“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:9-10).

In Jesus’ discourse on the future, He gave four indicators or signs of what would happen between His first and second coming: division in religion (vv. 5, 6), societal and social conflict (vv. 7–8a), and environmental disasters (v.8b). But He spent the most time talking about the fourth indicator: trouble for disciples (vv. 9–25). At the beginning of His ministry, He had invited them to “Come and see” (John 1:39). Earlier and here near the end (8:34–38), He invites them and us to “Come and die.”

In North America and in other places, we may have a skewed understanding of following Jesus. Some tell us that if only we give our money to ministry or have faith, then nothing ill will happen to us. We are falsely promised health and wealth. That’s not the experience of millions of Christ-followers across the globe. We know, for example, that Christians are the single most persecuted group in the world. Not only are Christians denied civil rights, but they are hunted down, burned, pillaged, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. MORE