At Last I Am Beginning To Be a Disciple

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks before his death, a believer named Ignatius wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome while he was on his way there to be executed by the Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). The words below come from that letter and give us a little insight into what early Christians believed it meant to be a disciple of Jesus.

The Letter of Ignatius to the Romans 3.3-6

The work is not a matter of persuasive rhetoric; rather, Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world. …

Let me be food for the wild beasts, through whom I can reach God. I am God’s wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, so that I may prove to be pure bread … Then I will truly be the disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world will no longer see my body. Pray to the Lord on my behalf, so that through these instruments I may prove to be a sacrifice to God. … I am even now still a slave. But if I suffer, I will be a freedman of Jesus Christ and will rise up free in him. In the meantime, as a prisoner I am learning to desire nothing. …

[The Roman guards] only get worse when they are well treated. Yet because of their mistreatment I am becoming more of a disciple; nevertheless I am not thereby justified. May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove to be prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me quickly, not as they have done with some, whom they were too timid to touch. And if when I am willing and ready they are not, I will force them. … Now at last I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing visible or invisible envy me, so that I may reach Jesus Christ. Fire and cross and battles with wild beasts, mutilation, mangling, wrenching of bones, the hacking of limbs, the crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil—let these come upon me, only let me reach Jesus Christ!

Neither the ends of the earth nor the kingdoms of this age are of any use to me. It is better for me to die for Jesus Christ than to rule over the ends of the earth. Him I seek, who died on our behalf; him I long for, who rose again for our sake. … Allow me to be an imitator of the suffering of my God. If anyone has him within, let that person understand what I long for …

Follow Benjamin Williams:

Pulpit Minister for Glenpool Church of Christ (Glenpool, OK); BS in Astrophysics from University of Oklahoma; MDiv in Ministry from Oklahoma Christian Graduate School of Theology

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