“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony..” (Rev 12:11)
It’s impossible to think of Jesus’ ministry, without being reminded of the powerful impact He made on His followers after He was gone. Many leaders are honoured-some even worshiped-while they are alive. After they’re gone, however, most are soon forgotten. Jesus received little honor while on earth-eventually being executed as a common criminal. Yet, Jesus’ influence is greater today than ever before.
The ancient city of Caesarea was one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world. Herod the Great spent twelve years and the equivalent of a billion dollars building it. He dedicated the city to Caesar Augustus in 10 BC. It later became the capital of the Roman government in Judea.
Today, south of the city you will find the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre that matched those in Rome and Athens. In the days following the ascension of Jesus, this became a place of horror and death as thousands of Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Christians were lashed to poles in the center of the coliseum and eaten alive by wild animals. Women were crucified on crosses which stood around the perimeter-their murdered babies hung around their necks.
Why all this torture and killing? The Romans would not tolerate worship other than to Caesar-their god. Christians knew they could not worship both Jehovah and Caesar. They chose to die rather than to renounce Jesus.
Before being thrown to the lions, those early Christians were given a last chance to recant. Some did, and bowing before the statue of Caesar, they said: ”Caesarus este kurios”-Caesar is Lord. However, the vast majority, having been transformed by the power of the living Christ, refused to deny Him. They went to their death singing: “Christus este kurios”-Christ is Lord.
Such martyrs are among the ones described in Revelation 12; “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death…”
Caesar’s came -and went. Jesus, however, despite his death at the hands of the Romans, lives on-empowering His people with His spirit to spread the Kingdom of God to the entire world. The ministry of Jesus continues through millions of men and women like the apostle Paul, and even you and I today. The Caesar’s of this world however are forgotten, their statues buried under the rubble of decayed civilizations.
God doesn’t need more Caesar’s. He’s simply searching for a few good men and women who will not deny His Son when faced with the lions of this world. Choose life choose Christ.
Love Ken and Sharon.