“Listen, my beloved friends, don’t fear those who may want to take your life but nothing more. It’s true that they may kill your body, but they have no power over your soul. The one you must fear is God, for he has both the power to take your life and the authority to cast your soul into hell. Yes, the only one you need to fear is God.”
“What is the value of your soul to God? Could your worth be defined by an amount of money? God doesn’t abandon or forget even the small sparrow he has made. How then could he forget or abandon you? What about the seemingly minor issues of your life? Do they matter to God? Of course they do! So you never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world.” ~Luke 12:4-7, TPT
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The Palace of Versailles has 2000 windows. I didn’t know that when I stood in the courtyard trying to take in that first incredible glimpse, but even without knowing the exact number, I couldn’t fathom how one building could have so many windows.
There the second floor, you see an ornate, gold-gilded balcony. That marks the King’s bedroom, from where the King would stand in his swanky garb and address the adoring crowds below.
It wouldn’t be hard to stand there all day and stare at that glorious balcony, and those many, many windows. The glimpse from afar is mighty impressive.
But why would you content yourself with the courtyard when you can go inside? That’s where the real beauty is. The courtyard is just the barest hint of what’s to come. It’s a precursor. Pretty, but nowhere near as majestic as what’s on the other side of the door. The opulence inside is all but impossible to describe.
We humans are pretty content with this life. Most don’t ever consider what’s on the other side of the death’s door. Even those of us who have rested our whole belief on the promise that Jesus is on the other side, and that He’s waiting for us, still put our seatbelts on, and avoid walking down dark alleys, and mostly say no to bungee-jumping and skydiving. Why? Because all we know is the courtyard, and we don’t want to budge.
When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, He knew what they did not. He knew that every one of them—except for John, who escaped Domitian’s attempt to boil him to death—were headed toward an unpleasant (some would say gruesome) end.
According to church history, Peter was crucified upside down, at his request, because he said he wasn’t worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. Andrew was also crucified in Greece, after preaching in what is now Russia and Turkey. Phillip died by either crucifixion or hanging, depending on who you listen to.
Mathias was burned to death, and Matthew died by stabbing. James, the half-brother of Jesus, was taken to the pinnacle of the temple, given an opportunity to denounce his faith, and then pushed off when he refused. His killers rushed downstairs to see if he had died, and when they discovered he was still breathing, they began stoning him. A fuller (one who beat rugs) lost his patience, took his fuller’s brush, and ended James’ life with one blow to the head.
James, the son of Zebedee (the first martyr) was beheaded. Thomas was run through with spears. Simon was cut in half with a saw.
Jude was killed with arrows; Bartholomew was skinned alive, and then decapitated.
What do you suppose each of those men was thinking as they went through these tortuous deaths? Do you think they were grieving the courtyard? I doubt that very much. I’m quite certain they were anxious for the reunion with Jesus on the other side of the door. They’d seen Him dead. They’d seen Him risen. And they’d heard His promise: “You never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world.”
We learn two things in this passage:
1) God loves us more than anything in this world.
2) Some of us may endure a horrible death.
How can both of those things be true? That’s easy. Life is a teardrop; eternity is the ocean. And the glory on the other side of the door makes everything on this side pale in comparison.