Very few people can name the twelve Apostles and even fewer know anything about them. Hope this changes that. On this Memorial Day weekend when we remember those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy, it seems appropriate to share how each of the twelve apostles died.
James the brother of John was killed with a sword during a persecution initiated by King Herod in AD 44. Andrew was hung on an olive tree around 70 AD. Doubting Thomas was thrust through with pine spears, tortured with red-hot plates, and burned alive around 70 AD. Philip went to Phrygia where he was tortured and crucified in AD 54. Matthew was beheaded sometime after 60 AD. Bartholomew was flayed after he refused to recant. After the removal of his skin, he was crucified in 70 AD. James the lesser was taken to the top of the Temple where a crowd gathered. When he refused to recant, he was thrown down. He survived the fall so a mob beat him to death with clubs in 63 AD. Simon the Zealot was crucified by the governor of Syria in AD 74. Judas Thaddeus ministered in Mesopotamia where he was beaten to death with sticks in AD 72. Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, went to Ethiopia and was stoned to death while hanging on a cross in AD 70. According to Eusebius, the third century historian, Peter thought himself unworthy to die in the manner in which Jesus was crucified so he requested that he be crucified upside-down. And last but not least, John the beloved is the only disciple who died a natural death, but that doesn’t mean he was exempt from persecution. He was exiled to the Island of Patmos and according to legend, thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil.
I’m not sure what that does to you. In fact, I’m not sure what that does to me. But I know this: I’m grateful for the estimated 70 million martyrs who have died because of their faith in Jesus Christ. And I’m grateful for the freedoms I enjoy as an American. May we never take them for granted.