Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blessed are the Persecuted

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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 5:10-12
What does it mean to be persecuted?  What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?  Here’s what Dietrich Bonhoeffer has to say about it:

In Bonhoeffer’s classic work The Cost of Discipleship he begins his concluding thoughts on the beatitudes with the following words,
Having reached the end of the beatitudes, we naturally ask if there is any place of this earth for the community which they describe. Clearly, there is one place, and only one, and that is where the poorest, meekest, and most sorely tried of all men is to be found – on the cross at Golgotha. The fellowship of the beatitudes is the fellowship of the Crucified. With him it has lost all, and with him it has found all. From the cross there comes the call ‘blessed, blessed.’” (113-114).

So, we are called to be ON the cross with Jesus…not standing nearby, but ON that cross.  That is what true discipleship really is.  We are promised JOY as well…an inner joy that is not destroyed by external circumstances.  What is the cross in your life?  Do you experience the joy of God as you life out your life on this cross? 

This final verse completes the Beatitudes.  Below is the complete text.  Notice that in both the first and the last Beatitude, the promise for us is the same, the Kingdom of Heaven.  What a glorious day that will be!

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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.