We have spent a pretty good amount of time on the Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew. We have watched Jesus as He went through this list, and this week we observe His conclusion with a tremendous verse. This can be observed as the culmination, and it is extremely precise. We must remember that last week’s verse spoke about being persecuted on account of righteousness sake, but here, with absolute precision, Jesus now says that we are blessed when we are persecuted on account of Himself. We read in Matthew 5:11 and 12: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In order to fully understand this verse let’s do a quick recap of the previous Beatitudes (if that’s even possible.) The ones who God blesses are poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the ones that are persecuted for righteousness sake. As a result of this Divine blessing they receive the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, the earth, their hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, mercy, they shall see God, they shall be called sons of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven. Here in this verse we have a culmination. If we are excluded and reviled for the sake of Christ, persecuted for His sake, or even people just plain accuse us of evil things falsely on account of Him we are blessed and our reward is great in heaven.
That’s all fine and dandy, but I think there is an even bigger note here in this verse. Jesus in the previous Beatitudes only spoke generally. He said things like “poor in spirit,” “those,” “peacemakers,” etc., but here he switches to second person. Why is this important? Because He uses the word “you.” He makes it personal. It is now between His believers and Him, and there are no outside influences.
Christianity is not simply a religion in the sea of other religions. It is personal. It is the story of a God that loves His creation, and set law for us to ensure we don’t hurt each other unnecessarily. It’s a story of God’s judgment on man who failed to follow His law and did evil things in the process. It’s a story of God’s redemptive plan throughout several thousand years of human history. It’s a story that darkness does not like, but can’t escape or overpower.
It seems that almost daily we hear another news report of a police officer that has fallen in the line of duty. They have left this world prematurely and we mourn the passage of a hero into the next realm. I want to urge you to make it personal with Jesus Christ. If you have already done so, I want to urge you to follow Him. If this means that you will be excluded, persecuted, taunted, or even killed it is not the end of the story. After all, there are things that are worse than death. It’s not final for those in Christ anyway.
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Matthew 5:12 – “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”