This week’s sermon in our “A Charge to Keep” series focuses on Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:1-12 to rejoice and be glad. On the surface this seems like an absurd command, particularly since it is given in the context of extremely negative circumstances. Certainly there are things that all of us rejoice over; a wedding, the birth of a child, a promotion at work or a graduation. We understand the concept of rejoicing over good things in our lives, but why would we possibly rejoice and be glad over being persecuted?
I think our struggle stems from our assumption that rejoicing is the result of outside events or stimuli that affect us in a positive way. Good things happen and we rejoice over them. But what happens when the good things go away, or the circumstances of our lives are no longer following the path we set for them? You don’t have to look too hard to see that in general our society is struggling. Terrible things are happening all around us. Our country and way of life is rapidly changing and many of the things we used to take for granted are now uncertain, including a general societal respect for biblical truth and the people who strive to follow it.
So why rejoice? Jesus’ answer is that ultimately our joy does not flow from circumstances, but rather is the natural result of who we are. We rejoice because of our identity in Jesus. As you prepare for Sunday read through the passage and think through the following questions:
What is the nature of our relationship with Jesus? Why are we in relationship with him and why can we be confident in that relationship?
What should our expectations be as followers of Jesus? What is Jesus’s purpose for our lives?
What is the object of our joy? What makes us glad? What are God’s promises to his children?