“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV)
How are you? Before I get to today’s passage, I would like to kind of ponder the scene during the Sermon on the Mount for a bit and the words relayed to us by Matthew, especially during the beginning. What do you imagine the Sermon on the Mount looking like?
Obviously we weren’t there and don’t really know the look and feel of the Sermon on the Mount. However, I kind of imagine that Jesus was sitting on a rock or outcropping of some sort. His closest friends and followers were sitting next to Him. These closest friends and followers probably came to the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus. Then, a crowd of people from the general public probably sat out from there. People in the crowd were probably made up of various groups of people. Some may have heard about Jesus and wanted to hear Him speak. Others may have been there in hopes of being healed. Others may have been there to “spy” in order to go back to the Pharisees and gossip about what Jesus said. We don’t know.
Yet, when Jesus spoke the words in Matthew 5:3-10, I believe He was probably speaking rather loudly, so the crowd could hear Him. (I don’t think they had a public announcement system back in the day, especially one that could be used on a mountain. I do wonder if Jesus was speaking through a horn or something to help His voice carry or if supernaturally He made it so everyone could hear Him.)
Although, when Jesus got to the words in Matthew 5:11-12, I can sort of imagine Him leaning in with a tender loving look on His face and telling his closest followers, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (KJV) Or, maybe He was speaking to the whole crowd, but wanted to reinforce the fact that they would be persecuted if they followed Him, yet they are in good company because the prophets were persecuted. They weren’t alone. Maybe Jesus wanted to reinforce the fact that they will be rewarded in heaven for following Him.
When I think of verses such as Matthew 5:11-12, I think of the persecution of the early church and people like Saul who were persecuting the Christians as we read about in Acts 8:3 (KJV), “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” I can’t imagine being persecuted in that way or to the point of death. Can you imagine someone coming into your home and forcing you to jail, not because you did something wrong, but because of your belief in God and in Jesus being the Son of God, the Christ and your Savior?
I look at the strength of those who have gone before us who did in fact endure all kinds of evil and persecution for following Jesus, even to the point of death, but didn’t sway in their belief. I pray that I can have that sort of endurance, faith, and belief, under any level of evil and persecution.
The most difficult part of this passage for us to understand and live out may be the beginning of Matthew 5:12 (KJV), “Rejoice: and be exceeding glad…”. We, as humans, don’t usually enjoy or feel glad about being persecuted. We don’t enjoy being picked on, abused, talked about, put down, shunned, ignored, or neglected for any reason. We don’t like being hurt in anyway. This way of thinking doesn’t come naturally to the human way of doing things.
So, how and why can we think about rejoicing when we are persecuted as followers of Jesus? Well, I would say the first reason why to do it, would be because our Lord and Savior told us to do it. Trusting in God and praying for help in being able to rejoice will be the answer in how we can do it.
I noticed that in Matthew 5:12, the prophets are mentioned, whereas they are not mentioned in Matthew 5:10 in almost the same sentiment. Is it because Jesus wanted to relate this important sentiment in a way that they would understand and in the way that would mean something special in the eyes of His very human followers. I can imagine that the Jewish people of the New Testament read the Old Testament and admired the words of the prophets and the fact that they saw those words coming true throughout their history. I can imagine they may have grouped the prophets in a group of godly people. Jesus may be using this thought to show that those who are persecuted for following Him, will join the prophets in the group of godly people. They will be in the heavenly group and not the worldly group. Even more importantly, we will be in God’s family.
It is definitely a joyful thought and worth rejoicing in knowing that you are part of God’s family and will be greatly rewarded. God’s Word has many verses encouraging us and reminding us that no matter what sort of hardship, hurt, persecution, and even death we may go through in our earthly lives, it doesn’t compare to the reward we will get in heaven as His followers. (This is one of the reasons we read the Bible, so we can know these verses and remember them in time of need.)
Thank you for your Word and your encouragement. Thank you for sending Jesus to us to teach us and to show us the way to you. Help us to stay strong throughout all the evil, hardship, and persecution we endure especially in following your Son, Jesus. Help us to follow His example, and endure no matter what, so that we can join you in heaven as well. I ask you this in His Holy name, Amen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reflective questions for Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV):
*What does Matthew 5:11-12 mean to me?
*What is the difference between these verses and Matthew 5:10?
*What was it like for the prophets and people in biblical times to be
persecuted for righteousness’ sake?
*Was I persecuted for righteousness’ sake?
*If I was persecuted, when and how? How did it feel? How did I deal with
*Does it help to know that the prophets were also persecuted?
*Do I rejoice during times of persecution?
*What can I do to better live according to the words in Matthew 5:11-12?
If you enjoy this post, you may want to read the posts in The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations.
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 1
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 2
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 3
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 4
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 5
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 6
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 7
*The Beatitudes Series by DUO Inspirations - Part 8
Now, it is your turn.
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This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.