Yesterday, an ISIS video was released showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians. As the terrorist group celebrated the deaths of these men on Sunday, millions who share the faith of the murdered celebrated the resurrection of our Savior.
Because the grave could not hold our King, neither will it hold us, nor could it hold these 21 men who gave their lives for their faith.
Milad Makeen Zaky
Abanub Ayad Atiya
Maged Solaiman Shehata
Yusuf Shukry Yunan
Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
Somaily Astafanus Kamel
Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
Girgis Milad Sinweet
Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
Mina Fayez Aziz
Hany Abdelmesih Salib
Bishoy Adel Khalaf
Samuel Alham Wilson
Ezat Bishri Naseef
Gaber Munir Adly
Esam Badir Samir
Malak Farag Abram
Sameh Salah Faruq
An unnamed worker from Awr village
ISIS mockingly called these 21 men “people of the cross.” Much like the word “Christian” 2,000 years ago, what they meant as an insult is actually a badge of honor.
Those men entered into eternity held safely by the hands of the One who turned the cross from an emblem of shame into a symbol of victory.
To be a people of the cross means that we trust those nail scarred hands and we embrace what it means to be a “people of the cross.”
- We recognize the humility that comes with the cross (Philippians 2:8).
- We admit it was a shameful death that Jesus died on it (Hebrews 12:2).
- We understand it is foolishness to those who have not embraced it (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- We acknowledge the cross is an offense to many (Galatians 5:11).
- We know this puts us at enmity with the world (Galatians 6:14).
- Tearfully, we see many live their lives as an enemy of the cross (Philippians 3:18).
But, now that we have experienced what the cross of Christ does, we can forever and only be people of the cross.
- Through our salvation, we have come to know it as God’s power (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- We know the reconciliation the cross has brought us to God the Father (Ephesians 2:16, Colossians 1:20).
- Our sin and its consequences have been erased by the cross (Colossians 2:14).
- We can never boast about anything else (Galatians 6:14) or bear any other burden (Luke 14:27).
These 21 men are not victims—they are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11) and the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:38).
As we pray for their families and the other believers who are living out their faith in the face of a sword, we should also pray for those men who took part in the slaughtering of the believers.
Two millennia ago, another group of religious terrorists gathered around a Christian martyr believing they had won the victory and were preventing the spread of the gospel in their area.
One man was doing all he could to imprison and murder “people of the cross,” but then he encountered the risen Savior and became a man of the cross himself.
May we pray that those ISIS terrorists will meet Christ just as Saul did as he was traveling to imprison more believers.
Pray, just like Paul, the Christian murderer will become the Christian missionary, the persecutor of Christians will become the planter of churches.
May we forever be people of the cross as we follow the One who went willingly to it and who guides these 21 men, and all who die in the faith, safely home.