Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:16-23 ESV
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9 ESV
In the early church there was a teacher named Justin who wrote about the worship and the life of the early Christians. When Justin was on trial for his life along with five other people because of their faith, the prefect said to them that they should sacrifice to the gods, and then they could go free. Justin said, “No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false.” The prefect said, “If you do not obey, you shall be punished without mercy.” Justin said that he would rather suffer the punishment of the government than the much greater judgment of Jesus if he turned away from him. He and the other people said, “Do what you will. For we are Christians and offer no sacrifice to idols.” Justin and his friends were ready to die for their faith rather than deny Jesus. They didn’t expect to be rescued from being put to death, but they knew that Jesus had rescued them from eternal death, so they were willing to die. Justin and his friends were all put to death.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also willing to suffer and die for the true God. They knew that Nebuchadnezzar had the power to throw them into the fiery furnace, but they also believed that God had the power to rescue them and that he would do it. But in the end, they left matters in God’s hands. They were willing to die rather than deny their God, even if it wasn’t God’s will to save them from the fire. Nebuchadnezzar was furious that he couldn’t make these three men obey him, and he ordered them to be tied up and thrown into the fiery furnace. He even had it heated up seven times hotter than usual, and it got so hot that the men who tied them up and threw them into the furnace died just from getting close to the heat.
Christians sometimes suffer because of their faith. Sometimes other people will look down on us or tell lies or say mean things about us. Sometimes we struggle against the sins of this world and feel left out and alone because we are different from other people. In some parts of the world Christians are thrown in jail or hurt or even put to death because of their faith. Sometimes God helps and saves his people from being hurt or killed, but sometimes he allows it to happen. We are willing to suffer or even die because Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven and become God’s children. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us and give us strength when we need to suffer because of him. We can be sure that, no matter what happens, even if we die, we belong to Jesus, and nothing anyone can do to us can take us away from Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for suffering and dying for us. Please give us the strength to be faithful to you, no matter what happens. Amen.
Owen, E. C. E. Some Authentic Acts of the Early Martyrs London: SPCK Publishing, 1933.