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Sunday Devotional: Why do you doubt?

Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people,
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves,
for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them,
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

There is an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

That concept is “percipient witness”.

According to the Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things that the witness actually saw, heard or otherwise experienced.” Attorneys call the percipient witness “often the most important person on the crucial issue”.

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of Jesus the Christ. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, including the above passage from Matthew 14 on Jesus walking on the stormy sea.

The Apostles, who were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ many miracles, including the most important miracle, the resurrected Christ, were willing to die for their beliefs and faith, testifying to the last the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

But the testimonies of these percipient witnesses of Jesus the Christ are ignored by many.

And yet we believe 100% there was a person named Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher revered as the founder of Western political philosophy, although the time and place of his birth are unknown, and there are varying accounts of when and how he died. Even the origin of his name is unknown. As Wikipedia admits:

Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Plato’s early life and education…. The exact time and place of Plato’s birth are unknown. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens…between 429 and 423 BC…. The traditional date of Plato’s birth…428 or 427 BC, is based on a dubious interpretation of Diogenes Laërtius….

[Even] the origin of this name remains mysterious…the name does not occur in Plato’s known family line….

According to Seneca, Plato died at the age of 81 on the same day he was born. The Suda indicates that he lived to 82 years, while Neanthes claims an age of 84. A variety of sources have given accounts of his death. One story, based on a mutilated manuscript, suggests Plato died in his bed…. Another tradition suggests Plato died at a wedding feast….  According to Tertullian, Plato simply died in his sleep.

Mark 9:19, 21-24

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied,
“how long shall I stay with you?
How long shall I put up with you?….”
…[T]he boy’s father [said,]
“…But if you can do anything,
take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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