Lifting High the Cross: How the Martyrs Exalted Christ by Their Deaths (part 1)

 

Last night I was reading a story online about the Ethiopian martyrs when the song Lift High the Cross came up in my playlist.  I was moved to tears at the juxtaposition.  Truly the Ethiopian martyrs, the Kenyan martyrs, the Egyptian martyrs – and the hundreds if not thousands of martyrs whose names we do not know and whose stories we never hear, have lifted high the Cross of Jesus in their lives and in their deaths.

They showed themselves to be true “servants of the crucified” – faithful unto death, willing to die rather than deny the name of Christ.

 

 

Here are the full lyrics coutesy of the Oremus hymnal

Refrain:
Lift high the cross,
the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore
his sacred Name.

Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God. Refrain

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine. Refrain

Each newborn soldier [servant] of the Crucified*  (many versions now replace soldier with servant)
bears on the brow the seal of him who died. Refrain

This is the sign which Satan’s legions fear
and angels veil their faces to revere. Refrain

Saved by this Cross whereon their Lord was slain,
the sons of Adam their lost home regain. Refrain

From north and south, from east and west they raise
in growing unison their songs of praise. Refrain

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee. Refrain

Let every race and every language tell
of him who saves our souls from death and hell. Refrain

From farthest regions let their homage bring,
and on his Cross adore their Savior King. Refrain

Set up thy throne, that earth’s despair may cease
beneath the shadow of its healing peace. Refrain

For thy blest Cross which doth for all atone
creation’s praises rise before thy throne. Refrain

May many more followers of Christ be raised up through the testimony of those who were willing to die for Christ, imitating the way of His cross in their deaths.  May God work in the hearts of those ISIS members who were there on the beach or in the desert applauding these deaths.  May He raise up many Pauls among them to proclaim the faith they once attempted to annihilate and the Lord whom they scorned.

Please keep praying for the martyrs’ families and the church in Ethiopia. May those grieving be comforted and strengthened at knowing their loved ones did not shrink from death, and are now receiving honor in heaven.

And pray for ISIS members to encounter the Risen Christ, that they might become His faithful servants too.

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3 Responses to Lifting High the Cross: How the Martyrs Exalted Christ by Their Deaths (part 1)

  1. I was very moved by the words of the Anglican bishop in Ethiopia, Grant LeMarquand. In just a few phrases he captures well much of what I’m thinking and praying in response to these martyrdoms:

    http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2015/04/anglican-bishop-expresses-horror-at-isis-killing-of-ethiopian-christians.aspx

    “For now we can note the most important things to be said about these victims. Their names are known to God and they are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8). Their denominational affiliation is no longer of any importance: they are among the unnumbered throng from every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne and the Lamb (Rev 7:9) who have come out of the great persecution (Rev 7:14) and have had every tear wiped away from their eyes (Rev 7:17)”

    “”How are we Christians (those of us in Ethiopia as well as around the world) to react to this most recent atrocity?” he asked.

    “First, we must look up to God in thanksgiving for the lives of these brothers who loved not their own lives, but followed Jesus in the way of the cross. Second, we must ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to abandon the temptation to hate. Instead we must follow Jesus, who not only suffered death on the cross, but also prayed for his executioners to be forgiven. If we are turned to hatred, the terrorists have won. Finally, we must continue to reach out to a world desperate for the love of Jesus.” the letter says.

    “Make no mistake, the terrorists who executed these martyrs of Ethiopia have exhibited the worst of human depravity, but they have also revealed their desperate need of a Saviour. The apostle Paul, a great persecutor of the church of God, was turned to love by his experience of meeting Christ on his way to the Syrian city of Damascus. May God use his church to so act and speak of and from the love of Christ that many former or potential persecutors may be turned and have their named written in the book of life.”

    AMEN & AMEN.

  2. So to summarize:
    1) Thanksgiving to God for our brothers lives & witness
    2) Prayer for strength, especially against temptation to hate [and I would also add: strength against temptation to despair]
    3) Reach out to those most in need of salvation – including ISIS terrorists themselves!
    4) Cry out to God for the salvation of those who are currently persecuting & killing believers. May the church be a winsome & powerful witness to Christ’s love & victory.

  3. […] week I posted an entry about the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Egyptian martyrs: Lifting High the Cross: How the Martyrs Exalted Christ by Their Deaths (part 1) I have an additional entry I planned to post as a followup, but a very busy workload in recent days […]

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