This post was originally published as a Sunday School lesson for the Biblical Recorder here.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we see a beautiful story of faith and hope. Do you hope for more? I hope for many more years to spend with my wife and children. I’m sure you’ve used the word hope in this same way. In the sense we so often use the word hope we mean something akin to wishful thinking. We would like something to be true. But the biblical use of the word hope is something far more certain. When the Bible speaks of hope it means something assured that we simply wait for. The biblical key to unlocking hope in this sense is faith. In this story we find a glorious example of faith. A Roman centurion sought out Jesus to heal his servant. Instead of asking Jesus to come to his house, the centurion observed, “Lord, I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. Speak the word and my servant will be healed. I too am a man with authority. When I tell my servant to do something, he does it.” The centurion modeled great faith—so great that Jesus observed he had not found such faith in Israel. Here we see biblical hope unlocked. The centurion knew Jesus could heal. He displayed his hope with humble faith. He acknowledged his unworthiness—a picture of a sinner humbling himself before the only One who can save. He expressed his faith, “Only speak the word, and I know my servant will be healed.” Then the centurion experienced victorious hope. Jesus healed his servant. Did you know you were in this story? After Jesus’ complimented the man’s faith he said, “Many will come from east and west to recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus asserted that if you’ve humbled yourself and trusted in Jesus, “You will be in the kingdom.” It doesn’t get more certain than Jesus’ declaration. So have hope. Look forward to the certain victory you will experience with Jesus in his kingdom.

Current news should bother us. Christians across the world, especially in countries where ISIS exists, are being persecuted, hunted down, and murdered because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Hardly a week goes by before we hear another report of another video of another group of Christians being murdered by Islamic terrorists. We should be horrified. We should ask our political leaders to do something. We should pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. We should pray for God’s justice and vindication.

We should seek answers.

I propose that we go to a book of the Bible that does answer questions for us about persecuted believers. The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while experiencing persecution on the isle of Patmos to believers facing the wrath of Rome’s emperor Domitian.

No doubt this apocalyptic text does describe for us much of what will happen in the future. However, the first readers of Revelation would not likely have been intent on discovering its end times interpretation beyond the certainty that Christ rules and reigns. Because of their personal suffering, they would have sought a more immediate hope than the consummation of the ages. In the book of Revelation, they would fin comfort, consolation, and encouragement. The unveiled Christ who gave John the vision of Revelation gives hope to Christian martyrs. They will worship at the throne of the King of Kings (Rev. 7:9-17), receive justice (Rev. 19:2), and they will experience the most glorious display of righteousness, justice, and victory in the history of mankind (Rev. 19:11-21).

John’s original readers met a Christ, not robed in the humble vestiges of a Carpenter or traveling preacher, but they met this Christ of Glory—this Sovereign in the midst of the churches—this King of Kings—this undaunted Prophet and Judge speaking his Word of judgment to the world—this paradoxical vision of High Priest and Worthy Lamb—this Ancient of Days—this returning Omnipotent Son of Man (Revelation 1). The unveiled Christ of John’s Revelation offered them salvation, hope, eternal life, justice, mercy, and victory.

We as believers should bemoan the persecution faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should seek and pray for their vindication. We should persuade our politicians to pursue justice for them. We should give them aid. But we need to remember that we have the end of the story. We’ve read the final chapters of world history. And friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, we win. So, if genuine persecution should come to our shores. If we should face the persecution so many millions of our spiritual family members have faced. Then we must take courage. The Christ of glory is the King of kings and all will bow at his feet, all will tremble at glory of his holiness, and we will reign with him in righteousness.

“He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:20-21