Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Most Jewish people did not believe that prophets still existed in the Old Testament sense, so Jesus' comparing His followers to the prophets indicated that they would have an extraordinary mission. To suffer for God was commendable (see Psalm 69:7). However, while Judaism highly honored martyrs for following God's laws, no other rabbi had ever called his disciples to die for following his teachings.
We can be comforted to know that God's greatest prophets were persecuted. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Zechariah, and Elijah all faced persecution. Some even were martyred.
Persecution would become a harsh reality for many early Christ followers. When John wrote the Revelation, the Roman government had stepped up its persecution of Christians, causing John to wonder if the church could survive and stand against the opposition. But Jesus appeared in glory and splendor, reassuring John that he and his fellow believers had access to God's strength to face these trials and that tremendous rewards awaited them.
If you are facing difficult problems, remember that the power available to John and the early church is also available to you. In the end, all believers will finally be with God in heaven. All who have been faithful through the ages will sing before God's throne. There will be no more tears for sin, for all sins will have been forgiven; no more tears for suffering, for all suffering will be over; no more tears for death, for all believers will have been resurrected to die no more.
Ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you and embolden you as you live for Jesus Christ. Even in the face of persecution, remain strong and continue to speak for Him.
Because of Jesus,
Because of Jesus,