Matthew 5:10-12 – Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessâ€™ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessing in persecution, really?
We have now come to the last of the Beatitudes as it were. The Lord says to His disciples here that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for righteousness sake or for His sake, as the next verse adds. The Lord clarifies that persecution is not restricted to physical opposition. Harsh words, insults, lies, or words of malice spoken because of one’s association with Him are also persecution.
True righteousness is accomplished and done only for Christâ€™s sake. A disciple is merciful, pure, or a peacemaker because of their dependence on Christ, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). A disciple strives to toward righteousness to honor Jesus. Righteousness gains its distinct character only when it is attached and dependent on Jesus.
When we pursue righteousness, we can expect two kinds of responses. We could either be hated because we follow Christ by doing what is right morally, ethically, spiritually or those watching could be drawn to follow Him too, recognizing that righteous actions are accomplished by depending on God (John 3:20-21).
The Lord reminds His disciples to rejoice, to leap for joy, when persecuted, for their reward in heaven will be great. How does that even make sense we wonder? And yet, Jesus could say that with the utmost confidence because He knew for certain that heaven would more than compensate for any suffering we must endure in His service. The Lord wills that His disciples desire the reward of heaven than the reward of the world (Matthew 6:19-20). As His disciples, we are called to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, our prime example of One who Himself fixed His eyes on the joy set before Him, and endured even death on the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
When persecution comes your way, are your eyes fixed on the situation or on Him?
Lord help me keep my eyes fixed on You, especially through times of suffering, I pray.