Summary: Part 7 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This part considers blessedness in persecution and insults.
Part 7 - Beatitudes – The Persecuted and Insulted
Sermon on the Mount
The Christian Character
(Cf. Luke 6:20-49)
This is Part 7 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This part considers blessing in bearing persecution and insults for righteousness' sake.
The 14 parts are as follows:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit
Part 3 - Beatitudes – those who mourn
Part 4 - Beatitudes – the meek, and those who hunger and thirst
Part 5 - Beatitudes – the merciful and the pure in heart
Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers
Part 7 - Beatitudes – the persecuted and insulted
Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world
Part 9 - Righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees; divorce, oaths
Part 10 - Eye for eye, loving neighbor and hating enemy, being perfect
Part 11 - Three things to do, not to be seen by men and a model prayer
Part 12 - Laying up treasures, eye is the lamp of the body, serving two masters
Part 13 - Do not judge, do not give what is holy to dogs and pigs
Part 14 - Ask, seek, and knock; the narrow gate; false prophets; building on the rock
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In the last part we had been talking about the 7th beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (or children) of God.”
Then we talked about what a remarkable and marvelous thing it is to be called “children of God.”
In 1873 Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company introduced the Peacemaker – a 6-shot 45 caliber revolver that for many years was popular with both lawmen and outlaws. I don’t know how it came to wear the name “Peacemaker,” but it brings a question to mind.
Google dictionary defines “peace officer” as a civil officer appointed to preserve law and order, such as a sheriff or police officer.
Last week Mike, recently retired from being a policeman before moving to Montrose shared some insights from his experience. While Mike went into every disturbance call armed with a weapon, firing his weapon was not means by which the peace was sought.
Mike’s training and experience taught him some basics in making peace between quarreling parties. First, first keep a cool head and don’t become a party to the dispute. Separate the quarreling parties and let them each talk out their frustrations and anger with no interruptions or retaliation from the other disputant. Usually the quarrelers calm down and tempers flare out, allowing them to come together in a more constructive manner.
End of review
Jesus concludes the beatitudes with this two-part teaching. In Matthew 5:11-12 he says we are blessed if we are persecuted and insulted because of righteousness.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN PEOPLE INSULT YOU, PERSECUTE YOU AND FALSELY SAY ALL KINDS OF EVIL AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF ME. REJOICE AND BE GLAD, BECAUSE GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN, FOR IN THE SAME WAY THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU. (Matt 5:10-12)
We will take these last two beatitudes as a pair, because they are tightly coupled. It is conceivable that in Jesus’ mind, v10-12 may be a single beatitude, with v11-12 being an elaboration on v10. But it doesn’t really matter whether we consider this teaching as one or two beatitudes. What matters is that we stretch our minds to grasp the reality of what Jesus said, and accept fully that it is true.
This beatitude (or beatitudes) is different from the rest. All the others pronounce blessedness to be the outgrowth of various qualities or attributes of a Christian. We are in direct control of the those, but in contrast, this pair of statements describe false testimony and persecution that occur at the choosing of other people. Let us understand the scope of Jesus’ meaning. It is not everyone who endures persecution or bears insults who is blessed, but those whose persecution is “because of righteousness (v10),” or “because of me (v11).”
1 Pet 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. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
This beatitude is a hard saying. What Jesus said sounds awful! Jesus actually told his disciples to expect persecution. It was to be the norm, as Jesus explained in Mark 13:9-13. (Read it.)