These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1-4)
Murder In The Name Of God
As Jesus and the eleven walked to Gethsemane the Lord continued to talk with his disciples. It is difficult to see how they could understand the gravity of the situation and how soon they would witness the death of their Lord. Jesus knew they were not comprehending the depth of events unfolding as He spoke. Judas was bargaining the betrayal as the disciples were walking to the garden where the mob would quickly arrest Jesus leading Him to His death. The Lord tells them they will remember His words later. What a shock it must have been for them when they put all the pieces together.
One thing that must have been troubling to them later was the words of Jesus speaking of their deaths. Of the twelve men who would lead the early church only one seems to have died of natural causes. Church history tells a number of stories of how the apostles died with only one recorded death given by the Holy Spirit. James was killed by Herod in Acts 12. John died on Patmos in old age. The remaining ten suffered unknown deaths but Jesus gives a glimpse of the severity of their deaths. They would be killed by those who thought they were doing the will of God.
Killing in the name of God does not justify murder. The Jews murdered Jesus because they thought they were doing the will of God. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early church for the same reason until he learned the truth of Jesus. Men will justify their own selfish motives using the name of God to do whatever they want to do. There was a time when the people of God were instructed by the Lord to wipe out a people (Jericho, Ai, Amalekites, etc). Christ came to change the hearts of men with the good news of salvation. Throughout history men have used the name of God to justify the slaughter of millions but this was not God’s will. Today there are those who still try to convince the masses they are doing things in the name of God. The reason for this kind of holocaust is because they do not know God. They do not know Jesus.
It is amazing how many people think they know the mind of God without reading the mind of God – the Bible. The truth of God’s word reveals the character of the Father. Why is it that so many claim to know what God thinks when they have no knowledge of who God is? The early disciples were murdered by those who believed they were doing the will of God. How often people blindly follow a teaching or belief based upon a misapplied understanding of what God believes. It is not about killing others in the name of God. When a man speaks more about God without the word of God in his mouth then it is evident he speaks more of himself than the truth of the Father. Never charge God with truth unless that truth is God.
The church had martyrs throughout the entire Roman Empire before a single book of the New Testament was written. (Fulton J. Sheen, The Woman, 1951)