Modern martyrdom and the Gospel of Mark

The other morning I was teaching an introductory class on Mark’s Gospel. It makes sense to me that Mark wrote his book for a community of Christians under pressure and persecution, like the church in Rome.

His positioning of Jesus’ glory and suffering are skilfully and starkly juxtaposed in a way that must have comforted and encouraged the church as they sought to make sense of their experiences and remain faithful to their commitment to Jesus.

In this light we also considered the assertion of Todd Johnson (in his article on ‘Martyrdom’ in IVP’s 2007 Dictionary of Mission Theology, edited by John Corrie) that every day 400 believers are killed for their faith.

Unlike most lectures at Redcliffe, our Gospels class runs in concentrated form from 9am to 1pm. It was midday when I brought up Johnson’s statistic. Since we had begun our lesson fifty of our brothers and sisters in Christ had lost their lives as a direct result of their Christian confession.

We took some time to pray. Perhaps you might take a moment to do the same. Also, you may want to visit the website of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.”