April 14

Text: Matthew 13:16, 17

 "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (NASB)

It is shocking and impressive to note throughout the New Testament that people felt a sense of privilege in following Jesus.  Though discipleship often cost them—through suffering, loss of jobs, being ostracized from the community, being jailed, being abused, even being killed—they felt this privilege. 

When the apostles were beaten at the direction of the Jerusalem Jewish council, Acts 5:41 said, So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.  Later, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; . . .  (If you need a reminder of all Paul suffered for Jesus, read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.)

Jesus was open about the fact that following him would result in suffering.  He declared to many in Matthew 5:10-12, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.  Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  When many disciples left him because of a teaching, consider what happened in John 6:67-69:  Jesus said therefore to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"  Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."

Why should there be this sense of privilege in suffering for Jesus?  Jesus taught them an enduring reason for living in a temporary world; a new way to look at people; a new way to look at life; and they appreciated all those.  Jesus also proved that God kept His promises—always!  Sound hope in a disappointing world is a precious thing!

 Suggestion for reflection: How deeply do you appreciate what Jesus taught you?  (Read 1 Peter 1:10-12.)

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