The first five meditations in this series focus on the character and cost of discipleship. The final meditation focuses on the rewards for diligently following Jesus.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5.11-12
- Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9.23
- Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken Psalm 62. 1-2
Today, as in biblical times, a cross represents hardship and suffering. Jesus’ use of the phrase: “…take up their cross daily…” (Luke 9.23) serves as a warning and encouragement to all who earnestly seek to follow him. Jesus lets prospective disciples know they will experience persecution simply because of their allegiance to him. Jesus tells them about the struggles they will face so they won’t be caught off guard or discouraged by the waves of persecution they will face. He also wants them to know they are not alone in suffering for the sake of righteousness. Hence in Matthew 5.12, Jesus offers the following encouraging words, “…for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Moreover, in the first part of Matthew 5.12, Jesus makes clear the rewards for discipleship far outweigh the sufferings his followers will experience in this life.
Food for Thought
Rewards for following Jesus include the following.
- Those who follow Jesus are guaranteed the blessing of eternal life- existing perpetually in the presence of the only true, wise, and living God.
- Those who follow Jesus have instant and constant fellowship with God-speaking to God and knowing God hears them and interacts with them
- Those who follow Jesus experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit-God’s Spirit abides in all those who follow Jesus, guiding, comforting, and working on their behalf. The Holy Spirit empowers Jesus’ followers to stand firm in the midst of every persecution.
- Those who follow Jesus have the benefit of having Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God, advocating for them.
- Those who follow Jesus’ are empowered with wisdom because they are anointed with spiritual eyes, spiritual ears, and hearts receptive to Jesus’ teachings.
- Those who follow Jesus are empowered to resist evil.
- Those who follow Jesus experience the joy of fellowshipping with God; peace that surpasses understanding, and contentment in every situation- knowing God will work every situation to their good.
May the Spirit of the only true, wise, and living God continue to rest, rule, and abide with us. Amen.
Glory to God!