12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We have discounted the doctrine of heavenly rewards to our great spiritual impoverishment. The separation of Christian philosophy from influence of the heavenly by ideas such as “she’s so heavenly minded that she’s no earthly good” has removed one of our greatest sources of comfort and hope in suffering. It has also isolated believers in this present world, preventing them access to hope for or understanding of the holy environment that God intends.
But Christ affirms the reality of heaven. When we arrive there we may find those who have suffered most for their faith occupying positions of greater glory. In heaven, though, there will be no envy, as we will rejoice and worship the perfect justice of our triune God.
Note that Christ connects the suffering of Christians directly with that of prophets from the Old Testament. This statement is only one of many by which Christ weaves the Old and New Covenants into a seamless garment. Thus, in our study of suffering, we can move between the Old and New Testaments with total confidence that all is God’s Word. What is true for suffering is also true in general. Perhaps Christians would be more comfortable with the Old Testament if they were brought into appreciation of how completely their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, affirmed it as Holy Scripture.