Rejoicing in Suffering

Peter proclaimed he was ready to die for Jesus during their last Passover celebration. The other disciples followed suit and confessed their allegiance unto death (Matthew 26:35). A little while later, in the Garden, Peter proved his loyal commitment when the guards came to arrest Jesus. He wielded his sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:11). He meant it when he said he was ready to die for Jesus.

Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, picked up the ear, and placed it back on the man’s head (Luke 22:51). Miracle moments. The crowd did not retaliate against Peter, and Jesus restored the man’s ear. Then Jesus submitted Himself to the crowd, and the disciples scattered. They were willing to die for Jesus, but they were not willing to suffer.

In the Book of Acts, Peter and John were arrested for healing a lame man and preaching in Jesus’s name. When the council could not find fault or deny the miracle, they had to let them go with a stern warning to stop preaching in Jesus’s name. Peter and John confirmed they would obey God and not man (Acts 4).

The next chapter finds the apostles teaching with many signs and wonders in Solomon’s Porch in the temple area (Acts 5:12). The high priest and his sect, the Sadducees, were indignant and arrested them a second time (Acts 5:17, 18). After some back and forth with the council and the council’s deliberation, Peter and the apostles were beaten and again commanded not to speak in Jesus’s name, and they were released. When they were sent out this time, they left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

What had changed? In the Garden, the disciples fled, willing to die but not to suffer. These events occurred after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension to the Father and after the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on men and women alike. Jesus bore their sins on the Cross and made way for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to come and indwell all who call upon Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The apostles understood failing Jesus and His great love for them. The very Spirit of God indwelt them. How could they not proclaim His goodness to all who would listen. What changed was the salvation they knew through Jesus’s death and resurrection. They were not only prepared to suffer for Jesus; they rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41).

Having an authentic experience with Jesus will change any person’s willingness to be counted with Him and accept whatever consequences might come because the freedom He died to grant us makes all the rest worth it. It is an honor and privilege to soar and to suffer for Jesus’s name.

May you know the depth of the powerful exchange of your suffering for His peace (Isaiah 53:4-5).

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