Inspiring Lives From Church History: James, the Great Martyr of Persia

martyrs for ChristPeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is that these accounts inspire me to live for Christ.

The Holy Martyr James the Persian

James was born of Christian parents in the Persian city of Elapa (or Vilat), brought up in the Christian Faith and married to a Christian woman. The Persian King Yezdegeherd took a liking to James for his talents and skillfulness, and made him a noble at his court. Flattered by the king, James was deluded and began offering sacrifices to the idols that the king worshiped.

His mother and wife learned of this, and wrote him a letter of reproach in which they grieved over him as an apostate and one who was spiritually dead. Yet, at the end of the letter, they begged him to repent and return to Christ. Moved by this letter, James repented bitterly, and courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord to the king. Angered, the king condemned him to death by a special torture: his entire body was to be cut up, piece by piece, until he breathed his last.

The executioners fulfilled this command of the wicked king to the letter, and cut off James’s fingers, then his toes, his legs and arms, his shoulders, and finally his head.

When the executioners severed the thumb of St. James’s right hand, he said: “Even a vine is pruned in this manner, so that in time a young branch may grow.”

At the severing of his second finger, he said: “Receive also, O Lord, the second branch of Thy sowing.”

At the severing of his third finger, he said: “I bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

At the severing of his fourth finger, he said: “O Thou who acceptest the praise of the four beasts [symbols of the four evangelists], accept the suffering of the fourth finger.”

At the severing of the fifth finger, he said: “May my rejoicing be fulfilled as that of the five wise virgins at the wedding feast.”

During the severing of the sixth finger, he said: “Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who at the sixth hour stretched out Thy most pure arms on the Cross, that Thou hast made me worthy to offer Thee my sixth finger.”

At the severing of the seventh finger, he said: “Like David who praised Thee seven times daily, I praise Thee through the seventh finger severed for Thy sake.”

At the severing of the eighth finger, he said: “On the eighth day Thou Thyself, O Lord, wast circumcised.”

At the severing of the ninth finger, he said: “At the ninth hour, Thou didst commend Thy spirit into the hands of Thy Father, O my Christ, and I offer Thee thanks during the suffering of my ninth finger.”

At the severing of the tenth finger, he said: “On a ten-stringed harp I sing to Thee, O God, and thank Thee that Thou hast made me worthy.

Thus, this wonderful man repented of his sin and presented his soul to Christ his God in the Kingdom of Heaven. James suffered in about the year 400.

Oh Lord, may we live for you with the same devotion and commitment that James the Great Martyr of Persia exhibited in death.

Read about the inspiring live of Hesychius, another Christian martyr.

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on November 27, 2013, in Christianity, Early Church History, The Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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