January 28

Text: Matthew 5:10-12

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Ē (NASB)

Righteousness and persecution would be kindred spirits in their age.  Remember Jesus spoke to a first century Jewish audience.  They should understand an evil world would not tolerate Godís righteousness.   The unrighteous world never had!  Thinking the Messianic Age would usher in such toleration was a deception!  Had not even Godís Jewish prophets been persecuted?  Even Moses knew and experienced rejection!  The blessing was not in escaping persecution, but in enduring persecution.

Jesus was not speaking of token persecution, but of insults, unjust accusations, and suffering.  The reaction to such experiences should be the opposite of anticipated reactions.  When such opposition occurred, they should rejoice and be glad.  Why?  They were being righteous by Godís definition!  Not even Israel would tolerate Godís righteousness.  It was not a ďthemĒ (gentiles) and ďusĒ (Jews) thing!  The opposition would come from Israelites who had a different definition of righteousness!

Note there were some qualifications for persecution becoming a blessing.  (1) It occurred because the person was being righteous (by Godís definition).  (2) Any accusation of Jesusí followers being evil was false.  (3) It occurred because of devotion to Jesus. Then would their reward in heaven be great.

This was NOT an invited, contrived opposition.  It was a rejection of devotion to Godís righteousness.

Suggestion for reflection: The godly personís focus is not on escaping persecution but on enduring persecution.  The objective: exalting God through Jesus, not escaping pain.  (Read Ephesians 6:10-17.)

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