I'd like to warn my dear brothers and sisters in advance that just as is explicitly stated for us in accounts like Romans 9:33 or Malachi 3:2, 3, any genuine effort to TRULY address scriptural passages such as here at Matthew 5:10-12 and Luke 6:22, 23 will be recognized by most people as downright offensive even if it is by no means intended to. Particularly if it would occur in the SETTING that we are dealing with here in the gospel accounts, almost without exception any person who would even dare to demonstrate what is actually being conveyed in divinely inspired teachings like this will only be recognized as very prideful and self righteous as well as even self deluded. This is despite the fact that anyone who would genuinely find themselves in a POSITION to actually do so in a setting of a broken kingdom covenant would be keenly aware that they only qualify as a kind of "loathsome corpse" or figurative "carcass" that they could only hope and PRAY at least a "few" unclean "eagles" would choose to begin feeding from. (Re 11:8 12:14) (Mt 22:14 24:28) (Le 11:13) What is more, rest assured such ones already know in advance that genuinely addressing teachings of Jesus like this would bring down a lot of heat on them as the saying goes.
In this case to begin demonstrating that the messages being conveyed in this spiritual language go even FAR beyond what might appear on the surface, with these verses of Mathew 5:I0-12 and Luke 6:22, 23 in mind, I'd like to start by encouraging people to ponder the following questions:
Since most of us here (for example) were formerly members of the Watchtower organization, did we not in at least many cases waste even the better portion of our entire LIVES believing that this "persecution for righteousness sake" was something we were experiencing for actually BEING a member of this organization? Were we not in fact often reminded of that very thing by religious leaders who at the same time continually failed to acknowledge that really EVERY religious group or denomination is persecuted for their beliefs and practices? We of course realize now that if anything what we were always led to recognize as "persecution" and opposition that would lead to a "great reward in heaven" was in at least some sense actually warranted in our case. This is because we now realize this persecution was NOT "for righteousness sake."
But now that we are no longer a part of the organization or are perhaps at least in the PROCESS of no longer comprising a member, NOW we understand what this persecution Jesus is speaking of is all about, don't we? After all we are currently experiencing no shortage of "hatred, exclusions and reproaches" by seemingly countless "Jehovah's Witnesses" for no longer buying into many of their beliefs, teachings and practices. Isn't that so?
Well the fact is if this is the way we now choose to understand these particular words of Jesus we are STILL rather far from truly grasping them, and once again this can be easily demonstrated even also with simply a closer examination of these verses THEMSELVES, even ASIDE from a genuine consideration of the setting and context they are found in. Particularly in the case of any who might doubt this claim, let's by all means begin by taking a closer look at these words of Jesus:
"Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy since your reward is great in the heavens. (Mt 5:10-12)
22 "Happy are you whenever men hate you and whenever they exclude you and reproach you and cast your name out as wicked for the sake of the son of man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for your reward is great in heaven, for those are the same things their forefathers used to do to the prophets." (Lu 6:22, 23)
So WHO exactly is it REALLY that Jesus is addressing with these particular words, and in what specific SETTING or prophetic time frame has this specific audience found themselves in? Moreover as we GENUINELY contemplate these questions in light of what is likely the FIRST time we have EVER taken a closer and more careful look at these verses, here is yet ANOTHER question we would do well to consider:
What really was the SOURCE or at least the PRIMARY source of the opposition and persecution that JESUS was experiencing during his 3 1/2 year ministry, as well as those who ultimately chose to JOIN him in this work? If our "leader" or "foundation cornerstone" himself was personally performing this same ministry on the earth in the flesh right now at this very moment, would the brunt of the opposition and mistreatment experienced by him perhaps be coming from members of the Watchtower organization?
There are AT LEAST two or three things that would make this kind of reasoning rather problematic the moment we might actually begin obeying the command to "render our sacred service with our power of reason" as well as "carefully examine the scriptures daily as to whether these things are so." (Ro 12:1) (Ac 17:11) First of all, we already know that almost without exception the people who identify themselves as "Jehovah's Witnesses" do not even ASPIRE to a heavenly hope or "reward" AT ALL, let alone one that would position them as among those this "kingdom would BELONG to." (Lu 12:32) (Joh 10:16) Secondly, even in the case of the ones among this organization that DO identify with such a hope, the fact is we are still left facing a serious dilemma if we would choose to recognize even THEM as the target audience of Jesus here, and by extension the ones he would normally receive opposition from. So what exactly is the problem in THIS case?
