Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for their is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
Generally we think of persecution as being the physical abuse we have seen happen in communist countries yet it can be a lot more subtle. If we think of Mary, Jesus’ mother, she endured a lot of persecution that we often don’t realize.
Mary was found to be pregnant before she was married. The penalty for this kind of behaviour under Jewish law was to be stoned (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). How could Mary explain that she was a virgin yet pregnant? While the danger of being stoned is not mentioned in Matthew’s account, she was in danger of being publicly disgraced. Fortunately God sent Joseph an angel to tell him to marry her.
Years later when she and Joseph returned to Nazareth, people had not forgotten. Other people who could do their sums would have realized that Jesus was born before they had been married nine months. The taunts of the crowd in calling Jesus, “Mary’s son”, suggests they were questioning Jesus’ legitimacy (Mark 6:3). Historians tell us that a Jewish man was only called by his mother’s name if his father was unknown.
Yet Mary had committed herself to God. Her words to God’s messenger had been, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said”(Luke 1:38). She endured much misunderstanding because she chose to be obedient.
If we want God’s blessing in our lives we need to press on in times of persecution, even when it comes to us in terms of misunderstandings.