Summary: Why are the righteous persecuted, and why does Jesus say for us to rejoice when it happens to us? Link included to formatted text version, as well as part 1 and it’s matching PowerPoint.
A ‘Peace’ in the Puzzle, pt. 2
The Gospel of Jesus
When we are a peacemaker, we are eliminating strife. Tonite, we need to learn how to endure spite. This is the ‘puzzle’ in our title.
This sermon on the mount is the greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest preacher who ever lived. And this is our 4th message on His message, w/ several more to go as we continue thru the end of chapter 7, looking at the salt and light and so much more from this wonderful sermon. Now the 8th and final beatitude:
v. 10 What an amazing, astounding, and unexpected statement from the lips of Christ. Why in the world would Jesus associate the ultimate sense of happiness and joy w/ persecution? We aren’t used to thinking this way, and yet Jesus said ‘Blessed’ = ‘congratulations’, it’s a great compliment to you when you are persecuted!
All of these beatitudes have really made us look at ourselves openly and ask, am I really empty, truly broken, am I under God’s control in meekness, do I have these new attitudes toward God, others, and myself, and am I truly a peacemaker? These have been very searching, but this one tonite is the most searching!
Why are the righteous persecuted? Have I ever truly been? If not, why not? And if so, then how did I respond? Did I rejoice and find motivation in it, or did the devil get His way and did I succumb to the temptation to become discouraged and clam up in the future? Did I retaliate and get resentful?
This is not only a very searching beatitude, but a very misunderstood one. Let’s approach this subject w/ great care.
This teaching about persecution is laced throughout your Bible, from OT times to these gospels, throughout the epistles and on into Revelation.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
2 Tim. 3:11-12
Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; …  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
Throughout the history of the Church there has been great persecution.
It all began with Christ and His sufferings, and then His disciples as they began the early church in Acts.
There was the 10 great persecutions from AD 100-300, where Christians gathered from all over the known world were thrown to the lions in the coliseum. Nero had Christians wrapped in animal skins and smeared w/ their bloody scent so they would be attacked even more ferociously. Then he lit his garden at night w/ Christians wearing robes dipped in wax! Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells many more tells of those pulled apart on the rack, boiled in oil, flayed alive, or roasted on a gridiron…and much more too gruesome to go into.
Christians were forced to flee to the catacombs in Rome to get away from the persecutions. An estimated 2-4 million died there over a period of 300 years.
During the dark ages an estimated 50 million Christians died for their faith. Many of those were killed for ‘protesting’ the heresy of the Catholic Church during the “Holy Wars” and conquests.
When the communists seized China it was about 1 million Christians who were slaughtered. Yet the house churches are thriving today, even in the face of death if caught. Bibles are still being confiscated.
Russian believer Richard Wurmbrand is a good example of persecution under communism. This man was held underground in complete darkness for 3 years, brainwashed w/ communist and anti-Christian propaganda, beaten and tortured. He tells of being force fed salt, and given no water for hours afterward. And in a mockery of the Lord’s supper guards made him eat his own feces saying ‘Take, eat, this is my body.” Then they would do likewise w/ his urine as the blood of Christ.