more than guns (the end of the beatitudes)

“Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5.10

It’s not recognition, but rejection, that is the reward the disciples get for their message. Note that these men are suffering for their own just judgements and actions. For it is by these that they who renounce possessions, fortune, rights, righteousness, honor, and force for the sake of following Christ, will be distinguished from the world. The world will be offended by them, and so the disciples will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

It is important that Jesus gives His blessing not just to suffering incurred directly for the confession of His name, but also to suffering for doing the right things. They receive the same promise as the poor, for in suffering persecution they are their equals in poverty.

Having reached the end of the beatitudes, we naturally ask if there is any place on this earth for the community they describe. Clearly there is one place, and only one, and that is where the poorest, meekest, and most sorely tried of all men is to be found – on the cross of Golgotha. The fellowship of the beatitudes is the fellowship of the Crucified. From the cross there comes the call “blessed, blessed.”

The last part of the beatitudes are addressed directly to the disciples for only they can understand it,

“Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” — Jesus, Matthew 5.11-12 (emphasis mine).

“For my sake,” the disciples are reproached, but because it is for His sake, the reproach falls on Him. The curse, the deadly persecution and evil slander confirm the blessed state of the disciples in their fellowship with Jesus.

It conldn’t be otherwise, for these meek strangers are bound to provoke the world to insult, violence and slander. The voice of these poor, meek men are too loud and menacing, and their suffering is too patient and far too silent. The testimony of their poverty and their endurance of the wrongs of this world are just too powerful. This is fatal, and so, while Jesus calls them blessed, the world cries, “Away with them!”

But to where? To the kingdom of heaven. There shall the poor be seen in the halls of joy. With His own hand, God wipes away the tears from the eyes of those who had mourned on earth. He feeds the hungry at His great Banquet. There stand the scarred and mangled bodies of the martyrs, now glorified and clothed in the white robes of eternal righteousness, instead of the rags of sin and repentance. The echoes of this joy reach the little flock below as it stands beneath the cross, and they hear Jesus saying, “Blessed are ye”

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