Jesus continues this portion of Matthew called the Beatitudes. Continuing to speak on persecution. Here’s what He says:
Matthew 5:11-12 says this, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The main reaso for Christian “persecution” is, of course, Jesus Christ. Merely being harassed or treated unfairly isn’t necessarily persecution. What Jesus means is that one proof of being “blessed” is willingness to endure unfair treatment on account of faithfully following Him. Those in opposition to Jesus might insult His followers, abuse them, and falsely accuse them of doing terrible things.
At the time Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount, this hasn’t yet happened to those who follow Him. However, this blessing serves as an early warning that such abuse is coming.
Jesus explains in verse 12 why willingness to be connected to Him despite being treated badly is a blessing. Those who do so will receive great rewards in heaven. Jesus does not hold this out as a consolation prize for a difficult life. He tells His disciples to rejoice and be glad about the opportunity to be treated awfully for His sake. The rewards waiting in heaven because of this honor makes the experience itself a victory worth celebrating.
This is an interesting time and an interesting set of verses. Jesus is predicting for his followers hard times ahead. Makes me wonder if those guys on the shores of the sea of Galilee would be so quick to drop their nets and follow him. I believe they still would but this statement must have got them looking back and forth at each other with questioning looks….what does he mean, we’ll be persecuted because of Him?
Persecution, being treated badly for Jesus’ name is still happening today. Studies have shown that over 100,000 Christian each year die for their faith.
That’s what makes this sermon as relevant today as it was all of those years ago.
Serious food for thought here….we live, we believe, we follow….knowing the consequences….