Blessed Are The Persecuted
By Lee Jones
I thought that getting saved was supposed to make my life better, with more purpose, better parking spots, upgrades to first class, being the head and not the tail. That’s what the guys on TV in the fancy suits told me. They spoke prosperity over me during their shows, or maybe during a “tent revival” and I used my all-powerful free will and self-forged faith to make it real with my faith-filled words. So why would Jesus tell me I am blessed when I am persecuted?
Because everything those people said was a lie. The prosperity “gospel”, more like prosperity heresy, might rule the airwaves right now, but it’s an unbiblical lie. Jesus never promised an easy life for the redeemed, but he did promise never to forsake them (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5).
Later in Matthew, in chapter 10 to be exact, Jesus goes into more detail on the subject of persecution. He describes the disciples as “sheep among wolves” and describes floggings, interrogations, royal inquisitions, and the need to bear witness before them all. Jesus treats these as a certainty and so should we. After all, it’s been the norm for believers ever since the apostolic period (every apostle other than hard-boiled John died in martyrdom).
But why is this a given? “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18). Jesus was certainly persecuted during his earthly ministry, ultimately culminating in the cross, and his triumph over the hatred and sin thrown at him by the religious authorities gives the persecuted hope that they don’t suffer needlessly or helplessly.
We know it’s not hopeless because of the second half of the Beatitude: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This phrase acts as a nice bookend to the first Beatitude. The poor in spirit are promised the kingdom of heaven, and that promise certainly holds true as that person journeys through his or her sin-grief, growing in gentleness & peace & mercy & showing the purity of heart that only YHWH can deliver. Now, when the believer faces difficulty from fellow humanity, it is best to reflect on the promise delivered to us at the beginning of our “pilgrim’s progress.”
Perhaps that is the beauty of the Beatitudes. Even as verse 11 explicates verse 10, insults/persecution/slander all coming our way, Jesus promises great reward in heaven because we’re in good company: with Jesus himself and the saints before us.
Remember the definition of the word “beatitude” is blessedness in a superlative degree. The dark message at the beginning of each beatitude is overcome with the glory at the end. I hope this series of blogs has been helpful and a blessing to each reader. The entire Sermon on the Mount is incredible teaching, but the Beatitudes are a true jewel and worth our attention, as is the rest of the scripture. God’s grace is so great toward us to deliver his word to us, and preserve it. I pray God will bless your study of his inspired word.
Glory to God Alone.