The Gospel of Matthew: Blessed when Reviled and Persecuted.  

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 5:11–12 ESV)

The final Beatitude that Jesus spoke was specifically directed to His disciples; then and now. Rather than generic principles for all, today’s text is pointedly applicable to those who follow Jesus in this fallen world.

“Just as Jesus experienced opposition and persecution, his disciples can expect the same. Their reward may not come on earth, but it surely will be theirs in heaven. Throughout history, beginning with Cain’s murder of Abel (Gen. 4:8; cf. 1 John 3:12), there have been those who oppose God’s people,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.  

To revile (ὀνειδίζω; oneidizo) is to be insulted for Christ. To persecute (διώκω; dioko) means to encounter harassment because of faith in Christ. The phrase utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account refers to when people say wicked and evil lies about you as a believer in Christ.

Why would, and should, a believer in Christ find joy in such circumstances? It is because of the accompanying promise. Jesus provided the basis for the believer’s encouragement in the midst of the storms of spiritual persecution. He said, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

“The suffering that is blessed here is suffering for righteousness’ sake—being persecuted for doing the will of our Master. To embrace the promise of this beatitude, the persecution must be for doing His righteous will (1 Peter 3:8–17),” explains commentator Michael Glodo.

“When we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake and wonder if it is worth it, we can remain resolute that the kingdom of heaven is ours. Second, it is a source of joy because in it we are identified with our Lord (Matt. 10:25Acts 5:41). Third, it is a signpost guiding us along the path of Jesus. The way of the cross is not an elective in the school of Christ (Matt. 10:24–25). There is no other path to life except the cruciform way. Fourth, it invites us to take inventory when we aren’t experiencing persecution. All who live a godly life will be persecuted (2 Tim. 2:12). We are to be wary of ourselves when the world has only good to say about us (Luke 6:26). Absence of persecution may be because we are fitting in too well with the world. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, it may mean that we have exchanged discipleship for citizenship,” concludes Glodo.  

Soli deo Gloria!

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