The message of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God threatened those at the top of the Roman world.
[Darris McNeely] What was it about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God that got people killed in the first century and later years, but especially in the first century after the burning of Rome, the fire that was set during the time of Nero? One thing to understand about the Roman Empire – it was all based upon a set order. Everyone knew their place. Rome brought order to an uncivilized world wherever it went. It built its cities based upon the model of Rome – whether it was Corinth, whether it was Ephesus, or whether it was Antioch, or Jarash, it was built upon the same order and system here in Rome. Everybody knew their place in Roman society, and at the top of that order, that place was the emperor, worshipped as a god. And everyone below the emperor knew their place, and you didn’t really move out of that place. Even the clothing that you wore, where you lived, what you worked, your name, your family, established the order that was Rome, and your place within that order. The gospel of Jesus Christ came along and it did something completely different. It turned that order upside down for those who believed Jesus Christ was their King.
The apostle Paul found this when he came to the city of Thessalonica, and he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God especially there, and he told them that there was another Caesar, another King, instead of the one who lived behind me here. There was one called Jesus Christ, and He is your King, He is the One you worship. That got him persecuted. It said that when he was in – Acts 17:6 Acts 17:6And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brothers to the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come here also;
American King James Version×– “when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘Those who turn the world upside down have come here too.’” It went on to show – the message that they preached was showing there was another King besides the emperor, and that King was Jesus Christ. That turned the order of the ancient world, the Roman world, upside down, and in time, when they finally figured that out – when those who lived in these ruins that are behind me figured out that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God turned the everyday person in the stands, in the streets, into, in a sense, worshipping another King instead of him – that’s what brought the persecution. That’s what began to change and threaten Roman society and Roman order.
Only a message of that magnitude would compel a slave, a free person, a shopkeeper, to follow that message no matter what. It was profound. It turned their world upside down. It threatened the order of those who lived here on the Palatine Hill behind me, and it brought a very different kind of message to the world. And today, that same message can turn your world upside down, changing it for the good, to follow Jesus Christ and his Father, and put yourself squarely upon the path of the kingdom of God.
That’s why they killed Christians in the first century.
What is it about that message that might cause us to put ourself, our old man, to death, and to worship God, and to change our lives? Something to think about.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.