Focal Passages: Mark 15:1-5, 12-13, 32, 37-39; 16:1, 5-7
How far would we go because of our faith in Christ? Would we truly go all the way, even if it meant death? Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “Whenever Christ calls us, his call leads us to death.” Those familiar with his story know that his words were not empty speculations, but lived-out commitment.
His name was Vincent. He was the Baptist Mission’s Rwandan translator, office manager and close friend. Regardless of what was needed, Vincent could find it and provide it. His life was a constant witness to his faith in Christ. I cannot recall a single instance of complaint or negative word from him. He was always an encouragement and prayer support to the kingdom work that blossomed throughout Rwanda. He, his wife and children were true servants of Christ asking nothing and giving all to the Lord’s work among his people.
On the eve of the Rwandan genocide as the U.N. began carrying out all non-Rwandans, mission leadership tried to persuade Vincent to take his family and leave (they were Tutsi) for safety in Kenya, but he resisted. He told them that he had to remain with his people because of the Lord’s calling on his life. They tried again, but to no avail. And Vincent saw them off at the airport.
Several weeks later word came back concerning Vincent’s fate. Hutu gangs came to his home in Kigali numerous times threatening him and his family and each time he would share his faith and he would give them their belongings and money sparing their lives for a time. Finally, the day came when nothing was left but their faith and their lives and the gang came one last time.
Though Vincent shared with them the love and forgiveness Christ offers to all who will believe, they took him and his family lined them against the wall of their home and shot them. They were faithful up to the very end.
Jesus was faithful to the very end (which became a greater beginning for all humanity). He suffered the indignity and mockery of an unjust trial, false witnesses and an incited mob. He stood innocent before an accusing crowd of religious leaders and onlookers. He suffered death on a cross, burial in a borrowed tomb, alone and abandoned by all; but, God did not abandon him.
A torn curtain, a Gentile’s testimony, an unnaturally darkened midday sky and an empty tomb witness to the epic victory of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. And now, with his appearances, we, like the women and the disciples, must go and tell, not what we know about Jesus, but that we have seen and know Jesus, the resurrected, living Saviour.