From Yesterday…”I love the words of Howard B. Gross in his Hymn, “Give of Your Best to the Master”: “Jesus has set the example, dauntless was He young and brave.” The only way life could have been easy for Jesus would have been for Him not to come. The way He came wasn’t just the best way. It was the only way. Do you see a pattern?”
Jesus had every right to teach on the subject of persecution since He was “despised and rejected” and “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Satan persecuted Jesus directly and indirectly through the evil intent of man. One of Jesus’ habits that infuriated the Jewish leadership was His insistence on healing on the Sabbath. I am convinced He did this on purpose to emphasis the inseparable bond between worship and mercy. But it didn’t win Him any points. After Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath we are told, “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Him” (John 5:16). I should point out, not all of the Jews persecuted Jesus, since His disciples were all Jewish, yet those in control hounded Him all the way to Calvary.
Although Jesus always seemed to be in trouble with someone, He didn’t enjoy suffering for suffering’s sake. He was, however, willing to do anything for our salvation, and if that meant enduring persecution, He was ready.
When we suffer for our faith, we are following Jesus’ example, and filling up what He has left behind for those who wish to come after Him (Colossians 1:24). Jesus asked us to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). I think this cross includes the normal struggles and temptations we face in the normal course of our lives. But it also suggests some of us might be called upon to make an extraordinary sacrifice. We know the full extent of these possibilities because of the road Jesus traveled.