10-08-17 The Beatitudes.jpg


Kingdom Living

Suffering Perspective - Persecution

Matthew 5:10-12

November 5, 2017


This is the fifth in our series of messages on the eight Beatitudes that Jesus began his famous “Sermon on the Mount” with in Matthew 5.  The Beatitudes are eight dispositions, attitudes, or temperaments of kingdom living.  Jesus tells us that as Kingdom citizens, or we could say, born-again believers, begin to see these dispositions develop in their lives that they are happy people and not just happy, but the source of their happiness is found in their relationship with God.  It is divine joy, supreme bliss, transcendent happiness.

We have looked at seven of these dispositions so far.

~ Poor in Spirit – Emptied of Self (v. 3)

This means that we are emptied of self and we are begging God to fill us.  It is a removal of pride and seeing ourselves as destitute without Christ

~ Mourning – Repentant (v. 4)

This is a grief, sadness, or sorrow over sin in our lives.  It is the picture of repentance.

~ Meek – Power Under Control (v. 5)

Meekness is having great power, but it is under control.  There is supreme bliss for the kingdom citizen when meekness is a developing disposition in their lives.

~ Hunger and Thirst – Desire and Pursuit (v. 6)

Divine joy is available for the person who feeds on God’s Word and nourishes their spirit with the nutrients of God’s wisdom.

~ Merciful – Withholding what is Deserved (v. 7)

When we withhold the bad that someone deserves to get, there is joy.

~ Peacemakers – Quiet Rest in the midst of Conflict (v. 9)

As ambassadors of God’s peace, being a witness and testimony of what real peace looks like, or as reconcilers for peace with God we mediate peace attempting to draw others to God’s peace.  There is happiness in this.

~ Pure In Heart – A Reflection of God (v. 8)

Purity of heart is what motivates you to do the things you do.  How you process your thoughts about something.  How your desires and rationale align with God’s will for you.  Purity of heart means you put one thing above everything else in your life, your love and your relationship with the Lord.

Let’s read our passage in Matthew 5 once again as we prepare to look at the eighth and final Beatitude.

Matthew 5:3-16 ESV

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The final Beatitude is stated in verse 10-12, “Blessed are the . . .”

~ Persecuted – A Suffering Perspective (v. 10-12)

Did you notice that two times in these 3 verses it refers to the persecuted as “blessed?”  Now some might try to make this into two different Beatitudes because of that, but I see this as one Beatitude with double the blessing.

What does it mean when it says the persecuted are blessed?  I am not sure we can truly get a clear picture of this in our minds in our western culture because the persecution we experience is minimal.  The word “persecuted” is a perfect passive participle, which simply means that the action being described is a past completed action with a continuing future state of being.  The focus of the participle is on the continuing state of being.  So, the persecution is a past act of persecution that has a continual state of persecution the extends as a state of being into the future.  Happy people are persecuted, and they continue to be persecuted!

Truly this goes against everything we believe about happiness.  Let’s take a look at some of the words used here, maybe we are missing something, because this does not seem like something to be happy about.  The Greek word for “persecute” in verse 10 is διώκω which refers “those who pursue with hostility, to threaten a person’s life, to drive or chase away, or put to flight.  The Greek word for “revile” in verse 11 is ὀνειδίζω and it means to abuse verbally with shame, insults, mockery, or reproach.

Notice the reason for persecution and reviling.  Verse 10 says that the persecution Jesus is talking about is that which occurs “for righteousness sake.”  Verse 11 says that the reviling He is talking about is happening because of Him, because of Jesus.  They say things against us because of what we believe about Jesus.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but we should never suffer persecution because of our arrogance, pride, evil doing, etc.  I say that simply because we should only suffer persecution for the glory of Christ, never for the glory of self.

Can I summarize these two verses like this?  Verse 10: Jesus said that Kingdom citizens are happy, filled with divine joy even as others chase after them in a hostile manner because they live in such a way that depicts the righteousness of God.  And they live that way because they are citizens of the heavenly Kingdom.  Then in verse 11 Jesus moves to second person talking directly to us, He says to us directly: In fact, you will have supreme happiness when others say hateful and insulting remarks against you and chase after you in hostility and falsely proclaim that you are evil because of your belief in me.

Wow!  Then Jesus gives us some powerful encouragement in verse 12.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you

Three things I want us to see in this suffering perspective:

1) Persecution is inevitable.

Why do I say this?  Jesus suffered.  As followers of Jesus, we will suffer also.  Jesus said, look back at the prophets before you.  They were persecuted for giving God’s message to the people; they suffered many things because they stood for righteousness.  Then when Jesus came to earth He suffered horribly at the hands of mankind.  So, doesn’t it seem logical that we would suffer?  In fact, if we don’t suffer for our belief in Jesus, maybe we need to examine why.

