“Let us learn, in the second place, that God’s children must not look for their reward in this world.
If ever there was a case of godliness unrewarded in this life, it was that of John the Baptist.
Think for a moment what a man he was during his short career, and then think to what an end he came.
Behold him, that was the Prophet of the Highest, and greater than any born of woman, imprisoned like a malefactor!
Behold him cut off by a violent death, before the age of thirty-four—the burning light quenched—the faithful preacher murdered for doing his duty,—and this to gratify the hatred of an adulterous woman, and at the command of a capricious tyrant!
Truly there was an event here, if there ever was one in the world, which might make an ignorant man say, “What profit is it to serve God?”
But these are the sort of things which show us, that there will one day be a judgment.
The God of the spirits of all flesh shall at last set up an assize, and reward every one according to his works.
The blood of John the Baptist, and James the apostle, and Stephen—the blood of Polycarp, and Huss, and Ridley, and Latimer, shall yet be required.
It is all written in God’s book. “The earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain.” (Isaiah 26:21)
The world shall yet know, that there is a God that judgeth the earth.
“If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter, for he that is higher than the highest regardeth: and there be higher than they.” (Eccles. 5:8)
Let all true Christians remember, that their best things are yet to come.
Let us count it no strange thing, if we have sufferings in this present time. It is a season of probation. We are yet at school.
We are learning patience, longsuffering, gentleness, and meekness, which we could hardly learn if we had our good things now.
But there is an eternal holiday yet to begin.
For this let us wait quietly. It will make amends for all.
‘Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ (2 Cor. 4:17)”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1856/2012), 130. Ryle is commenting on Matthew 14:1-12.