Summary: This sermon examines how Jesus would vote on matters of life and death.
“Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!”
Eighty thousand people watched as a man jumped over the railing, ran onto the field, held up his hands, and shouted, “Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!”
He ran in between two combatants, two gladiators who were fighting to the death, and he begged them to stop.
Who was this man? His name was Telemachus.
Telemachus was a monk who lived in a cloistered monastery somewhere in Eastern Europe in the late 4th century. He felt God say to him, “Go to Rome.”
And so he put his possessions in a bag and set off for Rome.
When he arrived in the city on January 1, 404, people were thronging in the streets. He asked what all the excitement was about, and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting to the death in the Roman Coliseum.
He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?”
He ran to the Coliseum, and as he arrived, he heard the gladiators say, “Hail to Caesar! We die for Caesar!”
He thought, “This isn’t right.”
That’s when he jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands, and shouted, “Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!”
How did the crowd respond?
The crowd protested and began to shout, “Run him through! Run him through!”
A gladiator came over and hit Telemachus in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand.
Telemachus got up and stood between the gladiators again, and shouted, “Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!”
But the crowd chanted louder and louder, ‘Run him through! Run him through! Run him through!”
One gladiator came over and thrust his sword through the little monk’s stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood.
One last time he gasped out, “Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!”
A hush came over the 80,000 people in the Coliseum.
Then, a man stood up and left. Then another. And another. And within minutes all 80,000 people walked out of the Coliseum. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the Roman Empire.
Three days later, the Roman Emperor Honorius declared Telemachus a martyr, and officially ended all gladiatorial contests.
Can one person make a difference?
Telemachus was appalled by what he saw in the Roman Coliseum. He could not believe that four centuries after Christ people were still killing each other for pleasure.
In the 21st century we find the gladiatorial contests crude and barbaric. And yet, we have our own modern crude and barbaric killing for pleasure—abortion. Although there are some medically necessary abortions—such as when the life of the mother is at stake—the fact is that the vast majority of abortions are for the pleasure of the individuals who do not want that child.
Last week I started a new series of messages titled, “How Would Jesus Vote?” It is my intention for about 8 weeks or so to examine some key issues that confront us today, and ask how Jesus would vote if he were here today.