Disciples - Encouraging short sermons and devotionals compiled by The Commandment Co
Acts 13:52 is a very puzzling verse!
It comes right after we learn that Paul and Barnabas were being persecuted for preaching and teaching in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (modern-day Turkey). The Jewish leaders, jealous of all the attention that Paul and Barnabas were receiving, “stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” (Acts 13:45). Paul and Barnabas had been essentially ridiculed, slandered, and thrown out of the synagogue – yet despite all this, we learn that were “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52) as they continued their journey and went to preach in another town.
How puzzling – why did their persecution bring them joy? Shouldn’t it have made them discouraged instead?
Acts 5:41 sheds some light on the puzzling response of Paul and Barnabas - “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
Just as Jesus was mocked, disgraced and crucified for the message He brought to the world, the disciples were not expecting to be treated any differently. Their teachings and the way they lived their lives were countercultural – it was no surprise that they would be persecuted for advocating for a new order of things.
To be like Jesus means to stand opposed to the powers at war against the Kingdom of Heaven. And those dark powers have influence over culture. The same is true today, and we can expect to face persecution for siding with Christ and being countercultural.
Yet Acts 13:52 shows us that such persecution should not steal our joy, but in fact, add to it! We know that we do not suffer for no good reason – if we share in Jesus’s glory, we should be glad to share in His suffering as well.
May the story of the disciples inspire us when we face rejection, betrayal, criticism or persecution because of the faith we profess. Be assured that in these moments, we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us the same puzzling joy that the disciples were filled with thousands of years ago!
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March 29, 2023 — TCCO (Troubleshooting)