Stand Up for Jesus

Do you ever wonder about the background of some of our songs that we sing in church? Where do they come from? Why were they written? What passage from the Scriptures or event in life were the words based on?

The last hymn that we just sang is one that is a favorite for many Christians: Stand up! Stand up for Jesus! I'd like to share with you how it came about.

The hymn was written by a man named George Duffield in 1858. He was a pastor in the city of Philadelphia when a dear friend of his, also a preacher, suffered an accident that led to his death. That friend, Dudley Tyng, had the week before preached to a large crowd at the local YMCA. His sermon was said to have affected many of the 5,000 that were gathered there. It was entitled, “Stand Up for Jesus,” and was based on Exodus 10:11 (KJV), “Go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord.” (cf. st.2)

The following Wednesday, at his home in the country, the Rev. Tyng left his study and went out to the barn. There a mule was at work on a horse-powered machine that shelled corn. He reached to pat the mule on its neck, when the sleeve of his silk study gown got caught in the cogs of the machine's wheels. His arm was pulled into the machine and severely lacerated (“torn out by the roots”). So bad was the injury that by the following Monday he died.

The evening before his death was a hard one, filled with intense suffering. As the morning dawned, he told his father and the others watching at his bedside, “Sing, sing! Can you not sing?” And with that he began to sing another well-known hymn, “Rock of Ages.” The others tried to sing along, but were overcome with grief. As it became evident that the end was near, his father asked him if he had any farewell words for his friends. Thinking about his last sermon, the dying man said, “Tell them, ‘Let us all stand up for Jesus.'”

After the funeral his good friend George Duffield wrote the words of the hymn we know and love. The next Sunday he preached on the words of Ephesians 6:14: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” He then recited the words of his newly written hymn as a concluding exhortation: Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross, Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss...Ye that are men now serve Him Against unnumbered foes; Let courage rise to danger And strength to strength oppose.

A sad story, yes, but also uplifting for it testifies to the strong conviction that Christians have, the conviction that boldly confesses Christ in spite of all things. In spite of pain, suffering, or persecution Stand Up for Jesus . That's what He tells us in our text.

May the Holy Spirit graciously guide us in our study that we, too, may Stand Up For Jesus, I. fearless in the face of opposition. Then we will be II. acknowledged before the Father by Him.

 

I. Fearless in the face of opposition.

In the story behind the hymn, George Duffield encouraged us to stand up for Christ fearlessly in the face of physical pain and suffering. In the story of our text, Jesus urges us to stand up for Him fearlessly in the face of a different type of pain and suffering – the type that comes in the face of opposition to Christ. Such opposition will come as He sends us into the world in His name.

When Jesus sent the disciples out here, He said to them, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub (that is, the devil), how much more the members of his household! So, do not be afraid of them.”

Jesus wasn't trying to frighten His disciples. No, He was only talking reality, the starkest kind of reality. People hated Jesus for calling Himself Christ; people would hate his followers for calling Him the Savior, the one and only one who can bring sinners back to God.

You see, dear friends, unbelief is not tolerant towards Christ and the Christian faith. In fact it is violently opposed to it. Unbelievers will go so far as to betray and accuse members of their own families and have them put to death for calling themselves Christians.

In the verses right before our text, Jesus said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his own child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” The reason – “all men will hate you because of Me.”

This certainly was the case in the apostolic times, when we know that Christians were beaten, and stoned to death, and made to

fight gladiators or lions in the arenas of Rome. And it still literally happens down to our own age. Try to proclaim the gospel of Christ in many parts of the world today, particularly in the eastern world, and see what happens to you. Opposition will arise. This we expect; we've heard of it quite a bit. But when the opposition comes in one's own family, that really hurts! When either takes place, either opposition in society or opposition in one's family, what is the Christian to do?

The temptation is to back down, to soften one's words, maybe even to say nothing. George Duffield would say, “Back down? No! Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus!

Jesus said it this way in our text: “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the house tops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

Stand Up fearlessly in the face of opposition . Don't be afraid. Confess Christ. Proclaim Him from the housetops. Don't back down and quietly slip away.

You know, dear friends, Jesus calls us here to be public about our confession of Him, and to be bold about it. In one sense that's different from the way His own ministry was carried out.

