Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
These verses make up the tail end of the passage popularly known as the “Beatitudes” of Matthew chapter 5. What I find interesting is what Jesus promises – and what he does not promise. First, let’s remember to whom Jesus is speaking by looking at the end of chapter 4:
24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them.
These were not the beautiful people in positions of authority. They were sick, diseased, and even suffering from demonic oppression – shunned in normal society. Jesus repeatedly called them “blessed”, not because they received healing (which they did), but because they were loved by God the Father.
In fact, Jesus said they could expect their faith in Jesus to bring them persecution, not the “good life” many people seek in our day. A gospel of prosperity that promises material wealth, freedom from hardship, and overall well-being for Jesus followers is not the gospel Jesus proclaimed himself.
Lord, help those of us who preach your word to do so faithfully – even when your words challenge our materialistic desires and pursuits. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.