Jun24WedJune 24, 2020
It probably wasn’t more than a few months since Jesus had invited some of his disciples to join him in full-time ministry before they heard these words. I wonder if they gasped when Jesus looked at them and said that social ridicule, persecution and false accusations were coming. The disciples may have already encountered some of this from family members or friends, but I’m certain that they had no idea what the next decades would hold.
Only Jesus knew that Judas would betray their trust in a few years. Only Jesus knew that Saul of Tarsus would encourage the Sanhedrin to arrest Christians in the next decade. Only Jesus knew that Emperor Nero would shift blame upon Christians for his own political aspirations and use them for human torches. Only Jesus knew that Titus Vespasian would overrun Jerusalem, pillage the temple and burn it to the ground exactly forty years from his own death upon a cross. Only Jesus knew that all but John would be martyred for their leadership in the church.
The disciples did not know what was coming.
Jesus never promised that life under His reign would be free from trials. In fact, Jesus continually spoke about a great cost involved in being part of the Kingdom while on this earth. The introduction to His sermon doesn’t sugar-coat this either. Sacrifice, self-denial, and persecution are all part of the path of discipleship.
To add to this, many of us know from our own experiences that there are moments when external circumstances seem grim, discouraging or hopeless. Although the Holy Spirit offers peace and joy in such moments, it can still be easy to entertain feelings of abandonment and question whether clinging to faith in Jesus is worth the effort. We can wonder if past generations had it easier or if our difficulties have caught God off guard.
But, let us remember that our greatest hope does not rest in that which is seen but rather that which is coming. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven!”
Let’s consider some of these rewards.
For those who have admitted their spiritual need before Jesus, there is a future comfort from sin and sickness which will make earthly afflictions seem like a distant dream. There will be a fullness of joy and satisfaction which the experiences of earth cannot compare. There is a kingdom coming in which we will be invited into royal leadership and reign with Christ as sons and daughters.
But best of all, we will see God face-to-face and enjoy His presence forever.
In light of the difficulties in our world, these rewards may be hard to fathom but…“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9). Yes, the future Kingdom is worth the present cost.
Lord, help us remember that these present sufferings do not compare to the glory which is coming. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.