Crucified Again — Sharing Yeshua's Sufferings
10 August 2013
yesterday's article I started a review of the book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim. Today's article is a second-part continuation of that review.
As I wrote in part one, Mr. Ibrahim and most of mainstream worldwide Christianity seem to feel that persecution of Christians is a surprising and unnatural occurrence which should be avoided at all costs. This faulty religious Christian worldview is completely at odds with what the New Testament teaches about persecution, as I demonstrated last time.
Furthermore, Mr. Ibrahim maintains that the Islamic persecution of Christians is causing Yeshua (Jesus, Isa) to be crucified all over again, and is subjecting Him to public disgrace — an out-of-context quote from Hebrews 6:6. As I pointed out before, the context of Hebrews 6 clearly shows that it is NOT referring to persecution, but to apostate Christians.
However, the New Testament DOES have something to say about the connection between our suffering as Christians and Yeshua's sufferings on the execution stake (cross). But rather than being a negative thing, as Mr. Ibrahim believes, the New Testament refers to it in a positive light. Let's take a look at some verses and ponder their meaning. We'll start with a verse I quoted in the last article:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Messiah, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Messiah, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.... If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:12-14,16,17,19)The context makes clear that Peter is talking about persecution for being a Christian — "if you are insulted because of the name of Messiah ... if you suffer as a Christian..." When you experience such persecution as a follower of Yeshua, "you participate in the sufferings of Messiah." So, in some spiritual or mystical sense, when Christians are persecuted, because they are a part of the Body of Messiah, it's like He is crucified again as His followers participate in His sufferings.
This idea is made even clearer by Yeshua Himself when He appeared to Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus:
As Saul neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The voice replied, "I am Yeshua, whom you are persecuting." (Acts 9:3-5)Saul was not physically persecuting Yeshua Himself, because Yeshua had already returned to Father God in heaven. But Saul was severly persecuting Yeshua's followers, which Yeshua equates with persecuting Himself. Very interesting! Later on in life, Paul made statements like...
I want to know Messiah — yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death... (Philippians 3:10)In his awesome book, Breaking the Islam Code, author J.D. Greear comments on this verse:
I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my body what is still lacking in regard to Messiah's afflictions [or wounds], for the sake of His body, which is the Church. (Colossians 1:24)
What could be "lacking" in the wounds of Christ? Didn't Jesus finish the work of salvation? In one sense, yes. However, in another, the work of the cross in not finished. The news of the cross has to be shared with others to be of any real value to them. That's where we come in. The gospel will go forward in Muslims only through our wounds. Wounds are not simply an unfortunate byproduct of our witness to Muslims, but the means by which they will hear and believe.Yeshua's persecution and suffering and death were not in vain. On the contrary, it was precisely these things which brought eternal salvation and life to all of mankind. As followers of Yeshua the Messiah, our persecution and suffering and death at the hands of Muslims are not in vain. On the contrary, it is precisely these things which will bring eternal salvation and life to those enslaved by the demonic ideology of Islam.
If suffering were only an occasional consequence of preaching the gospel, we might be able to figure out how to avoid suffering, sacrifice, and death and still accomplish our mission. But we cannot. For the gospel to really live in Muslims, we will have to pour out our lives for them as Jesus poured his out for us.... When the gospel begins to flourish among Muslims, persecution will come. Some believers will suffer and die. It's always been that way.
If we are really serious about seeing Muslims come to Christ, we must be willing to pay the price. Reaching Muslims cost Jesus his life. If we are to reach Muslims, it will cost us ours as well.
Yeshua loved us enough to willingly lay down His life so that we might be saved from sin and eternal damnation. Are we willing to imitate Him, to follow Him, by laying down our lives for the Muslims He already died for? Or, like many Christians, like Mr. Ibrahim in this book, will we lament and complain about the unjust persecution of Christians, as if we should expect, despite what the New Testament teaches, to have a right to live a peaceful persecution-free life?
But you may ask, "Why is this necessary? If Jesus already died for them, why would we need to? What would our death add to what Jesus has already accomplished?"
For 1,400 years, Muslims have generally NOT seen Yeshua in those called Christians, but many other things instead. When encountering Christians, Muslims have seen:
Persecution by Muslims is not something to be avoided and condemned, but something to be embraced as we seek to follow in Yeshua's footsteps and bring His salvation to the Muslims. At the same time, it refines and purifies our faith, like gold in the furnace.
I still have more I want to share in response to Mr. Ibrahim's book, but once again this article is already long enough, so I will continue in part three.