Posted September 16, 2013
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.
This is week 3 of 3 as we finish memorizing the Beatitudes together from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This verse continues the thought stemming from verse 10 which said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness...” Sinclair Ferguson said, “The climax to the Beatitudes almost seems to be an anti-climax.” We expect roses at the end, not thorns. Jesus declares that not only will persecution come, but others will revile (criticize angrily) them and speak all kinds of evil against them. Note that it’s not on their own account, but on account of Christ and following Him. There’s a big distinction between being persecuted for acting like an idiot and being persecuted for being Christ-like! In the midst of this persecution, the true Christian should continue to be a peacemaker, full of mercy and humility, and even joy! Jesus called His disciples to rejoice and be glad... Why? For great is your reward in heaven.
We’ll finish our time in the Beatitudes with John Stott’s description of the “blessed” life:
“The beatitudes paint a comprehensive portrait of a Christian disciple. We see him first alone on his knees before God, acknowledging his spiritual poverty and mourning over it. This makes him meek or gentle in all his relationships, since honesty compels him to allow others to think of him what before God he confesses to be. Yet he is far from acquiescing in his sinfulness, for he hungers and thirsts after righteousness, longing to grow in grace and in goodness.
We see him next with others, out in the human community. His relationship with God does not cause him to withdraw from society, nor is he insulated from the world’s pain. On the contrary, he is in the thick of it, showing mercy to those battered by adversity and sin. He is transparently sincere in all his dealings and seeks to play a constructive role as a peacemaker. Yet he is not thanked for his efforts, but rather opposed, slandered, insulted, and persecuted on account of the righteousness for which he stands and the Christ with whom he is identified.
Such is the man or woman who is ‘blessed’, that is, who has the approval of God and finds self-fulfillment as a human being.”
May we, by God’s empowering grace, be this sort of people!
Song - The D. Whitfield Ensemble (feat. Emery Clark)
Artwork - Jonathan Lindsey