Verses 10 & 11 are best taken together as one Beatitude – the final one. Happy are those who suffer for the sake of righteousness and truth. Again, we must understand how this would have sounded to the Jew sitting there listening to Jesus’ words. They expected to hear Jesus say, “Your suffering is over!” Instead, He said, “Rejoice in your persecution.”
Here, especially, is where the world does not understand Christianity. The world has tried to eliminate Christianity through suffering and persecution. They tried crucifying the apostles. They beheaded some. They dipped some in tar and set them on fire to provide light for their parties. They burned them at the stake. The persecution continues to this day. Just because we live in America and may not hear about it, does not mean that Christians are not murdered for righteousness’ sake.
I was recently told by one of our missionaries to Mali, that one of the national pastors in Mali has had to flee to the US because there is a price on his head. Islamic terrorists want him – dead or alive. We in the US must not be naive. Persecution of Christianity is flourishing throughout the world. Hundreds of Christians have had to flee Northern Mali. Churches are being attacked in Nigeria. Spend some time at www.persecution.com and you will see that persecution is spread all around the world.
But as Christians, we are to rejoice in sufferings and persecutions. What is to be our response to suffering for righteousness’ sake?
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:12)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
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