Journal Entry // March 3, 2023
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)Matthew 5:11–12
As Jesus ends this section of his sermon about the beatitudes, those blessed and approved by God, he makes a transition from talking in general terms about “blessed are those” to “blessed are you”. Why does he end this section moving to the specificity of “you”? Since it is a simple matter in my heart to hear the non-specific and not actually think he is talking about me, Jesus brings this section to a close by reminding me that he is indeed talking about me. And what is it that this personal application is telling me? It is in no uncertain terms telling me that if I am following Christ and living a beatific life, then there will be suffering and persecution in my life. This adversity will not just be esoteric and visited upon others. No, Jesus is telling me that just as people reviled, persecuted, and uttered false evils against him, so too will I receive these same trials on his account. So when they come, what am I to do? I am to rejoice and be glad!
I am to rejoice and be glad that I am counted worthy to suffer as a faithful follower of Christ. My rejoicing is not over the hardship and persecution themselves, but in the fact that my reward is found in heaven and not in this world. I rejoice because I am joining a long line of faithful believers and followers of Jesus throughout the ages. I can read the Bible and easily identify with the trials and struggles of each and every faithful prophet and saint. I can rejoice and be glad in my adversity because I am not alone in my suffering. The Deceiver will come and tell me accusatory lies about the injustice I am suffering or how this trial proves my unworthiness. Jesus has already given me the answer and rebuttal to these lies. Persecution and adversity only strengthen my identity in Christ!
My identity in Christ is revealed and confirmed to be what Jesus has stated are the positives of the beatitudes:
- Theirs is the kingdom of heaven,
- They will be comforted,
- They shall inherit the earth,
- They shall be satisfied,
- They shall receive mercy,
- They shall see God,
- They shall be called sons of God,
- Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The faithful follower of Christ has all of these positives that are theirs in Jesus. More than that really, each of those statements is found in Jesus alone. He is my reward. With Jesus as my reward, I can rejoice and be glad in any and every situation because my comfort and security are not found in the things of this world. I am a royal child of God whose reward is in heaven with Jesus!