Today’s Section is weighty and long, so I will skip my opening commentary, and just dive in to what Jesus said: “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.”
Blessed. Consider the blessing here is different, and yet it is the culmination of each and every one of the other blessings. Being poor in Spirit, in mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, and persecuted for the sake of righteousness will often, if not always, lead us to be reviled for the sake of Christ. I don’t say this tongue in cheek, or lightly, but even within the local congregations we will be reviled, and for what reason? We’re following after Christ, and our light disrupts people’s darkness and perceived righteousness (acts they do, as opposed to the righteousness of Christ). And it is within this that we will be blessed. We will be blessed, because we are following in the steps of Christ, and the religious and secular of Jesus day, the Pharisees, priests, Sadducees and Herodians, all sought to silence Him. So too will it be with us, and we, like the early disciples, and Christ-followers in many parts of the world today, will rejoice and be glad within the persecutions, because we are partakers of the suffering of Christ. There is a blessing, for we know that we are doing as He did when we receive such revulsion.
…are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. We are blessed in this because we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ. It is for His name’s sake, and those who are jealous, those who seek their own glory, those who try to find Jesus on their own righteousness will not understand, because there is no righteousness to be had apart from Christ. Loved ones, this is not a “what if” scenario, but a promise that Jesus gave to His disciples over and over again, one He lived over and over again, and if we seek the Righteousness of Christ, we WILL suffer for His Name’s sake. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” I’ve suffered it, many in the Church have suffered it, some are being tortured, imprisoned, and killed as we speak for the name of Jesus. And in this, we are blessed, and should find joy in the blessing.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. Jesus, again, points to a day that is coming. We are blessed now, but will receive a reward when the work is completed. Not that we should seek revulsion, persecution, and tribulation, that is not what Jesus is saying at all. He’s saying that such things are a result of following Jesus to the full. We will be rewarded when it happens as a result of following Jesus, not in seeking it out. While we are called to live a life at peace with our neighbor, living out our life in Christ boldly will, as a natural side effect, bring us grief, because if we live in the light of Jesus, those in darkness who love the darkness rather than light will try and extinguish what Jesus is doing. And so we live for Jesus, not for gain on earth, but for the words “well done, good and faithful servant.
…for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. If we read the Old Testament, and New, everyone who tried to live a life that was righteous, everyone who tried to warn of the wrath and judgement of God that is coming, everyone who tried to stand against a wicked and crooked generation was persecuted. The Churches at Colossae, Thessalonica and several others were persecuted, not to mention Peter, Paul, Stephen and countless others who were not named in the Scriptures. It happens today, and will continue until the Lord returns. We, who are alive now, who are seeking Christ with everything, not hoping to gain anything this side of heaven, should understand this. We will suffer for Righteousness’ sake. We will suffer for Christ’s sake, but we need to stand on Christ, for the persecution is temporary, this life is temporary, but Eternity is forever, and judgement day is for everyone. So let us seek the righteousness that is only found in Christ Jesus. It will come with trials, and persecutions and tribulations, but it will come with blessings and joy innumerable.
1 Peter 4
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.