We were thinking of the many people who were persecuted in scripture for not bowing to the gods of this world. Do you realize that Daniel was thrown into the lion's den because of the jealousy of other men who wanted Daniel's job? It was for envy that the king's men pushed the law to "not pray to anyone but the king" so they could get Daniel out of their way. They knew Daniel was steadfast in his prayer life and that was just the key to getting him killed. They just knew that he would return to his place of prayer, again, as he did every day. They also knew that the king would be puffed up to be heralded and worshipped as "a god" in everyone's eyes.
Paul and Silas were thrown into jail after being beat not because of their preaching but literally because of Paul affecting the pocket book of the slave girl's owners who could no longer use her to make money. She used to "fortune-tell" by demonic spirits for them. So they dragged Paul and Silas to the magistrates to have them beaten for driving out demons in the girl. Could they not see the freedom that was brought for the girl who had been tormented?
The blind man who spent his entire life sitting and begging for alms, was born blind. Jesus, with His disciples following Him, walked up to the man. Jesus took a little dirt from the earth and spit into it to make mud. He smeared the mud on the man's eyes and told him to go wash the mud from them in the pool of Bethesda. He took his walking stick and went... This was on the Sabbath. When the man began to wash the mud off his eyes, he could see! When the religious leaders found out what had happened, they brought the blind man before them and asked him to testify about this man who healed him on the Sabbath. The leaders did not see the tremendous miracle that had occurred! Rather, they were furious that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath! "He cannot be from God," they said, "because he healed someone on the Sabbath! They viewed it as defiance against their authority.
Jesus was persecuted because he did good deeds on the Sabbath. The hearts of the Pharisees and other religious leaders were fixed on their traditions and failed to see the wonder of what God was doing. Jesus, God in the flesh, appeared before them but their hearts were hard. They were jealous for their pomp and position. They were jealous for their stone temple. They were jealous because Jesus spoke to the people's very soul and spirit. People followed Jesus, rather than the leaders of the temple. The leaders were bent on power and prestige. They liked to be seated at the places of honor yet they did not recognize the Messiah that they read about in the synogogue. Instead they killed Him.
What is unique about persecution and martyrdom is that life doesn't end there. God created mankind as eternal souls. All who die in Jesus go to live on with him eternally. Jesus proved it by his resurrection from the dead. No one else could do what he did. Three days in the grave and his body did not see decay but arose! The world thinks that by killing someone it can rid the world of that person. But this life is but a flash, a withering flower.
Our life is found in Jesus eternally, after we bury this body and are raised imperishable in Jesus. What a future just begins!