February 23: Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp of Smyrna was a second century Christian, known as the bishop of Smyrna. It is said that he studied under the apostle John.

An ancient (2nd or 3rd century) writing called The Martyrdom of Polycarp records his death. As an old man, Polycarp was ordered to deny Christ. Some say that the proconsul knew Polycarp to be an old and honorable man, known for good works, and that he didn’t want to execute him. Apparently the proconsul told him he would be freed if he would simply renounce his belief in Jesus. Polycarp’s response has become legendary:

“For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

As we go through this second day of Lent, let’s remember those Christians who, like Polycarp, have given up their very lives for the sake of the gospel.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Luke 9:23 & 24

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