Leaping into the life of Christ together. Living for Jesus and making him known.

May 3

Nero and the Frozen Lake

Nero was a Roman Emperor from 54 – 68 AD. He was into things cultural so had theatres built as well as promoting athletic games. He was Emperor when much of Rome was burnt to the ground and some even blamed it on him, which is likely considering his big plans to build a great palace called the Domus Aurea.

In Christian circles he is most remembered though for his cruelty in general yet especially toward Christians. Anyone who was not afraid of dying he had no sway over so he attempted to exterminate as many Christ followers as he could. With most people he held the terror of torture or death over their heads if they didn’t do things his way. With the believers who had a higher ruler and no fear of dying though his only option was to try and rid the nation of every last one of them.

He is most well known as throwing the Christians to the Lions in the coliseum and even movies have been made of such a practice. It was a sport that sated his bloodlust yet not for long. His hatred of Christ followers was strong and deep.

Patricia St John tells of a time during the winter when the coliseum was closed. Forty Christians were rounded up and brought before Nero. He told his captain to take them up the hill to a frozen lake and strip them and take them to the centre of the lake . He was then to light a fire , cook some meat and wait until they all died or recanted and stumbled back to shore.

The captain did as he was instructed yet with a heavy heart as he was a secret follower of Jesus. He had seen much torture and suffering over the years though and was not willing to let other know his true feelings and beliefs.  As the forty felt the effects of the bitter cold night air on the frozen lake they began to sing;

"forty wrestlers wrestling for you O Christ.

Winning for you the victory, claiming for you the crown."

He could hardly believe it and was deeply ashamed yet also something stirred within him. Later on in the night the singing stopped as one of the believers in Jesus was overcome by the cold and looked at the fire and staggered back onto the shore. The soldiers mocked him and gave him his clothes and some meat to eat while he warmed himself by the fire.

Suddenly the soldiers became very quiet. They watched in shock as their captain took of his clothes and walked out onto the ice to join the sufferers. Once again as the group welcomed him with real joy the song burst out again across the frozen lake and up to heaven;

"forty wrestlers wrestling for you O Christ.

Winning for you the victory, claiming for you the crown."

Where does joy like this come from? Why suffer for Christ like that? Only if Christ is real and lives within us can we understand why someone would live and die in such a way. If you are a secret believer remain one no longer. The joy of Christ awaits you despite suffering.


Return to Articles