Page Four: “Blessed Are The Persecuted” 08/19/2012
Folks, your first concern must be whether or not you have the righteousness of God in your heart. You see, when you have a heart-connection to Jesus Christ, you find a personal and practical righteousness because your relationship to Him affects everything you do.
And your own spirit will speak directly to you. Do you attempt to justify yourself before men? Is your heart a heart of covetousness? Are you serving Mammon while you try to serve God?
The LORD is specific and He’s careful about this matter of righteousness, isn’t He? And here’s why. When you have God’s righteousness upon your life, you will be persecuted for righteous’ sake. And when you experience persecution because of your personal, practical, Jesus-connection righteousness, you will be blessed.
First, then, Jesus says you will be blessed when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
Second, Jesus gives two reasons why you should rejoice and be glad in the face of persecution. Look again with me at His words, verse twelve.
Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Jesus gives to us an example from the OT and a promise for the future as the reasons why you can rejoice in the face of persecution.
First, the OT prophets. God’s prophets were God’s spokesmen in days gone by. Now, folks, how were the prophets received by the Jews? And how were they perceived by those who heard them preach?
Here’s word the Scripture says.
In I Kings 18:13 we read the words of a man named Obadiah. “Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?...”
And the Prophet Elijah knew very well what the Jews often did to the prophets.
Here’s I Kings 19:10 “And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
And in the days of Nehemiah we find this.
Nehemiah 9:26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.”
And in the days before the captivity, we read exactly what the Jews did to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 26:23 “And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.”
And what did Jesus say about them. Matthew 23:30 “And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”
Matthew 24:9 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.”
Just like the prophets were rejected, despised, hated, and abused by the Jews, Jesus pointed out to His disciples that standing for righteousness could easily lead to outright persecution.