This week we are finishing our discussion of the Beatitudes with “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Please take the time to review the questions in John Stott’s The Beatitudes – Developing Spiritual Character along with his discussion of Acts 5:17-42.
When we look at this final beatitude, Jesus does not call all persecution “blessed.” Rather, it is only that persecution that arises out of righteousness. As we looked at last month with the fourth beatitude, righteous does not mean obedience to a set of ethical norms or impersonal laws. Rather, righteousness is grounded in interpersonal relationships and the rights and duties we owe to one another and to God. Bailey has a good discussion of what Biblical righteousness is in Jesus Though Middle Eastern Eyes. If you have the opportunity please re-read pages 76-81 of Bailey. The righteousness that Jesus requires is to “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Micah 6:8. When we do that, we should expect the same opposition by the powers of this world as experienced by the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New Testament.
I have also attached Martin Luther’s commentary on this verse. Luther provides a wonderful summary of the beatitudes culminating in this final instruction. Luther says that the Beatitudes teach us that the blessed person is “poor, sad, miserable, and suffers want and hunger” but towards others, he is “a useful, beneficent, merciful, peaceable person.” However, his reward in this life is persecution, but his reward in the next life is the kingdom of heaven itself. Again, if you have the opportunity, please read through Luther’s insights.
SCHEDULING: Beginning on Tuesday, September 20, Fr. Gabriel Bullock of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church will lead us through a discussion of the Book of Hebrews. His lessons should take us through the rest of the fall.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is meatballs. Discussion about 6:45. The outside readings aren’t required, only suggested. Hope to see you here.
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.John 15:20.