Rejoice Despite Persecution

What did Jesus say to those who are persecuted because of Him? “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:12). To be blessed is to be happy. To be happy is to rejoice and be glad. Now to rejoice and be glad is more a decision than an emotion. Joy is a decision that you make. Decide to be joyful today.

To rejoice is the same as to be glad. It sounds redundant. But Jesus is emphasizing the blessing of joy by being redundant. Jesus wants you to be very happy and exceedingly glad.

What makes you happy, joyful, and glad? We always think sad thoughts. We should think happy thoughts. In the movie, Peter Pan, Wendy asked Peter Pan how he can fly. Peter Pan said it’s easy. Just think happy thoughts and you will fly. Are you thinking sad thoughts today? Think happy thoughts.

Rejoice and be glad, Jesus said. Actually, you are to have an attitude of joy! Say after me, “This is the day that the LORD has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Are you sad today? Are you facing many trials? Is someone insulting you, telling bad things about you because of Christ? Have an attitude of joy! Say it again, “This is the day that the LORD has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

In v. 12, Jesus gives two reasons why you should rejoice and be glad when you suffer persecution because of Christ. First, your reward is great in heaven. Second, you join the prophets who also suffered like you.

Jesus said, rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven. The word, “great” (polus), means, “much, large, great” (Gingrich). The word, “reward” (misthos), literally means, “wages.” Your wages, your pay, your compensation, is great, much, large in heaven! It literally reads, “Your wages great in the heavens.” Your great reward is in heaven.

A pastor died and went to heaven. A bus driver was ahead of him. St. Peter said, “State your name and occupation.” The man said, “I’m JanJan Aloyon, driver of D’Rough Rider bus. In Cebu, the Rough Rider bus is known for many road accidents and many people killed.

St. Peter checks his list and and gives the driver a key to a mansion. “Take this key and go to the biggest mansion on 1st St.”

The pastor came up to St. Peter and says, “I’m Pastor Henry Trocino of God of Grace Christian Fellowship, Inc., Maxwell Hotel, Escario St., Cebu City.”

St. Peter checks his list and gives the pastor a key to a small house. “Take this key and go to the smallest house on 2nd St.”

“I don’t understand,” he complained to St. Peter. “I devoted my entire life to my church.”

St. Peter explained, “Our policy is to reward results. Now what happened, Pastor, whenever you preached a sermon?”

The pastor said, “I must admit that when I preach, some people in church fell asleep.”

“Exactly,” said St. Peter. “And when people rode in this man’s bus, they not only stayed awake, they prayed.” 

Heaven is yet future. Jesus says that your future reward should be the reason for your present joy. Because of your great reward in the future, rejoice in the present. It is the confidence of your future reward in heaven that you should rejoice and be glad on earth, despite the pain of persecution.

Rejoice, Jesus said, because that is how they persecuted the prophets. They spoke evil things against the prophets. They spoke lies against the prophets. Don’t ever think that you’re the only one who has suffered. The prophets also suffered the same thing. But the prophets suffered for God. Now you suffer for Christ. Jesus is putting Himself in the place of God. As God is the reason why the prophets suffered, so Christ is now the reason why they suffer. By implication, the kingdom of God is the kingdom of Christ. Where Christ rules, there are blessings. If Christ rules in your heart, blessed are you.

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