Polycarp of Smyrna: Be strong and play the man!

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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10

“But when at length he brought his prayer to an end, after remembering all who at any time had come in his way, small and great, high and low, and all the universal Church throughout the world, the hour of departure being come, they seated him on an ass and brought him into the city, it being a high Sabbath.

And he was met by Herod the captain of police and his father Nicetes, who also removed him to their carriage and tried to prevail upon him, seating themselves by his side and saying, ‘Why what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense’, with more to this effect, ‘and saving thyself?’ But he at first gave them no answer. When however they persisted, he said, ‘I am not going to do what ye counsel me.’

Then they, failing to persuade him, uttered threatening words and made him dismount with speed, so that he bruised his shin, as he got down from the carriage. And without even turning round, he went on his way promptly and with speed, as if nothing had happened to him, being taken to the stadium; there being such a tumult in the stadium that no man’s voice could be so much as heard.

But as Polycarp entered into the stadium, a voice came to him from heaven; ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.’ And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And at length, when he was brought up, there was a great tumult, for they heard that Polycarp had been apprehended.”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 8.1-9.1, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

“Be strong!” These words ring through Scripture. They are God’s generous gift to those willing to live by faith and entrust their lives to His matchless care.

“Be strong!” What if you knew you were walking to your death. Would you fight? Would you run? Or would you see this as your greatest moment to shine for Jesus?

As the story unfolds, God now speaks to Polycarp again. The first time He whispered that he’d be martyred by fire. The second time he receives heavenly encouragement.

Stay tuned to hear how the story unfolds. In the meantime, live your story. Hear our Lord whispering to you, “Be strong!” Give the most generous gift you can. Give your life for Jesus.