We’ve been undertaking a thorough study of The Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew 5. These verses have a centrifugal structure which amounts to a cycle of the Christian life … repeating and growing.
The Beatitudes are set up in a 2-block structure. There are two groups of four, and each group ends with a reference to righteousness. The first group ends with verse 6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” And the second group ends with verse 10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
The three Beatitudes that lead to hunger for righteousness are descriptions of a kind of holy emptiness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn over their needy condition, and the meek who hand their cause over to God. It’s natural that these three descriptions of emptiness and need should be followed by a description of hunger. If you don’t have something, you hunger for it.
Then the next three beatitudes are descriptions not of emptiness but of fullness. The hunger is beginning to be satisfied by an overflowing mercy, a pure heart, and a power to make peace. So the righteousness longed for in verse 6 is given in the form of mercy, purity, and peacemaking.
The result is either persecution to you OR glory to God for this very righteousness, and those are the two topics we want to address next.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Why is Righteousness Persecuted?
Now, immediately upon reading this, you are probably asking the question, “Why would anyone be persecuted for being merciful? Why would anyone be persecuted for being pure? Why would anyone be persecuted for working to make peace?”
We’ll dive into this in our next post.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.