In the reaction of the Jews to the healing of the man by the Pool of Bethesda by Jesus, the Bible says:
“For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.”
John 5:16 NKJV
Yes, Jesus faced persecution for healing a man on the Sabbath day. He performed a miracle on a day when He was supposed to be resting. This according to the Jews was a violation of the restrictions and lockdowns, that were put in place for the Sabbath day of rest by the law of Moses (Exodus 20:8-11).
This was one of the many instances when Jesus faced persecutions, during the three and a half years of His ministry on the earth. He was constantly on the move because of persecutions. Even while confronting His enemies, Jesus never allowed their persecutions to hold Him back from the call of God to save the world.
For us today the restrictions and lockdowns from COVID-19 gives us a foretaste, of what Jesus might had went through in His own country. What you are going through right now with the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, are nothing in comparison with what Jesus went through during His persecutions. He constantly had to fight back against the oppositions from the traditional religious leaders of His time. The miracles of Jesus had become an hindrance, to their sway and influence over the people.
And as Christians today we do have a duty to respond boldly and positively to the various governing tools, that are being manipulated to target our faith in the world during COVID-19. The eyes of the Lord are watching over the attitudes and reactions of every believer on earth today, in the midst of what is going on. He is looking for those who are willing to boldly exercise their faith (Luke 18:8), to save the lost, heal the sick and set the captives free.
Jesus is our example in all things. As His followers we need to be asking ourselves this question: “What would Jesus had done with all these restrictions everywhere?”
Don’t let the enemy get you entrapped
The enemy’s plan is to silence the voice of the believers in Christ. But he has already failed, because we will never yield or succumb to his tactic of intimidation. This is even more since we do know that, we had been made victorious over him already by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
We do know from the scriptures that the early Church’s believers were also persecuted by the Jewish leaders. They did all things possible to intimidate them through forceful imprisonments, tortures and much more. They singled out and sought out Christians for persecution. It was done with the aim of stopping the spread of Christianity.
The scriptures tells us about the reaction of Peter and John to one of the threats. They had been commanded to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ:
“But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19-20 NKJV
Peter and John would not be bordered by any of the threats. They were prepared to stand firm in the face of the persecution. That was not the end of what they did in reaction to the persecution.
The scriptures explained to us that after they had left the Jewish leaders, they assembled all believers together so as to seek the face of the Lord for direction and instruction. They never called a Church in conference meeting or a meeting of the Elders, to evaluate the situation and plan about what to do next. It was not the time for consultation with one another. Not at all. But it was the moment for them to consult directly with God.
The Bible says:
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”
Acts 4:31-35 NKJV
The early Church grew in the face of the persecution. Church history has always revealed to us that the persecution of Christians, has always brought unity into the Body of Christ. Instead of tearing Christians apart, it has always brought us stronger together in a much more powerful, effective and productive way. This was what happened to the Church at Jerusalem. You are never alone in this. The very enemy who is opposing your testimony of Jesus today, is doing the same thing to your fellow brothers and sisters worldwide.
Prosperity came into the early Church at Jerusalem with the persecution that was being experienced. Boldness came upon the early believers in Christ like never before. The devil wanted them to be quiet, but he ended up getting them more energized and better equipped, as they became much more fruitful for the Lord.
The early Church grew in spiritual, numerical and structural strength; as the new believers in Christ gained the favor of those living around them. The miracles, signs and wonders were outstanding. No one could deny them. The testimony of Jesus was too powerful for those who were persecuting the Church. The growth of the early Church was unstoppable.
Are you lacking in anything right now to do the work of the Kingdom, in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Begin by taking a closer look at your response to the coronavirus restrictions around you. You may be the one actually hindering yourself right now, from performing better with the full potential of God that is in your life.
The early Church refused to succumb to the threats from outside, to stop testifying about the miracle works of Jesus. The devil could not stop them. They stood up against the forces of darkness around them and prevailed. And you can do likewise today also.
In the face of the persecution we saw that Peter and John actually counted it as a badge of honor, to had suffered persecution for being associated with Jesus.
The Bible says:
“ .. and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Acts 5:40b-42 NKJV
The suffering did not stop them. What have you suffered in comparison with what they went through? Peter and John just continued doing what they had been doing before. They never allowed the threat of persecution to stop them. They had seen Jesus going through the same thing before. They were prepared to go through it also.
