Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You and I aren’t persecuted. Persecution is a man being thrown off the pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple because he preached that Jesus was the Christ. Persecution is watching your family be murdered and standing outside naked in the snow until you recant your faith in Christ, or die refusing. Very few of us will ever experience true persecution.
And yet, for those of us who will, for our spiritual predecessors who have, and for our brothers and sisters across the ocean even now… For those who truly are persecuted, Jesus has promised a great reward. This reward is not one stored on earth, but one waiting for them in heaven. Jesus Christ will personally deliver it; no sword or bullet will prevent His children from receiving what He has promised.
It is for this reason that Jesus commands the persecuted to “Rejoice and be glad.” Christ doesn’t wish His persecuted church would rejoice, He commands them to rise to the occasion. He commands them to embrace their persecution with a content heart, knowing that no one can truly be against them if He is for them.
The believer’s joy in the midst of persecution is like a thunderous battle cry. To the foe, it brings fear and shuttering, a constant reminder that his fait has already been sealed. To the fellow believer, joy in the midst of persecution is a rally cry, calling all saints to arms. To see my brothers and sisters in China die for the cross challenges me to live for it. It challenges me to rejoice and be glad in my comparatively easy lifestyle.
Chances are, you aren’t persecuted either. How much more, then, do you suppose that Christ wants you to rejoice when your friends betray you, when your family rejects you, or when schedule is full?