Matthew 5:10-12 says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness? sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Mt 5:10-12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson).
This week we are seeing that there is a blessing that is given to the persecuted. It is a double portion and it is for righteousness sake. Today we are going to see the reality that the persecuted need in persecution.
Persecution is inevitable as verses 10-11 indicate. Verse 10 says in the middle of the verse: "...those who are persecuted." And verse 11, "...when they revile and persecute you." James 1:2 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials." Persecution and trials are inevitable for the believer. They are as common as the temptations we face. Therefore, we should expect them and not be surprised by them.
Verse 12 of Matthew 5 says that since they persecuted the "prophets who were before you," they will persecute you. Jesus takes it a step further in John 15:18-21 by stating that since He was persecuted so will all those who follow Him. He says, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name"s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me" (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Jn 15:18-22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson).
Persecution in the believer"s life is inevitable and it is promised. They persecuted the prophets and they persecuted Jesus. Jesus even warned His disciples in John 16:2-3 when He said, "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God"s service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me" (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Jn 16:2-3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson).
Expecting that persecution will come as a result of following Jesus is one way we can be prepared for suffering. Another way that we can be prepared is to know what the Scriptures teach about persecution and suffering.
Paul said to Timothy, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Tim.3:12). To the Philippians, he wrote, "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me" (Phil. 1:29-30).
The reality that the persecuted need is the knowledge of knowing that persecution is inevitable for the believer and it is promised. As you reflect on God"s Word today, ask the Holy Spirit to engraft into your heart the truths you heard today and to see persecution as a part of your faith.