Ac 5:41 “Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer…”
The spiritual perspective in suffering for Jesus produces joy-giving, enduring results.
Despite the bloody beating and berating the apostles received at the hands of the Sanhedrin, they left the council rejoicing. Here again is the theme of joy that is supernaturally evident with its distinctive resilience throughout the Book of Acts as well as later by this same Peter in his epistle:
1 Pe. 4:13-14 “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”
This joy is first manifested in testimony. What made their witness irresistible was not only the position of “we ought to obey God rather than men,” but also their disposition free of bitterness and defensiveness. The very attacks that were meant to silence the apostles were what gave their message a perceived moral authority that could not be neutralized or marginalized. The problem with the church’s testimony today is not the result of an increase in persecution from the world but a decrease in joy within the hearts of those testifying.
Not only was this soul-level “smile” revealed in their testimony but also in their tenacity. This entire chapter reveals a group of men who would not allow hypocrisy, prison, or beatings to hinder their ministry. Earlier in this chapter, the out-of-this dark-world source of their insistent joy is revealed-the Holy Spirit.
Acts 5:32 “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
Joy is a portion of the fruit of the Spirit. When the believer is witnessing in the Spirit, even persecution that inconveniences or injures the flesh cannot compromise it. The convicting takeaway is that anything less than joy in suffering for Jesus exposes a ministry that is defined by the flesh instead of the Holy Ghost. The glorious end of tenacious joy, in suffering, is that it keeps the focus squarely and exclusively upon “His name” (Ac. 5:41b)…that is the name of Jesus who also suffered with mind-boggling joy.
He 12:2-3 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”