Summary: Explains persecution for believers including why persecution is a blessing!
Blessed are the Persecuted
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute 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.
I. The surety of persecution:
Jesus says â€œwhenâ€ you are insulted and persecutedâ€¦
A. Those who identify with Christâ€”in name, and more importantly, in lifestyle will be guaranteed to receive the same kind of rejection and persecution that he received.
Matthew 24:9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
John 15:20-21 Remember the words I spoke to you: `No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
B. By following Christ, we cannot expect popularity and good treatment by the world. We cannot expect that the world will accept us. That is why Jesus said:
Luke 14:27,28 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?
C. Our persecution is not for something we have done wrong. It is merely because of our identification with Christ.
1 Peter 4:15,16 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
II. The forms of persecution.
A. Societal persecution:
1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
John 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
The world persecutes usâ€”because they donâ€™t understand us. The true Christian way goes against the very sinful nature of manâ€”and the societies of sinful man.
B. Friend persecution: Some of our friends may be â€œof the worldâ€ â€“in which case we cannot expect them to accept us.
C. Family persecution: Even our family members of the world will persecute us.
Matthew 10:21, 22 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
D. Persecution will take many different forms: from outright rejection, attempts to manipulate and control, looking down on you, making jokes about you, withholding things from you, etc.
III. The response to persecution.
A. We donâ€™t need to be gluttons for punishment.
Matthew 10:23a When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
B. We must pray for those who persecute us.
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
This is what Jesus did. He wept for Jerusalemâ€”although he knew she was about to kill him. He prayed â€œfather forgive them.â€
C. We must stand strong amid persecution.
Matthew 10:37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
We cannot give into persecutionâ€”allowing it to bring us to compromise.
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego; Daniel
D. We ought to rejoice in persecution.
Luke 6:22,23a Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
Persecution is a blessing!
IV. The blessing of persecution: It may seem strange to call persecution a blessingâ€”but it is a blessing!
A. Persecution is a blessing, because it identifies us with Christ.
Philippians 3:10,11 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
By identifying with Christ in his sufferings, we are able to attain true lifeâ€”it is by this identification with the suffering, that we too attain the victory of the Resurrection.
2 Corinthians 4:9-11 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.