The Persecuted

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult youpersecute 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.

Verse 11-12 in the Contemporary English Version

11 God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12 Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.

Introduction–Three in One

I guess you could say there are three forms of persecution here:

[1] Being Insulted— defamed, railed at, chided, taunted, reviled. Being scorned, mocked are made fun of is very close. It is the exact kind of treatment the Roman soldiers gave Jesus when they dressed Him as a king and bowed before Him. They were mocking Him.

[2] Being Mistreated–the word translated persecute means to be hunted, to be pursued; to drive away or put one to flight.

[3] Being spoken evil of–Being slandered, falsely accused, lied about

Transition

Since we are finishing up with the Eight Beatitudes, let’s do a brief review before we unpack number Eight: Remember [1] These are not pious platitudes [2] These are not random statements. Jesus has them in a sequential order…

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble. Humility is first base in God’s kingdom. It is the most important virtue. We can’t do anything effectively in the kingdom without humility.
  • Blessed are those who mourn over their sin and the sins of society. Humility first, repentance second. These two are the pillars that all the others stand on
  • Blessed are the meek–strength under control. We are to be teachable and ready to follow.
  • Blessed are those who have a spiritual appetite–Hungry for more Jesus.
  • Blessed are those who show mercy
  • Blessed are the pure in heart…no chance of seeing God until we become single minded…focused on Jesus
  • Blessed are the peace makers…our calling and most difficult task, the ministry of reconciliation [2 Corinthians 5]

Jesus knew that once we reached this plateau, [humble, repentant, meek, hungry for Jesus, merciful to others, focused on Jesus, and involved in reconciling men to God]we would be persecuted. Thus the final beatitude…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Three Things To Notice

1. This Beatitude has a qualifier…persecuted for righteousness sake.

V. 10…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.

We have to be persecuted, insulted, slandered for righteousness sake or Jesus sake. If we are being persecuted for doing something stupid, that does not qualify. I get insulted a lot. I was trying to be nice to someone the other night at a ball game and they insulted me right there in front of everyone. I am not easily embarrassed but it was a stinging comment and it almost hurt my feelings. To be honest with you: I am not sure that qualifies for what Jesus is speaking of here. He is not talking about being persecuted because we are opinionated or have a big mouth or because we are obnoxious. To qualify, it must be for a righteous cause or Jesus sake.

2. This Beatitude has a promise…Great reward in heaven

v.11…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…v.12…Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…

There is a passage in Hebrews 11 that I want us to look at…

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak,Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e]they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

3. This Beatitude has a challenge…Rejoice and be glad!

V. 12…Rejoice and be glad…v.12…Rejoice and be glad…

I have prayed about this challenge all week as I prepared for this sermon. I have been put to the test more than once and each time I have failed miserably. I know I have told the story about the abortion clinic but I’m going to tell it again. A man stopped his car, rolled down his window and said to rather vulgar and profane things to the women who were praying on the sidewalk. So I started toward his car. When he saw me coming, he hit the accelerator and was off but like a fool, I chased him on foot and almost caught him at the next red light. I’m not a violent man and he was never in danger but he didn’t that to be the case. I walked back to the clinic feeling like a hero but when I got there, those little catholic ladies gave me a chewing. They quoted word for word–Matthew 5:12. They were rejoicing and I was angry. I had failed yet again.

I have seen this principle at work: one night on church visitation, a young woman named Nancy was up to share the gospel. Her team leader got her in the home and she was sharing with a man who they thought was alone. Right in the middle of her gospel presentation, an angry beast came out of the bedroom, the man’s wife, and she was shouting for them to get out and of course they got out.

When she shared this experience in report time, I thought {O my goodness, she will never go out again} but toward the end of her report, she began to laugh, to rejoice that she had been counted worthy to suffer reproach for His sake. It turned into a celebration right there in front of my eyes.

4. This Beatitude has an encouragement…You are being treated like the prophets.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

None of the O.T. Prophets were treated well; basically all of them were persecuted. Jeremiah is the prime example. He spent more time in jail than he did out. I would say his home but he never had one, nor a wife or children. Isaiah gave his life to his country and countrymen and his reward was wicked Manasseh putting him in a hollow log and sawing him into with a cross cut saw.

Story of Charles Stanley being elected at SBC president…

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