When faced with torture…
Told to renounce Christ or die, Polycarp said: For eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no evil. How could I curse my king, who saved me?
Tied to a post in a pyre about to be burned, Polycarp prayed: Lord Sovereign God…I thank you that you have deemed me worthy of this moment, so that, jointly with your martyrs, I may have a share in the cup of Christ…For this…I bless and glorify you. Amen.
When told to deny Christ with her seven sons, Felicitas said told the prefect that he was wasting his time for: while I live, I shall defeat you; and if you kill me, in my death I shall defeat you all the more.
Another Felicitas was jailed for being a Christian and was awaiting death. She was pregnant and gave birth before she was executed. One of the guards taunted her and asked her how she would endure the lions if the pain of childbirth was so great. She said she would be able to face the beasts because: Now my sufferings [of childbirth] are only mine. But when I face the beasts there will be another who will live in me, and will suffer for mesince I shall be suffering for him.
When they tried to go to public worship mobs began to follow them in the streets and pelted them with stones. The Christians were arrested (that’s right, for going to worship and getting pelted with stones), taken to court, and killed.
What motivated these men, women, and children? They were fully convinced of 1 Cor. 15’s teaching on the resurrection, especially verse 26: The last enemy to be destroyed is death. They were not so enamored by the gold and praise of this world. They were humiliated because they believed in God. They were considered traitors to the king because they refused to worship him. With all of the fluff in world, it is easy to get lost in it. May Christians be willing to lay down their lives, literally and figuratively, in order to show that Jesus is better than life (Ps. 63.3). People can call Christians ignorant, but they can never deny that something greater than this life has gripped them in such a way as to sing as their flesh is melting…you can’t deny that.
[excerpts from Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 ]