REJOICING IN PERSECUTION
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” Luke 6:23
This scripture verse follows Jesus’ statement about the blessings of persecution: hatred, exclusion, insult and rejection in Luke 6:22. This description is of persecution that is like Indian curry. It can be mild, medium or hot! And this verse parallels Jesus teaching in Matthew (5:12) about how we should respond when persecution comes our way.
Jesus does not just say accept it 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.
Can we realistically “jump for joy” in the face of persecution?
Pastor Richard Wurmbrandt was languishing in a Romanian prison cell after months of torture and now 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, and 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 Wurmbrandt 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.
RESPONSE: Today I will respond to even mild persecution because of Jesus with great rejoicing realizing I will receive a wonderful reward in heaven.
PRAYER: 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.