a) The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
11 Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 10:22; Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 4:14; Hebrews 11:33-38; James 5:10)
The Lord repeats the blessing of his rejected messengers. For the spirit of the world hates God and those who are born of His Spirit. The sons of this world test the sons of the Most Holy as Satan had tested Christ and His apostles. The Lord tells them clearly, in advance, of what will happen to them. They may be “persecuted,” pursued, run down, abandoned as the “dregs of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:13), fined, imprisoned, banished, stripped of their estates, excluded from places of profit and trust, scourged, sometimes delivered to death and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. This has been the effect of the enmity of the serpent’s seed against the holy seed, ever since the time of righteous Abel. It was so in Old Testament times. Christ has told us that it would much more be so with the active believers in His church, and we are not to think it strange (1 John 3:13). He has left us an example.
In the bitter hour of suffering, when you lose your house or your job due to persecution, the Son of God encourages you to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. The sufferings of the present age are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you and in other faithful believers. So why should you mourn? Rejoice, exult and be thankful, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
God will provide for those who suffer for His sake. Even those that loose their life shall not lose Him in the end. Life in heaven with Jesus, at last, will be an abundant recompense for all the difficulties we meet in our days.
The prophets were persecuted and abused like you. Can you expect to go to heaven any differently? Was not Isaiah mocked for his teachings and Elisha for his bald head? Therefore don’t marvel as if it is a strange event, and don’t murmur because it is a difficult thing. It is a comfort to see the way of suffering as a road traveled by many and as an honor to follow such leaders in faith. That grace which was sufficient for them, to carry them through their sufferings, shall not be less available to you. Those who are your enemies are the seed and successors of them who of old mocked the messengers of the Lord.
Therefore, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” It is not enough to be patient and content under these persecutions as under common afflictions and not to render railing for railing. You should rejoice, because the honor and dignity, the pleasure and advantage, of suffering for Christ, are much greater than the pain or shame of it. Not that we may take a pride in our sufferings (that would spoil all), but we should take a pleasure in them, as Paul (2 Corinthians 12:10), knowing that Christ remains with us, and that he will not forsake us.
PRAYER: We thank You, Heavenly Father, for accepting us as Your sons by grace. Forgive us our fear, stubbornness and our clinging to earthly values. Teach us the mercy, patience and purity of Christ. Give us power and courage to confess the gospel of Your peace. Keep us when we are rejected by our friends and our family that we might bless those who hate us, love those who beat us and pray for those who persecute us. Make us firm in joy and gladness for You are with us, centered in us. Please comfort those who suffer today for Your holy name.
QUESTION 51: What are the wages paid to persecuted believers?