1 Peter 4 tells us that we should share in His sufferings.  1 Peter 4:13-16

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

For the believer, Peter tells us we should never suffer for doing wrong, but when we suffer for the name of Christ, we share in His sufferings.  And Peter makes it clear that this is not “if” you suffer persecution, but “when” you suffer persecution.  In other words, as a believer, you will suffer.  Back in Matthew 5, Jesus is telling this crowd on the hillside above the Sea of Galilee, His disciples, and even you and me, that persecution is inevitable.


2) Persecution is allowed by God.

 Sometimes we have the false impression that because we are saved children of our Heavenly Father that we will not suffer persecution . . . that surely He will not allow bad things to happen to such good Christian people as ourselves.  But quite the opposite is true.  God has purpose for persecution.  Persecution refines us and makes us more usable for Him.  Persecution empowers our witness to others.  When unbelievers see that we don’t falter in what we believe no matter what happens to us, many will begin to see the power of God in our lives.  Persecution directs the attention of people to glory to God.  Our persecution becomes the stage of God’s triumph.  Thus, persecution is allowed by God.

Romans 8:35-37

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

So, persecution is not only inevitable, but it is allowed by God because He is demonstrating to the world that our victory is found in our relationship with our Lord.


3) Persecution brings reward.

Verse 12 of Matthew 5, tells us that great is our reward in heaven when we experience persecution. The Apostle Paul said something about his persecution that is similar to this.

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I recently spoke for the memorial service for Daisy Manders from Revelation 14:13 where we are told that our deeds will follow us into glory.  In other words, there is reward for how we respond to the persecution that happens to us.  Persecution brings reward.

Now, I have referred to this Beatitude as our suffering perspective.  The reason I say that is because I wonder if we have the wrong perspective when it comes to persecution.  Jesus tells us that we experience divine joy when we suffer persecution.  Peter tells us to rejoice when we share Christ’s sufferings.  Paul tells us that we are conquerors when we experience persecution.  Then Paul tells the Corinthians to not to lose heart in this momentary affliction for the reward is great.  What is our perspective when it comes to suffering?

Do we see persecution as something to avoid at all costs?  Do we look for ways to compromise our faith in order to get along with the world?  We know that we should not seek to be an offense to others, but do we keep quiet because we fear we might offend someone; that we might experience persecution?

We should suffer persecution when we stand for the glory of our Lord and our faith in Him.  We should be strengthened and find joy in the fact that others notice our difference, even if they don’t like us because of it.  We need to remember that nothing can touch us that has not passed through our Father’s hands.  When we suffer, God has allowed it and He has purpose in it.

So, what is your perspective about suffering?  If we fear and avoid suffering we need to ask ourselves, “Is my ultimate allegiance to my Savior . . . or self-preservation?”  How intense is my love and loyalty to the One who suffered so horribly for me?

The Suffering of our Savior

Though the Garden of Gethsemane was not the beginning of Jesus’ persecution and suffering, it is the place where the stress was so great on Him that His capillaries burst mixing blood with His sweat.  After His arrest, soldiers struck Jesus across the face, blindfolded Him, mocked Him, taunted Him, and spat upon Him.

Later, Jesus was stripped of His clothes and with hands tied above His head on a post He was scourged with a whip designed to rip furrows into His flesh.  After Jesus was untied He slumped to the ground in a pool of His own blood only to be crowned with a wreath of thorns to mock Him as King.

All of this was only a sampling of what He would endure on the cross as every breathe was filled with excruciating pain.  Once again mocked as the King of the Jews and the Son of God, Jesus still showed His compassion for the people as He asked for forgiveness for them.  Jesus died, not from suffocation . . . as the cross death was designed to do . . . but of heart failure due to the constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium producing blood mixed with water when they pierced His side.  Jesus suffered persecution, physical suffering, and death that we might live free from sin with Him for eternity.

In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the disciples were preaching Jesus everywhere.  Many were being put in prison, but an angel of the Lord released them during the night and once again they were charged not to stop teaching about this Jesus.  Do you remember Peter’s reply?  “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).  The Council was enraged and beat them.  But listen to what their attitude was about this persecution they received.

Acts 5:40-42

40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.


Are we persecuted, reviled, taunted, and mocked?  If and when you are persecuted, do you consider it a joy and privilege to endure this suffering for His name’s sake?

10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What is your suffering perspective?  Do you avoid at all costs, or take joy in sharing in His sufferings?