11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12, NIV)
No one likes being insulted. No one likes having false accusations made against them. And no one likes being portrayed as evil. Yet these are all things we are to expect when following Jesus Christ. Having these things done to us should not come as a surprise, yet it often does. Too often, we focus on the first word of verse 11, “Blessed” and think it means that if we live a life for Christ, we will have an easy life. But that is not what Jesus is saying.
Jesus expanding upon the beatitude we last studied. Here, He uses the prophets as an example. Think of the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Jonah, Daniel, John the Baptist. Their writings take up about a quarter – 25 percent – of the Bible. Yet, for most of them, we know relatively little about who they were as a person. We do, however, know that they were often not listened to. We know that several were imprisoned for speaking the word of God. And at least a few were martyred.
In comparing those to whom He was teaching to the prophets, Jesus was giving warning that following Him, following His teachings, and spreading His word to others, was not going to be a life of ease. Following Jesus requires a person to change their life. A follower of Jesus can no longer indulge in the selfish desires that the world promotes. As the Beatitudes show, following Jesus requires a change in thinking and a change in living.
Also noted in all the Beatitudes, is that these changes come with blessings, God’s blessing. We are blessed by God for living our life in a way that pleased Him. However, it is not the earthly blessing of which we often think. Our blessing comes from knowing God. We are blessed because we can turn to Him at any time. We can take shelter and comfort from the world in His presence. God gives us peace and strength to persevere on earth. And, one day, we will receive our reward of standing before the Lord God and celebrating His power and majesty with all other believers.
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