The Blood of the Martyrs and the End of Violence

Author’s Note: I don’t know if my rendering of the following story is even close to the true tale, but I have recounted it as I remember hearing it many years ago. In my heart, I believe it, and it continues to give me great hope for the future Peaceable Kingdom of God that is coming. You can check this out for more accurate information than my re-telling. Thanks for the indulgence.

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There once was a monk. During the height of the Roman Empire this monk heard the call to leave the monastery where he lived. He didn’t know why he wsa supposed to leave, but he obeyed. As he was walking along, seeking God’s guidance, he heard shouting. Curious, he went to investigate and found himself in a colliseum during a gladiator fight to the death.

He entered the arena and seeing the slaughter going on around him – seemingly unaware of the danger – he approached one of the gladiators, grabbed his sword arm and shouted, “In the Name of Christ, forebear!” At first the gladiator just stared at him, a bit stunned by the appearance of this unarmed monk, but after the monk repeated his statement even more fervently, the gladiator began to chuckle. Other gladiators noticed the little monk and were curious as to what was passing between their fellow fighter and this man. Things became almost quiet as even the crowd strained to hear this new development in the day’s entertainment.

“In the name of Christ, FOREBEAR!” the monk shouted again and again. The first gladiator’s chuckle turned into full-blown laughter, and as the words of the monk began to sink in, the crowd joined the taunt. The little monk just kept repeating the same phrase over and over with tears streaming down his face, weeping openly at the celebration of death all around him. By now only the gladiators could hear the monk’s chant over the din of the crowd’s hilarity.

Suddenly one of the gladiators became weary of the monk’s cries and decided to put an end to this distraction. Walking over to the monk, the gladiator calmly ran him through. At that sight, a hush began to overtake the crowd, beginning with the fighters on the stadium floor and then spreading into the stands until everyone was perfectly still. With one final breath the monk again cried, “In the name of Christ … forebear.” Almost a whisper, and yet every ear in the arena heard the monk’s words as he died at the hand of the gladiator.

As the shockwave rippled through the crowd, no one moved. Finally, someone in one of the upper tiers stood up and walked out of the arena. Silently, one by one, people began to leave, until only the gladiators were left. Their entire audience, decimated.

One monk left his quiet life in the monastery on a quest he didn’t understand, only to find himself run through by the sword of a man who made his living by killing other men for entertainment. I wonder if the monk would have left his home if he had known what awaited him? I wonder if he had any inkling what his death would mean to the world outside of that little monastery? You see, Telemachus’ death marked the end of gladiator fights in the Roman Empire.

I wonder what we are willing to do, to what lengths we are willing to go to bring God’s Kingdom to this earth, to show the love of Christ – even if it means our death?

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

You really do reap what you sow. May the Father’s peace reign in your hearts and minds through Christ, who gave up His life to the hands of violent men in order that He might save us all out of violence.

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