¹²Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Jesus said persecution should actually cause us to rejoice. There are many positive things about persecution, but one of the best reasons to rejoice is because of the reward awaiting us in heaven after we endure it, refusing to lose our faith in Him.
Jesus takes the persecution of His saints seriously, as can be seen during the Damascus road experience of the apostle Paul. The Lord asked Paul (then Saul), “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). He didn’t say, “Why are you persecuting my people?” but “Why are you persecuting Me?”
It is not actually us that people are rejecting; they are rejecting the One we represent. We are the body of Jesus Christ on this earth. Whatever people say or do to us, they are saying it and doing it to Jesus. Therefore, Jesus promised to share His reward with us. Jesus will share all His glory and honor with those who have suffered shame for His name’s sake. (Rom. 8:17.) What a great reward.
Focusing on the reward instead of the persecution can actually make you rejoice when people speak against you or mock you because of your faith. (Acts 5:41.) Paul actually longed to experience the fellowship Jesus provided to those who suffered for His sake. Paul knew he would not only know Jesus more intimately but also walk in His resurrection power. (Phil. 3:10.)
For all these reasons, if you encounter persecution for your faith in Jesus Christ today, lift up your head and rejoice! His reward is infinitely greater than any suffering you endure.