Matthew 5:11-12 and Persecution of Christians

PrinceOfPeaceIf you have been following the Daily Bible Reading Schedule, you will know that we finished the Old Testament over the weekend and began the New Testament once again. (For those of you who do not know what this means, follow the link above.)

In Matthew’s Gospel, we have Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Right at the beginning of the sermon, Jesus gives several Blessed statements. Almost all of them are from different places in the Old Testament, but Jesus brings them all together here. One that is new, though, is this one:

11 ‘Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Notice here that Jesus says we are blessed when we are persecuted or ridiculed for his sake. This is a big distinction. We are not blessed when we are reviled because we did something bad or wrong. We are not blessed when we are persecuted because of our own wants and desires. We are blessed when we are persecuted because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has called us to do and who he has called us to be.

This is also one of those points in the text where Jesus equates himself with God. The prophets were persecuted because of their commitment to God and to God’s truth. We are persecuted because of our commitment to Jesus and to Jesus’ truth. Never let anyone fool you into thinking Jesus never made any claims to being God. This is one of them.