What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus, to count the cost and carry our cross? Anna Jansz, a 16th century martyr, came to faith amidst chaos and revolution in 16th century Holland. She chose the way of Christ and loved not her life until death. In this, she demonstrated the courage and strength of Kingdom womanhood and her last words to an infant son echo to us across the centuries.
Script adapted from “The Costly Discipleship of Anna Jantz” by Dr. Gerald Mast.
Read Anna’s story and original letter in the Martyr’s Mirror.
Anna’s Letter to Her Son
My son, hear the instruction of your mother; open your ears to hear the words of my mouth. Prov. 1:8. Behold, I go to-day the way of the prophets, apostles and martyrs, and drink of the cup of which they all have drank. Matt. 20:23. I go, I say, the way which Christ Jesus, the eternal word of the Father, full of grace and truth, the Shepherd of the sheep, who is the Life, himself went, and who went this way, and not another, and who had to drink of this cup, even as he said: “I have a cup to drink of, and a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Having passed through, he calls his sheep, and his sheep hear his voice, and follow him whithersoever he goes; for this is the way to the true fountain. John 10:27; 4:14. This way was traveled by the royal priests who came from the rising of the sun, as we read in revelation, and entered into the ages of eternity, and had to drink of this cup. 1 Peter 2:9.
This way was trodden by the dead under the altar, who cry, saying: Lord, Almighty God, when wilt thou avenge the blood that has been shed? White robes were given unto them, and it was said to them; Wait yet for a little season, until the number of your brethren that are yet to be killed for the testimony of Jesus, be fulfilled. Rev. 6:9–11. These also drank of the cup, and are gone above to keep the eternal, holy Sabbath of the Lord. This is the way in which walked the twenty-four elders, who stand before the throne of God, and cast their crowns and harps before the throne of the Lamb, falling down upon their faces, and saying: Lord, unto thee alone be praise, glory, power, and strength, who shalt avenge the blood of thy servants and ministers, and shalt through thyself gain the victory. Great be thy name, Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Rev. 4:8,10.
In this way walked also those who were marked by the Lord, and received the mark Thau upon their foreheads (Ezek. 9:6), who were chosen from among all nations of men, who were not defiled with women (understand this), and who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Rev. 14:4.
Behold, all these had to drink of the cup of bitterness, as will also all those have to do, who are still wanting to complete the number and fulfillment of Zion, the bride of the Lamb, which is the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2), the city and throne of God, in which the glory of the great King shall be seen, when the feast of tabernacles will be kept and celebrated in the days of eternal rest and joy. Zech. 14:16.
Behold, all these could not attain to this, without first suffering judgment and chastisement in their flesh; for Christ Jesus, the eternal truth, was the first, when it is written: “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. 13:8. So Paul says: Thus it pleased the Father, that all whom he predestinated from eternity, he called, elected, justified, and made to be conformed to the image of his Son. Rom. 8:29,30. Our blessed Savior also says: The servant is not above his Lord; but it is sufficient for him, that he be like his Lord and Master. Matt. 10:24. Also Peter says: “The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Pet. 4:17,18. Read also in Proverbs(11:31): “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” See, my son, here you can hear that no one can come unto life, except through this way. Therefore enter in through the strait gate, receive the chastisement and instruction of the Lord, bow your shoulders under his yoke, and cheerfully bear it from your youth, with thanksgiving, rejoicing and honor; for he accepts or receives no son, whom he does not chasten. Hebrews 12:6. Paul further says: If you forsake the chastisement, whereof they were all partakers, ye are bastards, and not children, and shall be cast out from the inheritance of the children of God.
If you, therefore, desire to enter into the regions of the holy world, and into the inheritance of the saints, gird your loins, and follow after them; search the Scriptures, and it shall show you their ways. John 5:39. The angel who spake to the prophet said: “There is also another thing: A city is builded, and set upon a broad field, and is full of all good things: the entrance thereof is narrow, and set in a dangerous place to fall, like as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water: and one only path between them both, even between the fire and the water, so small that there could but one man go there at once. If this city now were given unto a man for an inheritance, if he never shall pass the danger set before it, how shall he receive this inheritance?” 2 Esd. 7:6–9. See, my son, this way has no retreats; there are no roundabout or crooked little paths; whosoever departs to the right or to the left, inherits death. Behold, this is the way which is found by so few, and walked by a still far smaller number; for there are some who well perceive that this is the way to life; but it is too severe for them; it pains their flesh.
Therefore, my child, do not regard the great number, nor walk in their ways. Remove thy foot far from their paths, for they go to hell, as sheep unto death; even as Isaiah says: “Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude . . . shall descend into it.” Is. 5:14. “It is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them.” Is. 27:11. But where you hear of a poor, simple, cast-off little flock (Luke 12:32), which is despised and rejected by the world, join them; for where you hear of the cross, there is Christ; from there do not depart. Flee the shadow of this world; become united with God; fear him alone, keep his commandments, observe all his words, to do them; write them upon the table of your heart, bind them upon your forehead, speak day and night of his law and you will be a pleasant tree and a sprout in the courts of the Lord, a beloved plant growing up in Zion. Ps. 92:13. Take the fear of the Lord to be your father, and wisdom shall be the mother of your understanding. If you know this, my son, happy are you if you do it. John 13:17. Observe that which the Lord commands you, and sanctify your body to his service, that his name may be sanctified, praised, and made glorious and great in you. Be not ashamed to confess him before men; do not fear men; rather give up your life, than to depart from the truth. If you lose your body, which is earthly, the Lord your God has prepared you a better one in heaven. 2 Cor. 5:1.
Therefore, my child, strive for righteousness unto death, and arm yourself with the armor of God. Be a pious Israelite, trample under foot all unrighteousness, the world and all that is in it, and love only that which is above. 1 John 2:15. Remember, that you are not of this world, even as your Lord and Master was not. John 15:19. Be a faithful disciple of Christ; for none is fit to pray, unless he has become his disciple, and not before. Col. 1:7; John 9:31. Those who said: “We have left all,” also 438 said: “Teach us to pray.” Luke 18:28; 11:1. They were those for whom the Lord prayed, and not the world (John 17:9); for when the world prays, they call upon their father, the Devil, and desire that his will be done, as is also the case. Therefore, my son, do not become like them, but shun and flee them, and have neither part nor fellowship with them. Rom. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:4. Do not regard that which is before your eyes, but seek only those things which are above. Col. 3:1. O my child, be mindful of my admonition, and forsake it not. May the Lord cause you to grow up in his fear, and fill your understanding with his Spirit. 2 Peter 3:18. Sanctify yourself to the Lord, my son; sanctify your whole conduct in the fear of your God. Lev. 20:7. Whatever you do, do it all to the praise of his name. Honor the Lord in the works of your hands, and let the light of the Gospel shine through you. Love your neighbor. Deal with an open, warm heart thy bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, and suffer not to have anything twofold; for there are always some who lack. Matt. 26:11. Whatever the Lord grants you from the sweat of your face, above what you need, communicate to those of whom you know that they love the Lord (Genesis 3:19; Ps. 112:9); and suffer nothing to remain in your possession until the morrow, and the Lord shall bless the work of your hands, and give you his blessing for an inheritance. Deut. 28:12. O my son, let your life be conformed to the Gospel, and the God of peace, sanctify your soul and body, to his praise. Amen. Phil. 1:27; 1 Thess. 5:23.
O holy Father, sanctify the son of thy handmaiden in thy truth, and keep him from the evil, for thy name’s sake, O Lord.