“What a day of rejoicing that will be!”
That’s a line from the old hymn “When We All Get to Heaven.” The entire song is about waiting and hoping for the day we all see Jesus together. We’ll shout for joy that day. Until then, the promise of our future rejoicing is a prize worthy for remaining “true and faithful” now.
So, we commit ourselves to the way of God.
Now, we’ve said before Jesus does not seem to preoccupy himself with getting people to heaven. He preaches the reality of God’s kingdom here and now before us. He teaches us to pray for heaven’s reality to be here and now. No doubt Jesus believes there’s rejoicing in heaven. Remember what he said about the angels when a sinner repents?
Jesus, then, is heavenly minded, but not always in the way we tend to be. Most of us think merely of a heavenly reward for enduring this life. Jesus, though, wants the reality of heaven to impact this life. And not in a be-good-and-you’ll-get-your-reward kind of way.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.” Yes, that’s a blessing, apparently. Jesus then offered the appropriate response for when that happens. “Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.”
On one hand, there is a heavenly reward involved. Prophets of old will rejoice with you side by side because they endured the same things. On the other hand, the rejoicing doesn’t begin in heaven. It starts today. “Rejoice on that day,” Jesus says. That day they reject you. That day they exclude you or defame you.
That day may be today. It may hurt and it may be a shock to your faith. But rejoice! Not because it’s happening to you. God doesn’t delight in our suffering. Rejoice because God’s way still reigns. Rejoice because that day they reject you doesn’t mean God ever has. Rejoice because you know God has not turned away from you.