Bringing the Text to Life

Do You Look Good On Wood? Matthew 16:21-28

In a culture awash in self-hug spiritualities, it is time for disciples of Jesus to take up their crosses and follow him.

The year ... 177 A.D.
The place ... the arena at Lyons.
The celebration ... fiesta time.
The sport ... killing criminals, runaway slaves and Christians.

A letter from the local church to a sister church in Turkey describes what happened:

The governor had the blessed ones form a procession for the enjoyment of the crowd ... Maturus, then Sanctus, Blandina and Attalus were led to face the lions in the amphitheater .... The virgin Blandina, after the whips, after the lions, after the iron chair, was at last thrown into a basket and presented to a bull. For a time, the animal tossed her, but she had now lost any sense of what was happening, thanks to her hope, her steadfast faith and her close communion with Christ (as quoted by Christopher Kelly in Times Literary Supplement, 22 December 1995, 22).

The emperor Claudius was so hooked on violence that he ordered his soldiers to turn the faces of the mauled, mutilated, dying Christians in his direction, so he could enjoy their final...

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