Herod's persecution of the believers was severe. He had James, the brother of John, executed. James was part of Jesus' inner three of especially close disciples (Peter, James, and John) that he chose to have with him for special moments in his ministry.* He also was one of the first four disciples chosen and a fisherman who was nicknamed as one of the "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17). Jesus had taught his apostles that martyrdom was likely.* With James' execution, martyrdom became a reality for the apostles; church tradition says it eventually claimed all of the remaining original apostles and Paul. May we have faith to persevere even through the persecution and death of our leaders, if that happens, and continue to share the unstoppable message of Jesus!
Almighty God and loving Father, strengthen our resolve, deepen our faith, and give us the courage to be brave and bold no matter what Satan does to threaten us, whether it is done through just being in the world or by evil leaders or in any other way. We want to be part of your unstoppable Kingdom and share the message of Jesus' grace with everyone. We ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.