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Steve Ham, AiG–U.S., discusses the final beatitude in light of Christ’s suffering on our behalf.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10–12)
Today’s big question: how should we face persecution?
The night before His Crucifixion Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Even though He had an overriding desire fully submit to the Father’s will, Jesus faced unimaginable torment. The Bible states that “His sweat became like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44), a condition associated with the highest degree of stress.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus taught, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” This statement fits what we see Jesus dealing with in the garden. He was about to have the cup of God’s wrath poured out on Him as Jesus took the judgment that we deserve to have eternally poured out on us.
It was not so much the physical torture or even the physical death that concerned Jesus, but the fact that, as the perfectly pure Son of God, He would soon become sin for us. Many people misplace the physical signs of Christ’s stress as concern for the physical persecution He would endure. Perhaps this is because we cannot even imagine the depth of agony He would experience as He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
We must however consider the result. Because Jesus suffered God’s wrath, we have a sure hope for an eternal future full of love, peace, and rest in the glorious presence of God. On the other hand, this same God will pour out His eternal wrath on all who reject His beloved Son’s sacrifice. It is difficult to fear man when considering this.
In our final devotional of the beatitude series we face a challenge of Christian sincerity. Are your eyes on Christ and His reward, or are you willing to forsake Him because you fear man? Do you consider your reward with Christ much greater than anything that can happen to you in this world? Are you willing to forsake all in this world to love and cherish your Savior?
Whatever man may do to us in this world out of his hatred for God, there is an exponentially greater reward in Christ. We must work to have this perspective if we are going to be effective servants of the King.
Today’s big idea: fear God alone, and love His Son.
What to pray: pray for courage to stand firm in Jesus and that God would continually remind you of the much greater reward.