Key Scripture: Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Throughout much of Christian History there are instances of people being ridiculed, beaten, and even killed for their faith in God. Here in Matthew 5, Jesus continues expounding on v. 10-11 by telling His disciples that they can rejoice and be glad, even in the midst of persecution. But how could one choose to have joy in the midst of great difficulty? Jesus gives the solution when He says, “Great is your reward in heaven.” He challenges the disciples to take their focus off of what is seen and fix it upon what is unseen, what is yet to come, that which is eternal.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Jesus reminds the disciples that just like they will suffer at the hands of those who oppose the gospel and stand against the things of God, so too did the prophets before them suffer. Those heroes of the faith we read about in Hebrews 11 also encountered great difficulty, but they persevered by looking to their reward.
Fellow Christian, we must remember the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he said, “Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact it is a joy and a token of his grace.”
Questions to Consider:
When the difficulties of this life are heavy upon me, where do I look for help? To whom does my heart gravitate? Do I truly value the reality of spending eternity with Christ? Does that reality empower me to stand in the face of opposition to my faith?
God, help me remain faithful to you regardless of how others around me feel about you. Father, show your strength in me when I am too weak to take another step.
“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7