By Chaplain Val
As a community, we have been perusing the Beatitudes throughout this year, also known as the Sermon on the Mount. This month we will look at Matthew 5:11:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
I find this passage disconcerting. I certainly don’t feel blessed when people persecute me with their actions and words! In fact, it causes me to become defensive and lose sight of how Jesus has directed me to live.
In order to understand the blessing in persecution, we need to go back to the first beatitude. If we are poor in spirit, we will admit our sinful and broken nature and will mourn (v. 4) over it. Once we do this, we are blessed with the meekness (v.5), righteousness (v.6), mercy (v.7), purity of heart (v.8) and peacemaking (v.9), the character of Jesus Christ, our example of how to live.
As we live out these beatitudes, we will understand that persecution is not because of us, rather it is because, as sinners, you and I and the world naturally hate Jesus Christ. However, God loved us so much and wanted to spare us his wrath that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ to be persecuted on our behalf. Praise God he sent Jesus because you and I could not endure God’s wrath!
The least you and I can do is live out the beatitudes and endure persecution with joy! For, in the end, our reward, like that of the prophets and saints who went before us and endured persecution for the sake of Christ, is rejoicing and singing praises in the presence of Jesus Christ and God the Father Almighty!
What a glorious reward we as believers have to look forward to! Hear these words from Revelation 22:1- 5:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
I encourage you to hold fast to living out the Beatitudes. Keep your eyes fixed on your reward, eternal life in the presence of Jesus Christ!