“We pray for all the emperors, that God may grant them long life, a secure government, a prosperous family, vigorous troops, a faithful senate, an obedient people; that the whole…
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It was built to entertain the ruthless masses of the Roman Empire. The mighty Coliseum stood in the heart of Rome and played host to the gladiatorial games that would end up costing the lives of thousands upon thousands of contestants.
But the death toll rose even more when the Coliseum was used to kill followers of Jesus.
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Theodosius had a plan. He wanted all the people of his empire to worship the one true God revealed in the Bible. A noble endeavor, for sure. But there was one fatal flaw in the emperor’s strategy:
Those he couldn’t lead to Jesus…he would send to Jesus!
Julian had a problem: Christianity was taking over his empire. But dealing with that problem highlighted an even bigger one: his authority as Emperor wasn’t sufficient to rid his land of Christians.
His military might was simply no match for their humility and sacrificial nature.
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The gladiatorial fights of the Roman Empire have been immortalized in our culture as tremendous battles between individual combatants, whole troops, and even wild animals. Images of weapon-wielding warriors fill our minds when we look at the mighty Coliseum.
But 1,600 years ago, a frail, unarmed man stepped into the amphitheater and changed everything.
Decius came from a long line of Roman Emperors who hated Christ and His followers. But unlike those who had gone before him, he would be quite successful in ridding the empire – and world – of the Jesus disease.
And, for the most part, he wouldn’t even have to use a sword to do it.
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Today, Christians wear lavish, golden crosses around their necks, and decorate their homes with the same wooden icons. Almost every church in the world has this symbol displayed front and center for all to see.
But 2,000 years ago, the cross wasn’t something to display; rather, it was to be feared.