BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED
INTRO: In His opening thrust in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concludes with a sobering truth: those who live righteously will be persecuted for it. Godliness will cause opposition and hostility from the world. There’s a price to pay for the Christian who does the will of God, but the reward is worth it!
I. Reasons for Persecution (vs. 10-11)
> If we live like Jesus, we will be persecuted.
- One in nine Christians worldwide will experience persecution (Voice of the Martyrs).
- There has been an increase in persecution.
- Islamic oppression is the main source of persecution.
> Some things are not persecution.
- There is a difference between persecution and punishment for something we’ve done.
- Maybe it is our response to people and situations.
- We are to respond with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
- We are not to be “bulls in a China closet.”
- We won’t win people to Christ through badgering.
- It isn’t persecution if we become fanatical.
- There are people who believe that only the people who have the same convictions as they have are going to heaven.
- It is possible to be zealous in the wrong way.
> What did Jesus mean by persecution because of righteousness?
- What is righteousness?
- Our righteousness is Jesus living within us.
- When we live as Jesus did, we will receive the same punishment.
- It is because of a righteous life.
- We are not to believe that everything will go our way by trying to live the Beatitudes.
- It doesn’t mean life will be easy.
- It is not scriptural to believe that we will never have a bad day when we are Christians.
- We are to die to ourselves and take up our cross daily.
- If people think we are “super" Christians, we need to be careful of falling into the sin of pride.
- It can be a long way to fall (Luke 6:26).
II. Responses to Persecution (v. 12)
> We need to respond rather than react.
- It is easy to react when people come against us.
- We want to retaliate.
- Some people will try to push us and make us frustrated to challenge us.
- When someone tries to rile us, “yank our chain,” when they yell and we come back with a soft answer, we honor God.
> Life is not about us; it is about living our lives for Christ.
- “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering…” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
- “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).
- “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10)
- Most of the apostles died gruesome deaths.
- We are to respond as Jesus did.
- He never retaliated.
- If we respond the way Jesus responded, we will be rewarded.
- Let’s remember to pray for the people in countries where persecution is happening now and pray also for their persecutors.
III. Rewards for Persecution (v. 12)
> There are several rewards listed throughout the Scriptures.
- “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (v. 11).
- “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (v. 12).
> We are already enjoying the kingdom of Christ here on earth.
- We have a God who watches over us.
- We are a child of the Kingdom.
- Jesus died for our salvation and also for the abundant life (John 10:10; Romans 5:17).
- God loves us and sees value in all of us (John 3:16).
CONCLUSION: Christians who suffer and endure persecution because of righteousness are promised the kingdom and heavenly rewards. Jesus tells us to “rejoice and be glad” when we’re being persecuted because “great is our reward in heaven.”