Re-seeing the Kingdom of God: Those Who Are Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness

As Jesus begins His public ministry, it becomes undeniable that people want to listen to Him. As he begins his Sermon on the Mount, His longest recorded sermon, He starts with a blessing. This first lesson to his followers is what has become known as the Beatitudes. A “beatitude” is a “supreme blessedness”, so who does Jesus call blessed?

As we continue to break down each of Jesus’s blessings, I think it’s important to pause and note what Daily Grace Co. authors mention about the Beatitudes:

“While it is common to hear the Beatitudes pulled apart or studied one at a time, it is wise to read and study them together. Jesus is crafting a sermon where each piece builds on the last. Many commentators have said that the first four beatitudes show the justification we receive from God, and the last four show the sanctification we receive from Him. Justification is when God declares us righteous because Christ’s righteousness covers us through salvation. Sanctification is the ongoing process believers go through over the course of their lives as they walk with God and He conforms them to His image.”

As we become sanctified, or more like God, we become merciful (v. 7) and pure in heart (v. 8). While these impact others as well as ourselves, Jesus’s last two blessings send us out into the world. In verse 9, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, but verse 10 makes it clear that our peace will not always be well-received by the culture around us.

Jesus declares: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, or theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He continues saying that ““Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (v. 11-12).

In the same way Jesus was rejected, persecuted, and killed, we will face troubles because of our commitment to Him. Whether it’s a snub from a colleague or losing a friend because they don’t understand how you could be a Christian in this day and age, we are not guaranteed easy and comfortable living. We will face trouble (John 16:33), but we can rest knowing that we have a Savior who understands because the same things have been done to Him.

No matter what we face, we can have hope because of our Savior. Let us leave reflecting on this truth:

“We are exiles in this current world, awaiting our heavenly home, but Jesus has shown us through the Beatitudes how we can presently live our lives as citizens of His kingdom. Even though we are in the ‘already but not yet,’ we can anticipate the day that all of the redeemed will be reunited with our King, and we will perfectly express and experience the truth of the Beatitudes” (Daily Grace Co.)

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