Blessed are those who have been persecuted
for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people
insult you and falsely say all kinds of evil against
you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your
reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In the Beatitudes Christ gives us the markers that describe a true disciple, one that is truly following Christ. The first seven markers are found in verses 3-9 and they are internal spiritual realities that manifest themselves in many ways in the life of a true believer. They are being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, being gentle or meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, being pure in heart, and being a peacemaker (notice it is being a peacemaker, not being peaceful or at peace). The final marker is one that comes from the outside, and that is persecution which is seen in verses 10-12.
Interestingly, there are three reasons given for the persecution. They are for right living (righteousness sake, vs 10), right belief (because of Me, vs 11), and right testimony (in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you, vs 12).
In the NT we see many instances of persecution for the reasons listed above, here are a few:
I Peter 2:20-21, 3:17, 4:4, 4:15-16, 4:19, II Timothy 3:12,
II Corinthians 3:14-16, John 3:19-21, Ephesians 5:6-11
Acts 4:8-21, Acts 5:41, Acts 15:25-26, I Peter 4:14, II Timothy 1:8, 12
Acts 4:8-21, 14:1-6,16:19-24, 17:2-7
Because you believe the right thing, you will speak the right thing and live the right way. The result of this at some point and at some level will be persecution; and blessed are you when being persecuted for these reasons. Persecution for right belief, right living, and right testimony is a marker, an identifier, that this person is truly a child of God.