"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,
for great is your reward in Heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you"
Jesus concludes the section of Scripture known as the Beatitudes by encouraging those who are spiritually blessed to rejoice and be exceedingly glad in that fact. Much has been written in the New Testament regarding Christian joy. And much of this writing ties Joy/Rejoicing together with Persecution/Trials.
Romans 11.12 describes Christians as those who ought to be "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer." James wrote, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James1.2-3). Paul, writing from a Roman prison, wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4.4).
Have you ever met someone who was "exceedingly glad?" Someone who, no matter what it seems, was always in a pleasant mood and uplifting to be around? These are some of the most pleasant personalities to encounter, and by all means, we should most often encounter them in the church!
And yet too many times, is it not the case that brethren let the trials and ups and downs of life suppress or conceal their joy? Using James' expression. "My brethren, these things ought not so to be!"
In tying Rejoicing/Exceeding Gladness to persecution, Jesus mentions our reward in Heaven, and also the fact that the prophets before us were also persecuted. We must remember that the suffering that we must go through in this life PALES in comparison to the abundance of the blessings that we will enjoy in Heaven! It will all be worth it. Of this we must be assured!
In the remainder of this article, let us consider some examples of persecution that the prophets (and others) endured for the Lord's sake, and let us ask ourselves if we would be willing to do the same? Hebrews 11.37 informs us that they:
This is just ONE verse that shows how terribly they were treated! And yet, these faithful men of God could hold on to the hope that they would be found faithful, and would enter into the joy of our Lord in Heaven! If they could find hope and joy in those circumstances, then certainly we can find hope and joy, being EXCEEDINGLY GLAD, in the various trials that come our way too!
— CHASE GREEN
From Think Magazine: Focus Press, Inc
Brentwood TN – October 2020