Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV) "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:10-12 (TM) "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. (11) "Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (12) You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!--for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom. The progress from one beatitude to the next is obvious here. Being a peacemaker by practicing justice and love and living by kingdom standards is initiating a confrontation with society which can be taken as a judgment. To will God's will is to be different from those who will their own will. This is the way of the Cross in which God's will cuts across the will of humanity. The kingdom is breaking into time, calling persons to be disciples of Christ, living by His mercy and love. The response of humanity is either repentance and faith, or rejection and persecution. The King Himself came as the "suffering servant," as one who identified with humanity in its problems without altering His own relation with the Father, thereby calling us to the kingdom of the Father. This confrontation led to the Cross, a fact which led Paul to say, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2Ti_3:12, KJV).
Meaning of Word ‘Persecuted’:
To be pursued, follow after, suffer, chase after, to run after with hostile intent, to hunt. Persecution and all the variations of this word are used in the bible approx. 76 times. The word has a strong meaning of being followed or chased after. It is like a continuous, ruthless chase to hunt down the prey!
Bible Verses about Approach to Persecution:
1 Peter 3:13-14 – “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.”
1 Peter 4:12-14,16,19 – “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name….So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
Phil 3:10-11 – “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Beatitudes: Great Paradox:
This last beatitude is the most striking and contradictory of all the beatitudes. For how can you rejoice or be blessed, when you are going through insult, persecution, suffering, even death for doing good or right? Yet, Jesus very clearly proclaims ‘blessedness’ for those who are being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. He also mentions similar message in Matthew 10:16-28.
For the first century Christians, persecution was a norm rather than an exception.
Peter and Paul, the first apostles to Jews and gentiles, also reiterate and often desire for sharing and participating in suffering with/for Christ. (check out bible references above)
It should be noted that it is not in the suffering or pain, we rejoice, but it is in the hope of God’s glory to be revealed.
We, Christians however, rejoice in their suffering for the righteousness, due to the fact that we participate in suffering of Christ, that we bear his name, and that we will be overjoyed when Christ’ glory will be revealed in us. It is our privilege to suffer with Christ.
It is not the suffering, but the Cause that makes a Martyr.
People may say that this is absolutely absurd. yet, we all believe in a idea of pain and suffering for future joy. A good example of this is a ‘child-birth’. Mother goes through immense pain and struggle, with pain intensifies as the time comes nearer. For her, the present pain is not worth comparing with the joy she will experience in her child. Nobody finds it strange, in fact, women long and desire motherhood. Her focus is not on the suffering, but the joy that her child will bring.
We find it difficult to grasp rejoicing in suffering because we have not seen the complete picture. Even among many Christians, there is a growing tendency to focus on earthly blessings. (It is not to say that one should not desire good in this life.) But Jesus (and first disciples) always focused on future hope and glory.
There are parts of the world, where people are being persecuted for Christ. For them, following Christ means suffering, rejection and even death. They are blessed or privileged to share in suffering with Christ.
We may not go through physical persecution or suffering, but we all feel being constantly chased after by the enemy of Christ. When we pursue righteousness, we may find being constantly running or fleeing from the spiritual forces, who are after us to knock us down.
The Promise: Blessed Hope:
However, this is not the end. Jesus offers those who are persecuted for his name, the inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven. At present, we don’t see it, yet we believe in it and we rejoice in that hope and future. (Romans 8:24) Paul rightly say that our present sufferings are not even worth comparing with the glory that will be manifested when Christ will return.
"Lord, I pray for the persecuted church all across this world. There are christians today who are suffering because of their choice to follow You. Would you miraculously set them free if they are in jail. Would you encourage them and give them peace. May each of us begin to daily callout to You for the persecuted church across the globe. Also, those reading this blog today, who are being revivled at work or school, maybe even in their family because they are a christian, would you bless and strengthen them today. In Jesus' name, amen!"