"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
About the same time we began teaching from this passage, I stumbled on a series of sermons by John Piper on the Beatitudes. His sermon that covers this passage is appropriately titled Blessed Are the Persecuted. Jesus' words are never easy. In fact they are impossible without the in filling of Holy Spirit. (All things are possible with God!) But this one, "Blessed... Rejoice and be glad" when you are persecuted! Whew! Yet if you stop and think about it, Jesus is saying store your treasure in heaven, not on the earth (Matt. 6:19-20).
In this passage Jesus encourages us to consider the prophets who went before us (also see Hebrews 11:36-38). In his sermon John Piper suggested that we consider those who rejoiced though facing suffering and death since Jesus walked the earth.
Some of people whose testimonies Piper presented I knew, many I did not. One I person I hadn't heard of was Obadiah Holmes. John Piper wrote the following regarding him, "What moved Obadiah Holmes, after ninety lashes turned his back to jelly for Jesus, to say to the magistrates, "You have struck me with roses"? "
I was curious to learn more about Obadiah, so I went to the fount of knowledge and looked him up.
This incident is described in Wikipedia:
"In 1650 he and others were taken to court for their religious views and practices, and compelled to leave the colony [Massachusetts]. He settled in Newport in the Rhode Island colony and soon befriended John Clarke and John Crandall. In July 1651 these three men, while visiting an elderly friend in Lynn, Massachusetts, were apprehended, tried, and given exorbitant fines for their religious practices. Friends paid the fines for Clarke and Crandall, but when Holmes learned of this he refused to allow them to pay his fine. Six weeks after trial he was taken to the whipping post in Boston and given 30 strokes, which were laid on so harshly that for weeks afterward Holmes could only sleep while on his knees and elbows."
A Surprise Connection
Not to take away from Obadiah's suffering and his super natural response, after reading this I had to stop. I audibly said to myself, "Wait, I know John Crandall." John Crandall is an ancestor of mine, an 8th great grandfather. In my last blog I wrote of my 2nd great grandfather, Oscar Babcock. John Crandall was Oscar's 3rd great grandfather. Small world.