Two weeks from today we are going to join with Voice of the Martyrs and take part in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We will hear stories of and pray for brothers and sisters throughout the world that are losing jobs and possessions, being separated from family, imprisoned, physically abused and even killed simply for surrendering their lives to Jesus. Our text today is the beginning of the persecution of Jesus as detailed in the book of John. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders of the time were so offended by His disregard of their traditions and convicted by His confidence in the character of God that they decided they had to do something to stop Him. What is persecution, really? When we hear the word persecution or think of someone being persecuted we generally leap to physical abuse, imprisonment and threats of death. Those things are all persecution and they are all very real things that are happening to Christians in parts of the world right now, but those things are the culmination of persecution not the definition. Persecution is any effort to quiet a voice, stop a movement or change a direction. In our context persecution is anything that attempts to shrink our faith, silence our witness or compromise God’s Word. While around the world we have brothers and sisters that are suffering worse persecution, more violent and dangerous acts of hatred, we are all being persecuted. This morning I want to take a close look at the beginning of Jesus’ persecution and I want us to see what persecution is, where it comes from and how to stand, not against it, but in the midst of it. There are times when the world is against us and there are times when we are against ourselves, when our hearts deceive us and we give more room to our feelings than God’s voice, but there are also times when we become the persecutors, when we stand against what God is saying and what God is doing in us and around us. My prayer today is that we will watch Jesus the way that He watched the Father and that we will learn that surrender to God will not stop persecution but it will glorify Jesus and it will reap a harvest of redemption in us and through us.