The martyrdom of Polycarp mirrors the crucifixion of Jesus in many ways. One of the first similarities is that Polycarp recognizes that he must be sacrificed for his faith, much like Jesus knew that it was his duty to die for the sins of mankind. Not only this, but both Polycarp and Jesus knew more specific details about their deaths. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that he must die in Jerusalem, for no prophet has ever died outside Jerusalem. Similarly, Polycarp understands the manner in which he must die after a vision of his pillow being set of fire, and states “’It is necessary that I be burned alive.’” Not only do both men realize that they must die; however, they both calmly accept their fates as prescribed by God.
At his arrest, Polycarp warmly welcomes the police with a meal and touches them on a deep level; it is apparent that the police do not want to arrest such a kind and Godly man. Then at his trial, Polycarp is empowered to speak and act courageously and happily in the face of death because he was confident in God’s power to grant him everlasting life. Such assurance from Polycarp must have been incredibly inspiring to other Christians who were facing similar fates at the hands of persecution.
Finally, when the fire is set to martyr Polycarp, the flames surround him cannot kill him. Polycarp’s body becomes “like bread baking or like gold and silver being refined in a furnace.” God is sending down his spirit to Polycarp for his whole-hearted devotion to Christ and is protecting him. When the executioner finally stabs Polycarp, the entire crowd becomes penitent for their actions; much like what was seen in the Gospel of Luke when the centurion claimed “’Certainly this man was innocent.’” Both of their deaths inspired a sense of repentance in those that killed them, calling to light another similarity between the martyrdom of Polycarp and the crucifixion of Jesus.