Persecuted • Devotion #1: Marked by Suffering

In the greatest sermon ever uttered in the existence of humanity, Jesus delivers the eight Beatitudes or blessings at the beginning of the sermon. He lists eight character qualities or traits that a believer can have and the blessing that comes with these traits. What is so beautiful about these blessings that Jesus speaks of is that all of the qualities have to do with our character, desire, and heart. They have nothing to do with what our culture would view as blessings, or marks of a successful person.

In our culture, a person may be blessed if they have lots of money, good health, extremely athletic, or incredibly intelligent, and this is all true as they are all great blessings. However, this is not what Jesus is concerned with when discussing these Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. He talks about what we should thirst for, how our spirit should be, and then He comes to verse 10 in chapter 5 which says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus is saying here what an incredible blessing it is for a person to be persecuted for the name of Christ! Most people would question that and say, “How is that a blessing?” When we are persecuted and suffer for righteousness’ sake, we make God look glorious. John Piper says, “When you say, through the deepest possible pain, God is enough, He is good, He will satisfy us, that makes God look glorious.”

That is why the church, those who proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, should be marked by suffering. God does not look glorious if all we receive from Him are material things, good health, and all the gifts that we could want. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that the blessed are those who are persecuted for Him because they will receive the Kingdom of Heaven. We have a much greater hope than any money could give us, we have much greater confidence than any health could grant us, and we have much greater security than any government could offer us because we rest on the fact that the Creator of the universe came down to this Earth and died for sinners and rose again on the third day so that we may have eternal life. With this hope, we need to go out into the world, preach the Gospel, and be marked by suffering to show the world that we desire nothing else than for the name of Christ to be lifted high. Isaiah 26:8 says, “In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.”

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