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How did Jesus expect me to react under persecutionRejoice and be glad! That is right. I’m jump up and down for joy.

Now that is radically different. That isn’t what I thought Jesus would say.

I am not to retaliate like an unbeliever, nor to sulk like a child, nor to lick my wounds in self-pity like a dog, nor just to grin and bear it like a Stoic, still less to pretend I enjoy it like a masochist.

“Happy (aka Blessed) are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” | Matthew 5:11-12

What then?

I am to rejoice as a disciple should rejoice and even to ‘leap for joy’.

Why so? Partly because, Jesus added, my reward is great in heaven. I may lose everything on earth, but I will inherit everything in heaven — not as a reward for merit, however, because ‘the promise of the reward is free’. Partly because persecution is a token of genuineness, a certificate of authenticity, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before me.

When I am persecuted today, I belong to a noble succession. But the major reason why I should rejoice is because I am suffering, he said, on my account, on account of my loyalty to Jesus and to his standards of truth and righteousness.

Certainly the apostles learnt this lesson well for, having been beaten and threatened by the Sanhedrin, ‘they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name’.

They knew, as I should, that ‘wounds and hurts are medals of honour’ for Jesus.