11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In the current campaign for the next President of the United States, unfortunately we have begun to see a lot of insulting going on between candidates. I think that is unfortunate. Instead of campaigning for what they stand for, they are spending more time trying to insult their competitors.
But I think Jesus is talking about a different kind of insult. Jesus is talking to his disciples about the type of insults they will incur not by what they say, but who they follow. And he doesn't mince words. He says you will be insulted and treated badly because of being associated with me. But he also gives them a promise. By enduring this kind of treatment for His Name, there will be a reward for them in heaven. Next, he compares them to the prophets of old.
Many think the role of prophets was to predict the future, and of course they did. But the definition of the word prophet means, "one who speaks the word of God!" And we see what happened to the prophets of the old. By speaking the Word of God to those who were in rebellion against God, they literally took their lives into their hands. But they could not but speak the Word of God, it burned in their hearts. It was more important for them to honor and obey God, than to garner the praise and approval of others.
Indeed all these things that Jesus had predicted happened to the disciples, and more. But now they are receiving their reward in heaven. They rejoiced here on earth because they considered themselves worthy to suffer for His name, and now they are rejoicing in heaven for what they endured here on earth.
So if this true for Jesus, and for his disciples, do think it might hold true for us 2,000 years ago? Jesus promised many blessings to his followers, but also was clear that the path to following Him would not be an easy one. In the Gospels Jesus calls this life the "narrow road" and only few find it. Both in the letters of James and 1 Peter they both say, "Don't be surprised if you face various kinds of trials of all kinds". Bottom line Jesus never promised following him would be easy, but worth it. And let's face it, what are the alternatives? What else is worth standing for and giving your life to? What else would be willing to take an insult for?
The next time you receive an insult for being a Christian, don't be insulted! You are blessed now and will be rewarded in heaven!