This is the sermon for Sunday, November 20th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 12

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 3

Persecution and happiness.

Introduction

We are continuing in the portion of Matthew that is called, “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This is Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7.  We are calling this portion of the sermon found in chapter 5 of Matthew, “the great Rabbi’s sermon.”  For Jesus is teaching this as a Jewish Rabbi would teach the people.

As a reminder to help us in our interpretation of these passages, we have seen that the total theme of this sermon is that Jesus is teaching the people as a Jewish Rabbi; he is revealing that the Jews are unable to keep the Law and also that true right standing (righteousness) with God is found in the King and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now last time we saw that Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man.  This is seen in seeking after God and His righteousness and being merciful to fellow sinners.

Let’s finish up the beatitude portion of this sermon by looking into verses 10-12 in our text.

Divinely given happiness is found in the midst of persecution.

Matthew 5:10-12 – 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.

We are blessed when we are persecuted because of righteousness.

When we are persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, we are in good company.  There are many, many throughout the Scriptures and church history that were persecuted because of the Scriptures and their stand for them.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures here this morning that speak concerning persecution.

James 5:10-11 – 10As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

What an example we have from the Scriptures.  The prophets faced persecution because they spoke in the name of the Lord; yet they were blessed because they persevered.

Job also persevered in the midst of great trials and the persecution of his closet friends, and yet the Lord was compassionate and merciful.

When facing persecution, don’t give up, but persevere.  God is gracious and compassionate.  And in the midst of the persecution what sustains us is His mercy and compassion.

1 Peter 4:12-14 – 12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But 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.

According to Peter, we are not to be surprised at the persecutions and sufferings we face.  But our joy is that His glory will be revealed, and in the midst of being insulted, we are blessed because God’s Spirit rests on us.

Now let’s look at the types of persecution listed here in our Scripture text.

Reviling.

It’s the Greek word ονειδιζο (on-i-did’-zo).  It means, “ to speak abusively, to criticize openly, to reproach, undeserved reproach.”  These of course are harsh words, said to injure the reputation.

Persecute.

Greek word διοκο (dee-o’-ko).  It means, “to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away, to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after, in any way whatever to harass, trouble,  to molest, to slap in the face.”  This is the more physical violent type of persecution.

Uttering all kinds of evil falsely.

This of course is the full blown lie to ruin a reputation.

What should be our response when these occur?

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

We should rejoice.  Why?  Because we are in great company.  There were many who came before us and had to endure the same thing.  It is an encouraging truth to know that we are not alone.  We can learn from the faith of those who have gone before us.

Conclusion

As we conclude this morning, let me state that the reality is we are going to be persecuted for our faith.  Some will insult us, try to be violent toward us, and even lie to ruin our reputation.  But our God is with us because in Christ we have already overcome all the power of the enemy.  Stand strong and persevere during persecution.

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