Polycarp of Smyrna: Acceptable Sacrifice

Home » Meditations » Meditations » Polycarp of Smyrna: Acceptable Sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

“So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said; ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence; I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of [Thy] Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art the faithful and true God. For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen.'”

Polycarp of Smyrna in Martyrdom of Polycarp 14.1-3, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

This is the penultimate (second to last) post from this classic story. Rather than spoil what happens after this scene, here’s the only clue I will offer. It’s the prayer of Polycarp before they attempted to burn him at the stake.

Click to read it to read what happened next.

And reflect on this prayer of a man who was ready to give His life for God. God graciously revealed his end to him. Rather than run from it, he made himself a ready and acceptable sacrifice.

What about you? Would you embrace such a cup of suffering? Are you, in the words of the Apostle Paul, a living sacrifice that is pleasing to God like Polycarp?

Generosity comes into view as Polycarp embracing the privilege of offering His life as a rich and acceptable sacrifice to glorify the One who gave His life for him.

God, help us go and do likewise.