Monthly Archives: November 2015

Personalizing Persecution.

In Matthew 5:11, there is a shift from third person to second person. Jesus moves from talking about people in general (those) to His disciples in particular (you). I believe Jesus is making a specific, personal application of the eighth beatitude (vs. 10), not stating a final beatitude (contra Osborne, Matthew, kindle loc. 3386). He is not introducing a new beatitude; He is applying the eighth and final beatitude to the disciples in a personal way. 
Carson noted the expansion of the eighth beatitude in verse 11 in regards to persecution, righteousness, and response to persecution. First, persecution involves verbal as well as physical attack. People experience persecution when they are verbally attacked for their faith. Second, righteousness is connected to imitation of Christ. Verse 10 talks about persecution for righteousness’ sake, whereas verse 12 talks about persecution for Christ’s sake. “This confirms that the righteousness of life that is in view is in imitation of Jesus” Carson, The Sermon on the Mount, 28). Third, the response to suffering is joy. They can be full of joy because they have a great reward in heaven.
These verses are especially comforting in our day. It is not popular or politically correct to be a Christian and affirm biblical truths. It is likely those who love Jesus and are outspoken about their beliefs will be verbally ridiculed. If we love Jesus, seek to follow Him, and face persecution, let’s not falter. Rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.

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Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake.

The final beatitude deals with persecution. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 10). Jesus’ statement makes it clear some will be persecuted for their faith. This truth undermines any “gospel” that denies personal difficulty or hardship. Jesus made it abundantly clear some beliebers would experience verbal and even physical abuse because of their righteousness (which is based on Christ’s righteousness). Christians who are committed to Christ should not be surprised when they face persecution or opposition.
One word of caution is in order. Christians should make sure they are persecuted “for righteousness’ sake.” D. A. Carson quipped:

This final beatitude does not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are objectionable, or because they rave like wild-eyes fanatics, or because they pursue some religio-political cause.” The blessing is restricted to those who suffer persecution because of righteousness (cf. 1 Peter 3:13f.; 4:12-16). The believers described in this passage are those determined to live as Jesus lived (Carson, The Sermon on the Mount, 27).

So, if you are facing persecution or difficulty, make sure it is for “righteousness’ sake” and not because you are being a jerk or are taking a hard stand on a non-biblical issue.
The reward is the kingdom of heaven. Carson asked, 

“If the disciple of Jesus never experienced any persecution at all, it may fairly be asked where righteousness is being displayed in his life. If there is no righteousness, no conformity to God’s will, how shall he enter the kingdom?”

So, are you being persecuted? If not, is it because you are not displaying righteousness? Every Christian should strive, not for persecution, but righteousness. If persecution comes, so be it. Let’s practice righteousness and enter the kingdom.