True believers in Christ don’t ever retreat in the face of persecution. No, It’s not what we do. Persecution is in fact a positive thing, because it serves as your stepping stone into glory and prosperity in Christ Jesus. You will never be able to get to where God has destined for you without them. It is what manifests a greater weight of God’s glory upon your life (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
And if you are not facing troubles, trials, tests and persecutions; it basically means that the enemy sees you as no threat to him. If you’re a real threat to the devil with your testimony of Jesus, he will constantly come after you so as to slow you down, to stop you and destroy you.
In fact Jesus showed us the perfect example concerning this, when He was once told that Herod was after His life. He immediately responded to the threat without even pausing to think about it.
The Bible says:
“On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
Luke 13:31-33 NKJV
Jesus would not allow the threat from Herod to take His eyes away, from the mission to be accomplished at Calvary. He would not allow a silly threat of persecution from Herod, to derail the plan of God.
Jesus went swiftly and head-on in response to the murder threat from Herod. He showed us here what our reaction should always be, whenever opposition arises against the call of God over our lives. The forces of opposition should be pushing us to re-fire in our zeal for the Lord, instead of cowering in fear to their threats.
So much at stake. Don’t give up
There is a lot at stake before us with the restrictions, that are being exploited by the Herodians of today in persecuting Christians. Your eternal destiny with God is at stake in this.
The hosts of heaven are watching at your response to the restrictions and lockdowns within your community. They are waiting to react in response to the stand that you will decide to take. They cannot get involved until you take a stand by faith. So don’t be waiting on God to do something, when God is actually waiting on you to put your faith to work.
And if you are taking a stand already, you’d better be sure that you’re firmly taking it; because the Lord will put the intent of your heart to test in that stand. Heaven will deploy all the resources that are needed to protect you, the moment you take a firm position against any threat to your freedom in Christ Jesus.
It’s absolutely ridiculous to forfeit eternity with God, because of the persecution from the enemy. We do know that he had already been defeated (Colossians 2:15). The devil had been made to become nothing to us, by the defeat which he suffered on the cross. And we had been made more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).
We however do have a duty to enforce our victory in Christ Jesus, especially in the face of the opposition to the proclamation of the gospel, that is going on worldwide against Christians. If the opposition from Herod could not stop Jesus from accomplishing His mission on the earth, the Herodians of today’s world can’t stop you also.
But you do have to take a firm and bold stand. Taking no stand at all sends a bad signal to the enemy that he’s winning against you. Whereas you do know that he is the looser.
The persecution of Stephen (see Acts 6:8-7:60) could not stop the early Church. On the contrary it aided the spread of the gospel all over Samaria and beyond. The same thing should be happening with the various ridiculous Herodian restrictions against Christians gatherings today. They will help the gospel of Jesus Christ to go further into newer territories than ever before. As the early believers were being persecuted in one place, they just scattered all over the nations around them, with the message of salvation (Luke 10:10-12 and Acts of the Apostles 8:4).
The restrictions of today’s Herod should be helping every believer in Christ with the spread of the gospel, and not hinder or silence our testimonies of Jesus. If you don’t bend to them, you will never bow or fail at all. Your faith as a child of God is more powerful than anything that the devil is throwing at you.
Taking a firm stand
That’s why Jesus told us about what our reaction is supposed to be in the face of the persecution. He said:
“And by standing firm with patient endurance you will find your souls’ deliverance.”
Luke 21:19 TPT
By standing firmly on the promises of God for your eternal salvation, healing, deliverance and prosperity on the earth, you will come out triumphantly. What does it means here to be standing firmly? It means to be uncompromising about the promises of God. It means to be unyielding in the face of the pressures from within and outside of the Church, for you to compromise the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the moment to stand firm with your head lifted up high, just as Daniel did. King Nebuchadnezzar had erected a golden image for everyone in his kingdom, to bow down before it and to worship it. It was a plot by the enemies of Daniel to bring him down.
Daniel had been found to possess an excellent spirit. He had been able to do this by standing firm, on the promises of God with patient endurance. His ability to endure helped him to build up the excellent spirit in his life. He became the envy of others around him, to the extent that they could not find any fault in Daniel.
The Bible says:
“So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
Daniel 6:4-5 NKJV
The enemies of Daniel had plotted to persecute him. They wanted him dead. So they had devised a scheme against him by pushing King Darius into making a decree, that no one should pray to any God for thirty days, except to this image alone. They were thinking of restricting Daniel from worshipping God. They were thinking of setting a trap for him, so as to ensnare and kill him, because anyone who broke the decree would be thrown into the den of lions.
