<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1758373551078632&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

We remember today the martyrdom of Lawrence, who boldly stood his ground against the Roman authorities until the very end. Our devotion comes from One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Christians Through the Centuries.

Introduction

Lawrence was a third-century deacon in Rome. In his death, he echoed that of Jesus by demonstrating that the greatest victory in our faith comes through suffering rather than through brute force. While we lament Lawrence’s loss of life and the pain he endured, we also thank God for using his death as a witness that brought many other people to faith.

Devotional Reading

Prudentius’s verse portrays Lawrence as a Christian champion who fought against pagan Rome. He was fearless before the power of the Roman Empire. In his death and apparent defeat, this humble Roman deacon was a martyr and actually victorious.

Two events precipitated Lawrence’s martyrdom. The first was a prophecy. The persecution of Christianity was in full swing with the crucifixion of Pope Sixtus. With Lawrence, the archdeacon at Rome, lamenting at the foot of his cross, Sixtus prophesied that Lawrence would follow him into martyrdom in three days.

The second event occurred on the same day as the first. The Roman prefect, desirous of money, summoned Lawrence who was responsible for the Church of Rome’s treasury. The prefect complained that Christians condemned the Roman gods and noted greedily that the Christian Church was extremely wealthy: silver chalices and golden candlesticks and great deposits of coins. For the welfare of the empire, he demanded that Lawrence hand over the treasures of the church. To encourage Lawrence, the prefect cited Jesus: The image on a coin is not God, but Caesar (Matthew 22:19–21), and poverty is a virtue (Luke 6:20). In the following three days, Lawrence gathered the impoverished and crippled and diseased for whom the church cared, also virgins and widows, presented them to the prefect, and declared that these are the treasures of the Church. Chosen by God and hated by man, Lawrence trod the path of martyrdom.

The prefect, expecting riches and receiving the impoverished, was so infuriated with Lawrence that he promised him a long and painful death by fire. Led to the pyre, his face glowed as had those of Moses in the Old Testament and Stephen in the New Testament. As the flames scorched his flesh, Lawrence made a mockery of this torment. Rather than crying out in pain, he calmly noted to the prefect that he was well done on one side and needed to be turned to the other. With his final breath, he prayed to God on behalf of pagan Rome and prophesied of a future Christian emperor.

The martyrdom of Lawrence turned the spiritual tide of the day. Many Romans—senators and pagan priests and others—were converted to the Christian faith. While the pagan temples emptied, multitudes flocked to Christian altars. Satan was defeated in this battle.

In his martyrdom, the countenance of Lawrence shone like those before him who had been in the presence of God. Lawrence was a Christian warrior like Jesus. Neither used a sword nor led an army. Both suffered and died. Both wrestled not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Both were victorious in death.

Devotional reading is from One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Christians Through the Centuries, pages 77–78 © 2006 Thomas A. Von Hagel. Published by Concordia Publishing House.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Prayer

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified, mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace, through the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer is from Meditations for College Students, page 48 © 1961 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

Featured

Racial Healing Begins with Recognizing Our Neighbor

Using the parable of the good Samaritan see how you can begin to show mercy to others and understand your neighbor and what they need to...

5 Non-Traditional Options for Teaching the Bible this Summer

Decisions are being made about how to continue teaching children about their Savior this summer. Here are some options to consider for...

Psalm 23: Christ Is Our Shepherd

The Lord is our Shepherd. Psalm 23 is beloved by many Christians—see why it’s so popular with an excerpt from the commentary by Timothy...

Latest

Things I Love About My Dad

Daughters are blessed to have human fathers and a Heavenly father. As Father’s Day approaches, take a minute to thank the Lord for your...

A Different Kind of Memorial Day

Take this day to pray for our armed forces and remember those who have gone before us— fighting for the faith.

Five Reasons to Start Reading with CPH Reads

Summer reading programs are a great way to get children to read more during the summer. Here are five reasons to get excited for CPH’s...