On My Account (Matthew 5:11-12)
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. —Matthew 5:11-12
Imagine being in that crowd hearing Jesus’s sermon on the mount. Jesus is describing the radical nature of the character of God’s people and emphasizes that God’s favor is upon a people like this. You can almost feel the cadence of heads nodding in a slow yet reserved agreement with His teaching. What Jesus spoke sounds right—like it is being spoken by God. "In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:2).
At this point in the sermon, Jesus shifts His focus from the crowds to the individual. It is as if Jesus has direct eye contact with each person in the crowd. And now a couple centuries later, Jesus is speaking directly to you and me through His Word. "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" (Matthew 5:11-12).
Knowing that Jesus is speaking to you, where does your mind go first? That you will be blessed—or that you will be persecuted, or that you should rejoice, or that you will receive a reward?
Maybe you are like me—I think about the persecution and the evil that people could direct to me personally. What will I have to endure, or succumb to? I think about Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel, how all of them received persecution intended to lead to their death. They were ready to joyfully accept death rather than worship an idol and so dishonor their God. They were ready to suffer “on His account.”
Hebrews 11 speaks of the heroes of faith who were true to God, who were persecuted, it did not go well for them in this life.
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:35-38)
Jesus knew what lay ahead as He gave this sermon. He knew of the reviling and persecution, He knew about Calvary, and He knew the joy and reward that was to follow. "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
If you live your life by God’s design in the beatitudes, you, like the prophets who have gone before you, will be persecuted and maligned and slandered and hated and possibly killed.
Believer, rejoice in it, not because of the heart-wrenching, awful, painful circumstances of these trials, but rejoice because you are carrying the cause of Christ to the world around you. You are completing the afflictions of Christ in your world, and God will reward you. Paul writes, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Colossians 1:24).
Believer, you can also rejoice that a day of accounting is coming—a day when you will stand before Christ, not because of what you have done, but because of who you are in Christ. He will bring to completion what He began in you (Philippians 1:16). And, don’t miss this part—your reward will be great in heaven.
What aspect of this passage gets most of your attention (God’s favor, your joy, persecution, reward)?
Is there a sufficient amount of rejoicing in your life? How can this passage fuel your joy?
If you are a parent, how does this passage influence your prayers for your children?