REJOICING IN THE PERSECUTION
This verse follows Jesus’ statement about the blessings of persecution—hatred, exclusion, insult and rejection—in Luke 6:22. It parallels Jesus’ teaching in Matthew (5:12) about how we should respond when persecution comes our way.
Jesus does not just say to accept or receive it gracefully. He seems to almost go overboard in indicating that we should be glad, and rejoice by leaping for joy when we receive this kind of treatment. Some would say Jesus goes over the top here.
The reason for rejoicing is because the persecuted disciple of Jesus is going to receive a great reward in heaven, and is in the company of the prophets of old who also received this kind of treatment.
But can we realistically “jump for joy” in the face of persecution?
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was languishing in a Romanian prison cell after months of torture and isolation. He was meditating on this scripture and decided to make a literal application. So Richard danced, as much as anyone could dance in a cell three paces square, leaping about the room like a madman. The first time he did it, the guard really did think he had gone mad. It was one of the guard’s duties to watch for signs that a prisoner’s mind was beginning to crack under the strain of imprisonment, for if he went to pieces, a prisoner would be of no more use for questioning. So the guard rushed off to his canteen and came back with a hunk of bread and some cheese and sugar. The guard broke the rule of silence as he tried to soothe this strange, laughing, capering figure. Richard ate the food gratefully. It was a very large hunk of bread, far more than he usually had in a whole week!
In his book, In God’s Underground, Richard Wurmbrand shares how encouraged he was at responding literally to Jesus’ direction to react to persecution with great joy and rejoicing! He had received a reward on earth, as well as in heaven.
Today I will respond to even mild persecution because of Jesus with great rejoicing, realizing I will receive a wonderful reward in heaven.
Thank you Lord that You expect me to take Your Word literally. Help me to be joyful in the face of any persecution for You.