Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
He said: …
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- Matthew 5:1-2, 10-12
Since there are two blessed statements, these may be considered as separate blessings, but I think it is like the end of the Lord’s Prayer in the next chapter of Matthew, where Jesus amplifies something that He just said. In the Lord’s Prayer, He spends a little more time about forgiveness. Here at the end of the Beatitudes, He explains what He meant by persecutions.
I have said in some teaching moments that if we are not being persecuted, we aren’t doing it right. In saying that, I am referring to Matthew 5:11-12. Sure, we are not all called to be martyrs, but have you been spat on? I have. Have people lied about you? I have often been portrayed in a false light and my wife had vicious rumors circulated about her, none even remotely true. I have been struck with physical blows. I have been threatened with job termination, and I am sure that many of the times that I have been passed over for promotion or I got no pay increase could have stemmed from my strong Christian beliefs. At least, I hope so, as I mentioned in a post a few days ago.
Yet, some believers live in countries where Christians are being more severely persecuted. You can go to Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.com (unsolicited, but I receive their e-mails and magazine) or a number of other organizations that follow the reports of persecution and provide aide.
I have been called a hypocrite by family members and church members, but maybe, at times when I glance at something along the road rather than looking at Jesus, that might be justified.
I have been called a heretic. I have remained silent, as to keep the peace, but I have wanted to say that just because you do not get the same message that I get from the same bit of Scripture, it does not make me a heretic. The false prophets called the prophets of God to task for heresy. The false prophets had the king’s ear, and they did not like what the true prophet was saying.
I will not lift up an aside comment in a Sunday school discussion as being a modern prophecy, but I have a big enough God to realize that just about anything is possible, if it is within God’s will. Can we not dream of such possibilities while we are in prayer and Bible Study? What we dream may not be an oracle from God, but if it helps other people to think outside the box that they have placed their small God into, they can learn of a bigger God themselves.
Let us pray for those who are severely persecuted, those who have become martyrs or are facing martyrdom, those who are imprisoned for their Christian beliefs, and those who are severely beaten. Pray for those in hiding for fear of the same things happening to them. But pray for those who are spat upon, for those who are silenced (although we pretend to still have freedom of speech), and for those who have been marked a trouble-maker in the workplace – for nothing they have done, but for Whom they serve.
This completes the Beatitudes. They tell a story of someone who learns that they need God, they find God, and God starts to work in their lives. Yet, there is a problem, in that this fallen world is becoming more corrupt. This fallen world will fight back. But no matter how hard the persecution may be, the kingdom of Heaven shall be ours.
With the inspiration to write a little “Thought on” style message for the “poor in spirit,” I thought that I would continue through the Beatitudes. This concludes the series.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.