“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11, NIV).
One of my favorite stories is when Jesus healed a paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12. Jesus was teaching, and the house he was in was so full there was no room for anyone to get in. Some men came, carrying a man who was paralyzed, but they couldn’t get to Jesus to ask if he would heal the man. So, they climbed to the roof of the house, knocked a hole through the ceiling, and lowered the man down right in front of Jesus.
Jesus saw their faith and forgave the man’s sin. Here, the religious leaders picked a fight with Jesus—only God has the authority to forgive sins. By forgiving the paralyzed man’s sins, Jesus was in effect claiming to be God, and that didn’t sit well with the religious leaders of the day. From this point on in Mark’s gospel, they begin to oppose Jesus.
But Jesus came back at them by asking which is easier, to say to someone their sins are forgiven, or to heal them of their paralysis? Obviously, it’s easier to say a few words about forgiveness than to actually heal paralysis. Nonetheless, Jesus healed the man to show that God had given him authority not just to heal, but also to forgive sins. Yet, the religious leaders still opposed Jesus. In Mark 3:6, just one chapter later, they were plotting to kill him.
Jesus’s good actions stirred up negative reactions. It will be the same for us today. Obedience to God will provoke a negative reaction. Good will be opposed by evil. Gone are the days when Christians enjoyed widespread cultural acceptance and sat in the seat of cultural influence.
“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).