Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I wonder how the hearers digested this outlandish statement. It surely went against all their expectations.
But contained here is the great divide. The righteous do not belong either to or in this world. The righteous are hated by the world and always will be. Why? because righteousness in another person threatens/convicts us in our unrighteousness.
Remember, our righteousness, as His followers, is imputed, unearned, but evident because we are reflecting him; what a blessing for us.
There was one, one only, who was in and of himself righteous. And this same one was persecuted to the extreme, the cross.
No wonder Jesus later tells his followers to ‘take up their cross.’ Let us set our sights on the Kingdom of Heaven, and like him, eagerly look toward that joy set before us.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.