Sacrifice, Not Martyr (Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13, 18, 20, 21)

Saint Peter by  Bartolomé Esteban Murillo  (1617–1682)

Saint Peter by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682)

How glorious it seemed to me,

To die for Jesus.

And so I shall,

But not for my glory.

His story, not mine, defines my death.


He knew

My peril as prey of Satan,

And prayed for me;

But His warning found no place

To pierce my pride.

I turned aside His words,

And plunged headlong into the trap

The Enemy had set for me.

In the Garden I was ready,

Sword in hand, bold for battle!

But the Master stayed my hand

And healed the man I struck.

Disarmed and cowed,

I fled.


Following from afar,

Defenseless now for the real assault

(For I could not shift to the plane of His example),

I stood by the fire to observe,

Hoping yet to save Him from Himself.

And then those questions—

Pointing to me as one of His.

But none of His I proved.

Oblivious to my sin,

I betrayed Him from within.

And then His gentle gaze

Drove home cock’s crow,

Soul-piercing sound

That brought the bitter tears.


That purging, though,

Was not the end,

For Him nor me.

As Thomas touched His wounds

And healing found therein,

So I was also called anew

Beside Genessaret,

When one last time He supped with us.

Not my boast this time

Was focus for His words,

But gentle probing of my love for Him.

Profounder death he called for then

Than sword could bring:

Living sacrifice to serve His sheep,

And glory at the end,

When God would send

His cross for me.

                                                                                                Elton D. Higgs

                                                                                                July 1, 2014




Elton Higgs

Dr. Elton Higgs was a faculty member in the English department of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1965-2001. Having retired from UM-D as Prof. of English in 2001, he now lives with his wife and adult daughter in Jackson, MI.. He has published scholarly articles on Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl Poet, Shakespeare, and Milton. His self-published Collected Poems is online at He also published a couple dozen short articles in religious journals. (Ed.: Dr. Higgs was the most important mentor during undergrad for the creator of this website, and his influence was inestimable; it's thrilling to welcome this dear friend onboard.)