When it comes to the issue of establishing or even RE-establishing true worship on the earth and by extension true worshipers, the ENTIRE HISTORY of Jehovah's nation has made something exceedingly clear that really should only be self evident to any logical mind. In the case of every single one of these foretold "seven births of the barren woman," these "comings of the kingdom" have begun with the re-instituting of a GENUINE theocratically appointed SHEPHERDING fold. (Jer 15:9)
Yes the setting we are dealing with here in Matthew 5 and Luke 6 is the same one we are ALWAYS considering immediately prior to another foretold "coming of the kingdom" which of course would INCLUDE the Millennial Reign! Just as Jesus himself foretold immediately before his death in 33 CE, the only GENUINE ministry that would be occurring on the earth AT ALL in these time frames would be one targeted exclusively towards his own spirit anointed "DOMESTICS" or "BROTHERS." (Mt 24:45 25:40) Compare (Mt 10:5, 6 23:38) However since any genuine anointing of HOLY spirit in these post-apostasy/pre-kingdom time frames would soon result in these "brothers" "catching sight of the disgusting thing" that yet another broken "holy covenant" has placed in the "temple" spoken of in accounts like 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 and prompted them to "flee to the mountains" in some manner, we would do quite well to consider the question of where we would even FIND what now qualify as these "sleeping" spiritual "widows" or "virgins." (Mt 24:15, 16 25:1, 2, 5) (La 1:1, 4) (Da 11:30-32) (2 Th 2:1-4)
Assuming we would ever even choose to humbly ACCEPT an assignment from a genuine prophet of Jehovah in the first place to share with them in their ministry, would our quest to find these "lost sheep of the house of Israel" perhaps drive us to the "Kingdom Halls" of the Watchtower organization or for that matter the churches of ANY organized religion in a time frame in which we are not allowed to even "TOUCH" the spiritual "vomit" we would be dealing with there? (Am 3:7) (2 Cor 6:17) (Isa 28:8) (Mt 16:6)
You see just as was illustrated for us as far back as prophetic dramas such as Moses being pictured as ATTEMPTING to serve as an advocate of his fellow Hebrews even some 40 years PRIOR to the mass exodus but instead soon finding himself forced to "flee to the wilderness" to serve as a shepherd over the "little flock" of "Jethro;" (Ex 2:11-15) (Lu 12:32) or the way that a newly anointed shepherd boy or "virgin" by the name of David initially endeavored to play a kind of "NEW song on a harp" for a king that he did not yet realize was completely apostate and soon found himself compelled to essentially do the same; (1 Sa 16:13, 16 19:9, 10) (Rev 14:2,3) (Eze 33:32) here is yet another thing or two we have been well programmed to overlook when it comes to the ministries of the "two witnesses," INCLUDING the ones of the first century.
First of all do we imagine that JESUS or for that matter even John the Baptist was unaware of the completely apostate condition of what once again now WAS Jehovah's nation when they embarked on their ministries in the early part of the first century? As had of course ALWAYS been the case, basically the very PURPOSE of this "son of man" entity is to RESTORE true worship to the earth. (Eze 3:1-4) (Re 10:9-11) So why then did Jesus begin his ministry right inside the synagogues of apostate Judaism?
This would be for the very same reason he spent the first several years of his life in EGYPT! (Mt 2:15) Not only did such things serve as further symbolic representations of the humble and repentant acceptance of full responsibility of the "Sodom"-like spiritual uncleanness and guiltiness that ALWAYS comes with a broken holy covenant and which the "two witnesses" must ALWAYS accept upon themselves in order for this spiritual death to be REMOVED from the earth with the "crushing" of their flesh upon the completion of their ministries, but Jesus himself was illustrating the fact that just as was true of ancient David, these newly anointed "virgins" would EXPERIENCE their anointings while already AMONG this now apostate nation. (Re 11:3, 8, 11, 12) (Le 3:4 16:10) (Isa 53:10) In most cases at least, they would not even initially KNOW that another act of spiritual adultery on the part of Jehovah's earthly shepherds had yet again transformed what HAD been a "faithful town" into a great spiritual "prostitute." (Isa 1:21 10:6) It would basically BE this very anointing that would allow them to soon "CATCH SIGHT" of this disastrous situation in the first place. (Mt 24:15, 16)
Yes we really should not find this any more perplexing than the fact that BOTH Jesus AND John the Baptist soon found themselves performing their ministries in "the wilderness" or "lonely places" surrounded with the very same type of people that David did when he "escaped to the cave of Adullum." (Lu 4:22-30) (Mr 1:45) (Mt 3:1-4) (1 Sa 22:1, 2) No this does not mean that we need to start heading for the desert with our back packs and sleeping bags. This symbolic spiritual language is simply pointing to the fact that in ANY prophetic time frame where we again feel compelled to eagerly anticipate another foretold "coming of the kingdom" or a kind of deliverance from what now feels very much like oppressive "slavery" and bondage, HOPEFULLY we have also "caught sight" of our desperate need to "get out from among and separate ourselves" from the meetings and false religious literature of ALL organized religion, not to mention the POLITICS of this demonic world. (2 Cor 6:17) (Re18:4)
So now assuming we have actually done this just as was demonstrated for us by our leader and exemplar in a setting (once again) immediately prior to another foretold "birth of the barren woman," and assuming we actually ARE experiencing all these reproaches, lies, humiliations and oppositions Jesus is speaking of here in Matthew 51-12 and Luke 6:22, 23, then have we suddenly found ourselves in a much better position to TRULY understand what particular "persecution for righteousness sake" we are dealing with in this case? (1 Sa 2:5) (Jer 15:9)
You see if we are not even ANYWHERE NEAR the politics and false religions of this demonic world, then WHERE exactly is this opposition coming from that Jesus made perfectly clear we SHOULD be experiencing? Have we perhaps forgotten that one of the primary ways this particular persecution and even BETRAYAL was "typified" for us was with the ancient Joseph and the manner in which his eleven BROTHERS sold him into slavery and bondage when he for his part had only come to check on their well being and that of their herds? (He 8:5) (Ge 37:12-36)
Yes just as Jesus himself made perfectly clear in his "Sermon on the Mount" shortly before his death, it at least SHOULD be our own spirit anointed "BROTHERS" that we are ministering to in a prophetic time frame of a broken holy kingdom covenant, assuming we have even ACCEPTED such an assignment either directly from Jehovah as a prophet or otherwise from one of these genuinely "appointed" teachers. (Mt 24:45 25:40) (Mr 3:13-15) (Am 3:7) If or when we actually DO begin having a share in disseminating the spiritual "food" and "clothing" spoken of in accounts like Matthew 25:34-40, rest assured we will soon enough begin experiencing the "persecution for righteousness sake" that Jesus is speaking of in Luke 6:22, 23 and Matthew 5:10-12. We should nonetheless be "happy" over it however because of the promised "reward" for successfully bearing up under it.