When you look into the ministry of our Lord, you might think that it was comparatively quiet. One really doesn't get the impression that day after day Jesus appeared before large and challenging audiences. Oh, to be sure, there were those occasions when He preached to over 5,000, or when He looked at the crowd that was streaming towards Him and saw them like a big flock of sheep without a shepherd, or when He confronted the Pharisees He did appear before some sizeable audiences. But that was more the unusual than the norm. It was customary for Him to labor in quietness, devoting His time to the teaching of His disciples. They were the ones who were going out into the world with the Gospel. And while the ministry of our Lord was of the quiet kind, it was not His intent that His church should carry on the ministry in the same quiet way. He said, “What I tell you in the dark speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops.” Have we been proclaiming the Savior from the housetops?

It would be a little precarious to preach from the pointed roofs of houses as we know them today. But in the Palestine of the disciples' day, it was otherwise. Their houses had flat roofs. They could do what would be hard for us to do today. But isn't His point really this? Isn't He simply trying to inspire all disciples with the wonderful vision that it is a privilege and an absolute joy to stand up anywhere for Jesus and proclaim in Him the glad tidings of God's love that sent a Savior who wiped out our sin? This is something of supreme significance for us. This is what our joyful obligation, our grateful duty in life to Him is.

People often seem to ask now-a-days as to “what is the business of the Church?” Here you have Jesus' own answer. The church might be busy with a thousand different things. It could sponsor program after program. It could engage in all kinds of entertaining events. It could have suppers every night of the week throughout the year. And that would impress many. Yet, with all of its business it could completely fail to do what God wants the Church to do above all things – to preach the Gospel of the Savior.

This is the primary task of our congregation, our synod, every one of us. Even in the face of opposition of any kind, fearlessly Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus , dear friend.

 

II. Acknowledged before the Father.

Doing that, you will not have to tremble in the face of a dark and perplexing future for God Himself will be with us. That is also promised in our text when we read, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”

Paint that picture in your mind's eye. Jesus present Himself standing in front of the Father in heaven and talking with Him about you and me, about those who confess His name before the world. In effect Jesus says this, “Father, these people belong to me and I love them dearly. I purchased them with my blood. They believed in me. No longer are they your enemies in sin, but they are your redeemed children and heirs of everlasting life. We sent them to confess these saving truths to the world. They endured reproach and shame for that. They have borne the sneers and the laughter of unbelievers. They are my brothers, joint heirs with me of everything that You have given me. As You love me, so must You love them. Guide them, bless them, sustain them, strengthen them, and eventually glorify them even as You have glorified me, for they live in me, and I live in them. We are one, now and forever. I acknowledge them before You.”

Now, let me ask you, dear Christian friend, what does such acknowledgement of your Savior mean? It means so simply, yet so profoundly that God is on your side and you shall prevail in your confession of Him. And not only is He on your side but His blessings, His gracious, good, and eternal blessings rest upon you.

If that is true, which Jesus acknowledges here, then Stand Up for Him , stand up fearlessly for your enemies, even Satan, can do you no harm. They can do no more than kill your body, which is a terrible thing in itself. But in that very moment should they do that, you would find yourself victoriously slipping from their grasp into the eternal grip of the Savior as He receives you unto Himself in heavenly glory. How bad could that be? You see, it is just another way of Jesus saying to you, “Nothing can pluck you from my hand.”

In order to assure us of such gracious care, He points our attention in our text to some common birds, the sparrows. To this day sparrows are not highly valued when compared to other birds. In Jesus' day they were more useable as food, but they were sold for a very low price to poor people who couldn't afford anything better – sold for a fraction of a penny. Cheap, insignificant. Yet not to God who created them and watches over even the most common and ordinary of His creatures. Not one of these ordinary ones can fall to the ground without Him.

And if God watches out for each sparrow, a creature which has no soul, what must He do for you, dear friend, bought with the price of His own Son? Could God possibly forget or be unconcerned about you who believe and confess His Son? Unthinkable! He even knows how many hairs are on your head. Nothing, absolutely nothing escapes His notice; nothing is beyond His control. You are safe, dear believer, safe in the hands of God.

So Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus fearless in the face of opposition , knowing that you are acknowledged before the face of God. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus' sake. Amen.