Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10 (NIV)
I don’t know anyone who wants to be persecuted. James says we should consider it all joy when we face trials and persecution (James 1:2-3). But James is looking past the actual persecution to the positive and good results that can be gained from such encounters. Perhaps that is the key to understanding the text today. As a matter of fact, that concept makes the idea of looking positively upon persecution as a real possibility. Getting knocked down so that I can be raised up to be a better follower of Jesus may not be desirable, but it may be something that brings glory to God and others to Jesus.
As we approach Good Friday we remember that Jesus the perfectly righteous One, suffered more than anyone. The Old Testament prophets foretold of his suffering and called him the Suffering Servant of the Lord (Is. 52:13- 53:12). Thanks and praise be to the Lord God Almighty who raised Jesus from the dead and placed him at the right hand of the Father. One day the one who was knocked down, mocked and scourged will rise above all, will be exalted to the highest place and his name will be above every name and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that JESUS is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
He may have been knocked down in the eyes of the world, but he has been raised eternally as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.