Summary: Sermon 7 in a study in the Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
We have already observed in this study that when we pay careful attention to the things Jesus says we often find that He says quite the opposite of what we would expect anyone to say, and quite often He says the opposite of what we would want to hear.
If a student of the Bible in any of the various settings available for sitting at the feet of Jesus, so to speak, finds himself or herself going for any notable length of time being comfortable and largely unchallenged and unconvicted as pertains to his or her own spiritual walk and growth, one of two things is happening.
Either they are deadened to the voice of the Spirit by a lack of concern for spiritual things and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, or they are subjecting themselves to an environment where, whatever the claims of the teacher before them, they are not truly hearing the whole counsel of God’s Word being brought to them.
Whichever of these two scenarios exists, something needs to change.
Because when Jesus speaks He brings light to dispel darkness, He exposes the backward condition of a world in rebellion against its Creator, and He expounds truth in such a way as to make it impossible to cling to the little lies we tell ourselves that we are really ok and not such bad sorts and now that we are Christians we’ve got it all together and it’s clear sailing from here on out.
When Jesus speaks to the human spirit and His Word is truly being taught, people will get up and run, or they will harden themselves one more time to what the Holy Spirit is wanting to do in their lives and that is a very dangerous thing to do, or they will bow in humble submission to the process of sanctification and they will be blessed.
If you sit under anyone’s teaching for a time and never feel challenged or convicted inwardly by God’s Spirit, search your own heart first. Ask God to reveal your heart to you. Then if you are confident that you are truly hungry for God’s Word and desirous of being made more like Jesus, then get up and leave for your own good. Find a place and a teacher who will feed you the broccoli as well as the peaches.
I say all of this to prepare you, because today we have before us a big plate of broccoli. And if I can find any cheese sauce to put on it I will, but underneath will be broccoli nonetheless.
I did not want you to be taken by surprise, although if you’ve read these verses in advance and given them any thought at all, you should have seen it coming.
Now everything Jesus has described the Christian to be thus far has been just the reverse of what the world would think a man should be.
I don’t have to go back over them again now; we’ve said it several times. If you have not been a part of this study up to this point you only need go back to the beginning of chapter 5 of Matthew and read verses 1 through 9 and I’m confident you will agree that the Christian is fundamentally very different, according to this description, from those who are not Christians.
At no point though is it made clearer that the Christian is unlike the person still belonging to the world than what Jesus has to say next. I say the difference is made clear, but understanding just what defines that difference is not necessarily clear.
In fact as I observe the actions of church people that are demonstrated over the news media, or in magazine articles, or come to my ears through the witness of others, or sometimes just stop and analyze my own thinking and knee-jerk reactions to things, I have to conclude that there is a great deal of misunderstanding of Matthew 5:10-12.
We’ll probably spend as much time today talking about what Jesus did not mean in these verses as what He did mean.
Right out of the gate, let’s notice the past tense of this beatitude. In every one Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are”… something.
Now He says “Blessed are those who have been…” So the first thing we can assure ourselves of is that we don’t have to be happy while we’re being persecuted.