“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Very few people in the West know the hideous persecutions Jesus and his friends and disciples experienced; however, no matter what kind of troubles we have, we are told that a kingdom will be ours.
Kingdoms set the mind awash in fairytales where one might imagine wearing a glimmering crown in a great castle. But the Messiah’s kingdom is not of this world. It is not exactly a material kingdom, and so, what is it that we might inherit?
There are many who do know the cruelty of being shamed and mutilated to death for their beliefs and there are also those who suffer terribly in other ways without comfort or explanation.
Sometimes there is no answer for “why” we have these experiences, we only know that Christ makes a promise.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 ESV)
Only the suffering of the Messiah can promise criminals a paradise. If only we truly understood our lives as manifestations of the paradise of which Jesus speaks, if only we knew that none of what we perceive as suffering is in vain, if only we knew that “Heaven” is spread out before us and is within us – and that the Messiah is in us as we are in Him as He is in the Father… if we only we could believe…
Today I pray, “Help my unbelief” and “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”