Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Mark 14:55, “Now the chief priests and the whole Counsel kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death; and they were not finding any…”

John 3:20, “For everyone who does evil hates the light…”

Jesus’ trial before the high priest was a sham of a trial in a kangaroo court. They violated their own legal code. Jewish law set forth certain legal requirements for such trials:
• No trials were to be conducted at night.
• The admission of conflicting testimonies was not allowed.
• The use of false witnesses was not permissible.
• Witnesses were to be interviewed separately.
• Charges were to be based on a plurality of corroborating witnesses.
• The judges were to act impartially.

Such requirements were recklessly abandoned in a frenzied passion to rid the planet of its creator. “They kept trying to obtain testimony.” The truth was not important to the case. His crime was that He had committed no crime. His purity had made evident their impurity. The only solution—put the divine Son of God to death.

Jesus submitted Himself to the process. “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly…For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…and while being reviled, He did not reviled in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:19-24). The passage speaks to several relevant and important truths:

• Jesus suffered unjustly, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.
• Through His death He bore our sins that we might be saved.
• As His followers we will suffer unjustly too (Cf. Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12).
• We are to follow in His steps (i.e. “patiently endure it,” 1 Peter 2:20).

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death by the Iranian government. His crime? Being a Christian. Nadarkhani was born in the city of Rasht in the Gilan Province of Northern Iran to Muslim parents. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, Nadarkhani turned to Christianity at the age of 19, becoming a member of the Only Jesus Church in Rasht. Nadarkhani claims he was never a practicing Muslim.

For the past 10 years, Nadarkhani has pastored for a network of house churches. Before his arrest in 2009, he was the pastor of a 400-person congregation in the Gilan province. Nadarkhani was originally arrested in Dec. 2006 for being a pastor. He was accused of apostasy (leaving Islam for Christianity) and attempting to evangelize Muslims. He was later released.

In Oct. 2009, Nadarkhani learned that his two Christian sons, Daniel and Yoel (currently 9 and 7 years old, respectively) would be taught about Islam in their local schools, as approved by the government. Nadarkhani went to his children's schools to protest, and was arrested.

On Oct. 12, 2009, a political tribunal in Rasht charged him for protesting, and he was imprisoned in a jail in Lakan, a city seven miles south of his hometown of Rasht. Nadarkhani's charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. Nadarkhani repeatedly refused to recant his Christian faith. He was sentenced to death by the Iranian government.

Under International pressure Iran backtracked, saying that no execution order had been announced, and that he was being held not for apostasy, but for rape and “other crimes,” according to the Islamic Republic’s state-controlled Press TV.

If history is any judge they will keep “trying to obtain testimony” against him (Mark 14:55). His crime is not any crime per se, but the lack of crime (he has aligned himself with the truth). The attacks are directed through him to the ultimate judge Himself. Hatred of Christ spills over to His followers. The truth, the light, is unwelcome in Iran. Those who bear it must be extinguished.

Youcef’s example ought to encourage us. In this age of compromise and luke-warm Christianity, Youcef has refused to deny His Lord and Savior. The Apostle Paul faced the same challenges and exhorted Timothy to stand firm. He wrote, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned” (2 Timothy 2:8-9). The extinguishment of the true light was temporary, His gospel message still shines. Light-bearers can be extinguished, but the truth can never be. Though every judge on earth sentence the truth to death, truth will triumph!

Pray for Youcef. God has His own ways to strengthen and minister to His faithful servants. But He has commanded us: “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3). He is a brother in Christ and our hearts are burdened with loving concern for him and his family. Let us be careful to remember them--and all of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world--in our prayers.

Pastor Jerry

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