Last Sunday, my pastor gave a message on Acts 16, in which Paul and Silas were worshiping in prison.
That’s a pretty remarkable thing to do when you think about it. Most people would be throwing a pity party.
“God, here I am serving you, and what do I get for it? I get beaten and I get thrown in prison.”
That would be the natural reaction.
How could Paul and Silas rejoice? Perhaps because of what Jesus had told the apostles after his resurrection. (Paul and Silas weren’t there, but they had no doubt been told about Jesus’s words.)
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (18-20)
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”
No doubt, as the disciples reflected on those words, they remembered Daniel 7:13-14.
I continued watching in the night visions,
and suddenly one like a son of man
was coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.
He was given dominion,
and glory, and a kingdom;
so that those of every people,
nation, and language
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
In interpreting the vision, an angel then told Daniel,
But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)
Why could Paul and Silas rejoice? Because they remembered two things.
First, the Father had given Jesus all authority. He had given Jesus a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
Second, we will receive that kingdom too and possess it forever.
How often do we reflect on that?
How good is God to us to make us a part of Jesus’ kingdom, a kingdom that will never end!
That’s why Paul and Silas didn’t focus on their troubles. Instead they rejoiced in God’s goodness toward them. And because of that, they continued to look at what God was doing around them, and made disciples, even of their jailer.
But there was one other thing they remembered. Jesus had said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We saw at the beginning of the book of Matthew that Jesus was called “Immanuel.” Here we see it again.
And that’s why Paul could write in another place,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice…The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5)
So whatever trial you’re facing now, rejoice! All authority has been given to Jesus. He has been given a kingdom and we are a part of it. So let us do as Jesus said, joining in his work and making disciples of all nations.