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Matthew 5:11-12

When You Are Persecuted

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

"The year following the martyrdom of the before-mentioned persons, viz. 1539, two others were apprehended on a suspicion of heresy; namely, Jerome Russell and Alexander Kennedy, a youth about eighteen years of age.

"The next day they were led to the place appointed for them to suffer; in their way to which, Russell, seeing his fellow-sufferer have the appearance of timidity in his countenance, thus addressed him: 'Brother, fear not; greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world. The pain that we are to suffer is short, and shall be light; but our joy and consolation shall never have an end. Let us, therefore, strive to enter into our Master and Savior's joy, by the same straight way which He hath taken before us. Death cannot hurt us, for it is already destroyed by Him, for whose sake we are now going to suffer.'

"When they arrived at the fatal spot, they both kneeled down and prayed for some time; after which being fastened to the stake, and the fagots lighted, they cheerfully resigned their souls into the hands of Him who gave them, in full hopes of an everlasting reward in the heavenly mansions." (Foxe's Book of Martyrs)

Those men and millions of others down throughout the centuries have been among those to whom Jesus is speaking in our text. Speaking directly to you, His disciple, He makes His address personal in this ninth beatitude. In fact, He uses some form of the pronoun "you" six times in the two verses.

You are blessed when men shall "revile you". As Christians carrying the gospel to the lost, you will be hated and will be attacked with wicked rumors and lies, in order to disgrace you and to destroy your credibility. All manner of evil will be spoken against you. Just as Mr. Russell and Mr. Kennedy had been accused of heresy when they spoke Biblical truth, so people will also accuse you.

Persecution becomes a personal thing. Place yourself in the shoes of those two men. Picture the fire slowly starting to flicker and then to burn more rapidly. Feel the heat burning your face.

Now, Jesus says, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad!" Is your faith strong enough? If you are committed to God, He will give you the courage and will fill you with the joy of Christ at that deadly moment, should it ever come.

Foxe wrote that the two men, Russell and Kennedy, "cheerfully resigned their souls into the hands of Him who gave them." These men focused not on the pain, but on the rewards of heaven, which Jesus has promised will be great. God did the rest by comforting their hearts and filling them with joy.

When you are called upon to suffer such hardships, Jesus holds you with the same esteem as the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the others.

Many Christians, however, try to live their Christian lives inside the sheltered walls of the church building. They give their testimonies to other Christians, or at least to those who are interested in hearing them, but Christ has called us to take His gospel to all nations and peoples. We must make an effort to reach outside the walls of the church, using the talents that God has given us to reach the lost for Christ. That is a riskier task, one that requires a degree of intentionality, but great is your reward in heaven. Do not be afraid of what men can do to you; be counted with the great prophets and speak the truth in all circumstances.

Before The Throne:

Pray for opportunities to reach the lost world, for the courage to speak out boldly, for the faith to withstand the reproaches of others, and for the humility to endure the disgraceful lies of those who will hate you. Pray that God will use your efforts to His glory. Thank Him for the rewards that He holds in trust for you.

For Further Study:

** when. Matt 10:25; Matt 27:39; Ps 35:11; Isa 66:5; Luke 7:33-34; John 9:28; 1Pet 2:23; ** falsely. Gr. lying. 1Pe 4:14; ** for. Matt 10:18, 22, 39; Matt 19:29; Matt 24:9; Ps 44:22; Mark 4:17; Mark 8:35; Mark 13:9, 13; Luke 6:22; Luke 9:24; Luke 21:12, 17; John 15:21; Acts 9:16; Rom 8:36; 1Cor 4:10; 2Cor 4:11; Rev 2:3;

(v.12) ** Rejoice. Luke 6:23; Acts 5:41; Acts 16:25; Rom 5:3; 2Cor 4:17; Phil 2:17; Col 1:24; Jas 1:2; 1Pet 4:13; ** for great. Matt 6:1-2; Matt 6:4-5, 16; Matt 10:41-42; Matt 16:27; Gen 15:1; Ruth 2:12; Ps 19:11; Ps 58:11; Prov 11:18; Isa 3:10; Luke 6:23, 35; 1Cor 3:8, 24; Heb 11:6, 26; ** for so. Matt 21:34-38; Matt 23:31-37; 1Kgs 18:4, 13; 1Kgs 19:2 10-14; 1Kgs 21:20; 1Kgs 22:8, 26-27; 2Kgs 1:9; 2Chr 16:10; 2Chr 24:20-22; 2Chr 36:16; Neh 9:26; Jer 2:30; Jer 26:8; 21-23; Luke 6:23; Luke 11:47-51; Luke 13:34; Acts 7:51; 1Thess 2:15;


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