In the book of Matthew 10 and 11 Jesus taught his disciples and others about the trials and persecution that Christians would experience. It was at that time that John was put in prison by King Herod. John had spoken out against the King for taking his brother’s wife. The only reason why the King didn’t kill John at the time was due to the fear of the people (John 14).
So while John was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah or, if we were to expect another to come. Jesus’s response was to tell John, of the miracles that had flowed through his ministry and for him to decide if he was the Messiah or not.
Jesus would have known about John’s arrest and that the King would eventually execute him. Jesus would also have in mind, the time appointed for his own crucifixion and death. After Jesus sent his disciples out to minister in Matthew 10, he spoke to them saying. “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
Jesus’s teaching was never a conventional peace loving, all is right with the world kind of message. Jesus also told his disciples, that they would be handed over to the courts, flogged with whips, stand trial before Kings and Governors. “But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and unbelievers about me” (Matthew 10: 17-19).
Imagine most of us being sent out to preach the gospel with the promise of whipping, arrests and persecution. No thank you very much mister Jesus, is what most of us would have to say. But the trials will give us an opportunity to tell people about Jesus. To what end would we want to subject ourselves to such suffering and persecution? “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Jesus does bring the teaching to a close, with a word of comfort despite the trials and difficulties. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 10:28-30).
The enemy have caused suffering and distress on the earth. Our resolve is to remember that this life and body is temporal, but the soul and spirit is eternal. One day we will have a new body and this earthly body will return to the dust. So we live for a life after this and we regard not this life as our final destination. We have a better life prepared and a home away from this earth.