Daniel stood firmly. He was not even ready to consider the decree at all, since it violated his conscience before God. It violated the commandment of God to him.
The Bible says in his reaction to the decree:
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
Daniel 6:10 NKJV
Daniel did exactly what Jesus told us to do in reaction to persecutions. They ended up throwing Daniel into the den of lions, but the lions never touched him at all. Daniel was sleeping inside the den. But it was King Darius who could not sleep. The king knew that the enemies of Daniel had deceived him into making the decree. He could not do anything to change it.
But because Daniel stood firm with patient endurance, the Lord sent His angel to protect him. Early in the morning of the next day the King commanded that the lion’s den should be opened. He wanted to see if the God of Daniel had been able to rescue him. So he called out to Daniel from the mouth of the den. And Daniel answered him:
“Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.””
Daniel 6:21-22 NKJV
Daniel was rescued from the pit, but his enemies ended up being eaten by the lions inside the den. God turned the very weapon of Daniel’s enemies against them. What was meant for the destruction of Daniel opened the door of the blessing into his life. The Bible says:
“So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Daniel 6:28 NKJV
Instead of the persecution stopping Daniel, it brought the blessing into his life. He was honored before everyone in the Kingdom at the end of the persecution.
If you don’t bend, you won’t bow
Your ability to trust in God’s promises more than ever before, and to be patient as you are enduring, will manifest greater things in your life. There is a blessing that Jesus promised to those who are facing persecution today. They have denied themselves of many things in this life. There is surely a reward waiting for them, not in the world to come alone, but on this earth also.
Jesus put it like this:
.. “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Mark 10:29-30 NKJV
You will notice that Jesus promised us the blessing with the persecution. There are a lot of Christians today who are seeking to be blessed, but they don’t want to be persecuted. They are looking for ways to get blessed without being persecuted.
This is a false illusion. Jesus can’t be mocked. Everything that you have lost because of the spread of the gospel with the persecution, is coming back to you in multiple fold returns. The persecution has positioned and qualified you for the blessing.
There are a lot of people who are panicking also, instead of just standing firm on the word of God during persecution. The devil has seen through the door of fear in defeating them already. They will miss out of their blessing, because the door of fear has cut them away from it. Faith is what opens the door of the blessing for us.
Peter once reacted in fear while facing the storm, after Jesus had told him to walk on the water.
The Bible says:
“But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.”
Matthew 14:30 CEV
Peter had a little door of faith into the supernatural. Instead of exercising his faith while Jesus was right beside him, he trembled to the fear of the storm. And because he was smart enough to had called on Jesus for help, he got himself delivered from the fear of the storm. The fear of persecution will cheat you out of your blessing.
There are many people like Peter today who are only seeing the restrictions around them, instead of seeing with the eye of faith into souls being saved, the sick being healed and the captives being delivered. The needs for their ministries has created the restrictions and lockdowns around them. They are spiritually blind to the potentials of God through their lives.
That’s why they can’t stand firm in the face of persecution. Instead of seeing Jesus working through their lives to save, heal and deliver; they are seeing the restrictions and lockdowns. And as a result of this their faith can never work in the persecution.
The ability of the believer in Christ Jesus to stand on God’s promises, will cause him to experience great spiritual growth, especially in the face of the persecution.
Patience in the midst of it all will help him to build up a godly character within himself. Such a believer will begin to distinguish between what brings the blessing and what brings the curse. He will begin to separate himself from the works of the flesh in his life, and the evil that may be surrounding him; because he knows by the Spirit of God in him, that the blessing is just around the corner.
When he is standing firm with patient endurance, he will become grounded and rooted in the word of God. He will start distinguishing between the voice of his soul and his born again spirit man. That’s how he will begin to grow in spiritual discernment, so as to recognize and separate the voice of the devil from the voice of God.
He is then able to recognize the devil’s subtle tactics, in speaking to his mind with lies and deceptions (Revelation 12:9). He will be able to recognize the move of God as it comes during the persecution. He is then able to make smart decisions during the persecution to prosper himself, because God is leading and guiding him and not his flesh.
What are you doing in the face of the restrictions and lockdowns around you? Don’t allow the enemy to steal the testimony of Jesus away from your mouth. Step out today. Start looking for someone who needs prayer for healing or deliverance. You carry the solution for that life.
Don’t allow what the “Herod” is doing within your community, to restrict your movement and hinder your faith. You were born for a time just like this. The destinies of many lives depends on you. What are you waiting on. Step out and go!