were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16
…..And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:32-40
Christ followers. Christians. People of the Way. Believers.
PEOPLE OF THE CROSS.