Sunday, February 16, 2020 am                                        Teachings of Jesus 2020                    MP3                    PP


Sermon On the Mount (5)
The Beatitudes (5)
Matthew 5:3-12


As we have begun examining the teachings of Jesus, the past few lessons have focused on the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, a lesson presented by Jesus, likely early in His ministry.  He began with what we call “the Beatitudes”.  We have noted the first 7 beatitudes and how they build on each other.  We have seen beatitudes dealing with our relationship with God (Poor in spirit, mourning, meek and hungering after righteousness), and those dealing with our relationship with man (merciful, pure in heart and peacemakers).  Today we notice the final one (actually “blessed” is mentioned twice) which is the response of a hostile world to us – blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. 

 I.                     Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake

a.       This is a reminder of the cost of discipleship.
Everything discussed thus far might be challenging to do (being merciful, peaceable in trying circumstances, pure in heart and motives even when other are not, and striving to be right with God regardless the cost, etc.), but add to that, we might face persecutions because we are doing what is right before God. 
The cost of being a disciple is challenging – while our salvation is freely offered to everyone (Romans 6:23), it costs you everything – He must be first in your life (Matthew 16:24-26), even if that means suffering for Him.
Luke 14:27-28 – Jesus again spoke of counting the cost

b.       What is persecution? The word means to flee and indicates the idea of being pursued or chased (put to flight).  The idea is one who is being chased (hunted down) or driven away, harassed and abused, even though he is not guilty.
Jesus describes various forms of persecution in vs. 11 -
- Reviled – a word meaning to be harshly criticized and verbally berated
- Persecuted – as just noted, being harassed or hunted down, possibly with the intent of harming you – even to the point of death.
- Say all kinds of evil against you falsely – slander and false accusations.  It was (and is) not uncommon for lies and false accusations to be made against the ungodly to “frame them” or portray them differently than they really are.  1 Peter 4:3-4 notes how they speak evil of you because you no longer run with them as you did before; Note both 1 Peter 3:15-16 and 2:11-12 which challenge us to live godly lives so that when accusations are made they are proven false.  BUT, if the environment is wicked enough – those false accusations can lead to harsh punishments. 

c.        Christians ought to prepare to be persecuted

                                                   i.      Passages to consider:
2 Timothy 3:12 – all who desire to live godly  WILL suffer persecutions
Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword - Matthew 10:24-29.  This would result in the breaking of family ties and other things
Matthew 10:16-22 – as Jesus sent out the twelve He warned them they would face persecutions, possibly then but DEFINITELY in the future.

Luke 6:26 – Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you…”

                                                 ii.      If we are not persecuted, WHY?  Noting how emphatic many verses are and the examples of the godly in the NT, if all is at peace, we ought to at least step back and take an honest look to determine if we are really serious enough in our faith. 

                                                iii.      Why are Christians persecuted –

1.       Because darkness hates the light - John 3:18-21 – because darkness hates the light.  In reality, you do not have to do anything to others to be persecuted.  Simply being a true and convicted Christian will  cause some to hate you. In our beatitude we are reminded that they were “persecuted for righteousness sake” (vs. 10).  Don’t think it strange concerning the fiery trials – 1 Peter 4:12-16.

2.       Jesus warned that following Him would produce such
Even in our beatitude, Jesus noted that they were reviled and spoken of with all kinds of evil “for My sake.” (Matthew 5:11)  This is interesting as early on Jesus begins making claims about Himself. 
“If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first…” John 15:18-20.  One of the prevalent concerns Christians in our society have is the increasing hostility against Christianity. 

3.       It’s always been that way – notice the final statement of Jesus in vs. 12.  For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   This is an indictment against the corrupt leaders and ungodly who wanted to do whatever they wanted to do. 
One of the continued problems the prophets dealt with was a desire for smooth words (Isaiah 30:10) and to hear what they wanted, Jeremiah 6:14 – false prophets spoke peace when there is no peace, etc. 
And this was recognized in the NT – Matthew 23:29-31 where Jesus condemns their self-righteous hypocrisy about this;  James 5:10 – they are examples of suffering and patience; Acts 7:51-52 where Stephen says they resisted the Holy Spirit just like their fathers and persecuted the prophets, etc.   Hebrews 11:36-40 very likely included some of the prophets who paid for their message of repentance with their lives. 
Faithfully following God has never been the popular course. 

4.       Today, the mantra is tolerance – and by tolerance they mean acceptance of their behavior as equally valid to your convictions.   Many (not all) have no problems with one believing in Jesus as long as you accept them as they are. 
Consider the times we now live in – think about how taking a firm and biblical moral stand causes so many to despise you – name calling, sometimes there are financial or material consequences, AND if they get their way we may be actually punished by an amoral government that want to prohibit you from practicing your conservative morals.

AND, even among professed Christians, if you express your moral concerns some will become angry and reject you.  There may be name calling, ostracization, and even material or financial consequences because they don’t want to hear or consider the dangers of such behaviors.

NOTE: When a church takes a stand to be silent on certain moral issues, or waters them down – (MDR, modesty, our entertainment choices, gambling, the modern dance, social drinking, forsaking the assembly to participate in trivial activities, etc.) – you may be more popular, but have you really grounded the saints?  BE HONEST – if these matters have eternal consequences do you really want them silenced in the pulpit?  Do you really want the sanitized version rather than the whole truth?

d.       The reward –

                                                   i.      Theirs is the kingdom of heaven (same as the first beatitude).  The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who put God first.   Those who are willing to suffer persecutions and tribulations for the cause of Christ are the ones who understand God and who He is.  They have hopes. 
One source noted we have now come full circle.  It begins with seeking the kingdom of heaven and doing what is necessary to receive it.  HERE we have one living IN the kingdom and willing to pay the price to obtain it in the end.

                                                 ii.      Rejoice and be exceedingly glad – we have addressed rejoicing rather extensively in other lessons.  This is not just about being happy because everything is great.  This is rejoicing because you KNOW God is pleased with what you have done.  This is Paul and Silas singing and praying to God in a Philippian jail (Acts 16:25); This is the apostles leaving the council rejoicing that they have been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name… (Acts 5:40-41); This is Stephen preaching just as boldly against the corrupt leaders even as they are gathering stones to execute him, and as he is dying he prays that the Lord not charge them with the sin (Acts 7:59-60); AND a host of other examples throughout scripture. 
Consider 1 Peter 4:14 – reproached for the name of Christ, “On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

                                                iii.      Great is your reward in heaven – is this not what it is all about?  Is this not the reason we are willing to suffer as we are called upon to do?  1 Peter 1:3-5 speaks of our inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven;  Romans 8:18 – the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…
2 Corinthians 4:17 – this is the “light affliction which is but for a moment.” 


In this life, serving God comes with a high price – putting Him first.  It is not always easy, and sometimes it is painful.  But consider that no matter what you have to endure in this life, you won’t be in heaven 5 seconds before you will say that it was worth it and more. 

A gospel preacher once said, “If you miss heaven, you miss all there is.”  Another added to it, “When we gain our great reward in heaven, we have gained it all.”[1]

And thus we conclude our study of the Beatitudes.  Do you want to experience TRUE blessing in this life?  It only comes with a humble surrender that leads to a saving relationship with our Lord.  So considering all these things – are you truly blessed?  If not, how can we help you?  Think about it! 

[1] Crozier, Edwin.  The Gospel of the Kingdom.  Deward Publishing Company, Chillicothe, OH. © 2017, Pg. 128