6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The persecuted both connect with God’s righteousness (Mt. 5;6) and it’s practice (Mt. 5:10) which is the equivalent of salt, which makes the food it touches more flavorful, and light, which illuminates even total darkness. Here, righteousness is equated with the person, the work and the name of Jesus. Hence, Jesus/righteousness are one and the same.
The logical conclusion is to acknowledge that those who speak and live the life of Jesus can expect persecution. This is verified in Paul’s writings to Timothy:
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
-Paul-2 Timothy 3:10-13
Note verse 12: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, ” Added to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, at this specific place where God’s righteousness is equated with Jesus, this makes it clear: those who serve as salt and light to their communities in the name of Christ and influencing others for righteousness, can expect to be persecuted for the sake of Christ or God’s righteousness.
In conclusion, those who are poor in spirit, who mourn over their sins, who submit to God’s will, who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, and who are merciful and pure in heart in their endeavor will be persecuted.
Those who are followers of Christ, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who practice mercy to others and who are pure in heart can expect to be persecuted. Persecution comes in many forms; but, it is directly connected to our pursuit in righteousness and our love for Jesus Christ.