God’s Plan: The Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7) continues. It may seem strange that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, from the work of reconciliation to the experience of hostility. However hard we may try to make peace with some people, they refuse to live at peace with us. God knows what He is doing. Jesus teaches us to focus on God’s will, not ours.
Why it is important: Not all attempts at reconciliation succeed. Indeed, some take the initiative to oppose us, and in particular to ‘revile’ or slander us. Some want to injure us or kill us. That is a fact. Jesus warned us to expect it.
The bottom line: This is not because of my foibles or idiosyncrasies, but ‘for righteousness’ sake’ and ‘on Jesus account’, that is, because others find distasteful the righteousness for which I hunger and thirst, and because they have rejected the Messiah I seek to follow. Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems, the Jesus system and the worldly system.
Fortunate (aka Blessed) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10 (NASB)
Consider this: Persecution by the world and secular powers is a likely consequence of faith. Scripture identifies a number of potential sources of such persistent harassment but it is definitely clear we will be persecuted because we follow Jesus.
- 2 Timothy 3:12 (NASB) — Indeed, all who desire to live godly in the Messiah Jesus will be persecuted.
- Matthew 13:21 (NASB) — “Yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
- Mark 10:29–30 (NASB) —Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the good news sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”
- 1 Thessalonians 3:4 (NASB) — For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.