Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jesus Freaks: Adrian of Nicomedia, Put Down My Name to Be Tortured for Christ


Love… rejoices with the truth; bears all things,
believe all things, hope all things, endures all things
(The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4, 6-7).

A.D. 303

During the tenth and last major Roman persecution under Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, a young military officer who loved honour and courage distinguished himself to his superiors by faithfully and efficiently carrying out the letter of their orders in trying to suppress the Christians. His skill and daring in both this and in battle had led to one promotion after another.
            But Adrian’s task of torturing Christians bothered him. In the face of pain and death, Christians were repeatedly peaceful and unrelenting in their commitment to their Lord. He saw in these men and woman a courage greater than any he had ever seen in battle.
            Adrian was so intrigued by this that one day as he was bringing a group of Christians before a judge for sentencing, he asked one of them, “What gives you such strength and joy in the midst of your sufferings?” “Our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe,” the man replied.
            Suddenly Adrian saw it as he never had before. The Roman gods he was defending could never give a person such courage! They were nothing compared to the God of these Christians.
            He made his way to the front of the line of prisoners and stepped before the judge. “Put down my name with those to be tortured. I also have become a Christian.” The emperor’s son Galerius, who served as Diocletian’s Caesar (or junior emperor) and had been present at the trials with his father, tried to persuade Adrian to strike his name from the list of Christians and to beg for forgiveness. Adrian assured him that he had not lost his mind but had acted thus according to his own conviction.
            What Adrian did not know at the time was that his wife, Natalia, had secretly become a Christian some time before and had been praying for him. When she heard that he was in prison, she went to him and encouraged him by telling him of her conversion and more about the God who loved him.
            The group of Christians Adrian had put his name down with were soon sentenced to die. Before this, because of his former status in the empire, Adrian was allowed to go home that he might make his peace with his wife before he was killed. When Natalia saw him coming down the road, she at first thought he had renounced Christ in order to be freed and wouldn’t let him into the house!
            Though this might have been an opportunity for Adrian to escape, he did not. He soon returned to the prison. When he did, he watched as others were subjected to terrible tortures: their arms and legs were broken with heavy hammers until they died from the agony and internal bleeding. When Adrian’s turn came, his wife feared most of all that her husband would become fainthearted and renounce Christ, but he finally knew the courage that could only belong to Christians and never backed away from his commitment. She strengthened Adrian and held on to his arms and legs while the executioner broke them with the hammer. Adrian died together with the rest.
            When they began to burn the bodies of the Christians, a thunderstorm arose, the furnace was extinguished, and lighting killed several of the executioners. The attempt was abandoned and the rest of the bodies were released to their families. Sometime later, after Adrian’s body had been moved to the city of Byzantium, Natalia’s body was found lying on top of her husband’s grave. She had died while attending it.
            His sacrifice has stood as a shining example for the last eighteen centuries. During that time Adrian has been knowns as one of the patron saints of soldiers.
[Taken from Jesus Freaks: Revolutionaries (2002) by dc Talk. Title mine]

O loving Christ, draw me, a weakling, after Yourself;
for if You do not draw me I cannot follow You.
Give me a brave spirit that I may be ready and alert.
If the flesh is weak, may Your grace go before me, come alongside me, and follow me;
for without You I cannot do anything, and especially,
for Your sake I cannot go to a cruel death.
Grant me a ready spirit, a fearless heart, a right faith, a firm hope, and a perfect love,
that for Your sake I may lay down my life with patience and joy.”
John Huss,
as he lay in chains in prison before being burned at the stake, Bohemia @ Czechoslovakia

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