Truth And Consequences (Mt 5:10-12)

NOTE: This is the manuscript I took into the pulpit this past Sunday. Not meant as anything other than notes for me in delivery.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you & persecute you & utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice & be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

Why Mt 5:10-11 today? (Its next). Who is this message for? (Me). Reminder: Jesus is describing the character of His followers, not how to be a follower of Him.

Again: How many of us have asked God to bless us… or family… or friends? We all have. Mt 5:3-12 catalogues GOD’S blessings for those who follow His Son. Now in 5:10-12 the greatest blessing is presented… “GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN.”

The last beatitude is a transition between vss 3-9 and 5:13 to 7:24. Jesus always spoke truth. Regardless of consequences, Jesus always said what glorified God. Consequences? YES!

Many followed Him. Others turned away. Some hated him. Eventually he was arrested, crucified, as were many others. Jesus tells those listening if their character is what He describes, there will be consequences of hardship, difficulty, trials, and sometimes death.

Listen carefully. When you follow Christ EXPECT hardship, difficulty, tribulation, trials and greater blessings than you’ve ever known. Listen to a similar passage from Mk 10:29

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake & for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses & brothers & sisters & mothers & children & lands, with persecutions, & in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Jesus sets forth the benefits of following Him in this life. This is NOT literal! There is NOT health and wealth for following Jesus. Rather it means following Christ is 100x the value of what we lose or leave behind. In what way?…

Forgiveness of sin… God’s love… a clear conscience… strength in trials… Christian friends and family closer than blood relatives. Then there is eternal life with God in heaven. (PAUSE) Yet note Jesus quickly adds “And persecutions” so that people at least hear temporal blessings are tempered. {Barnes}

Jesus doesn’t hide the fact that WITH blessings there will be trials. Many, if not most people, want the crown but not the cross. Truth is, without the cross there is no crown

But how is suffering a blessing? How can trials be something to rejoice in? GOD works it in the heart of ALL believers! As we pray… seek His face… read His Word… and believe Him, He conforms us to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29)! It is the God ordained result of “denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following Him” (Lk 9:23). Listen to two passages from Acts…

5:40 When they had called in the apostles, they beat them & charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, & let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

16:22 The crowd joined in attacking them, & the magistrates tore the garments off them & gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison & fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul & Silas were praying & singing hymns to God, & the prisoners were listening to them…

The Apostles rejoiced… REJOICED!… that God counted them WORTHY to suffer because of Jesus! What had happened to them? They were BEATEN! I’m sure along with the beatings they were being verbally berated with screams.

Paul and Silas were Dancing in The Dungeon so to speak! They had been stripped, beaten with rods, they received many blows, then THROWN into prison. And what were they doing afterward? Praying and singing hymns!! Let’s take a peek into Paul’s heart about all this… 2 Cor 4:8…

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight 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.

Phil 3:7 Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things & count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 & be found in Him… 10 that I may know Him & the power of His resurrection, & may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

The closer you are to Christ the more God works this kind of attitude in you. The more you will have a heavenly view of suffering for Jesus. The more you will rejoice in what is promised and is to come with Christ in heaven! The Spirit in you will so transform your heart you WILL be like Jesus (Paul too).

The REASON they were persecuted is of tremendous importance! I wasn’t because of a boycott. It wasn’t for posting on Facebook. I wasn’t for going to church either! It was because they were actively proclaiming the name of Jesus. They were telling people Jesus was “The way, The truth, and The life.” They were living holy lives for everyone to see for God’s glory!

We worry about safety… our reputation… or losing our job. Those things didn’t matter back then. Christians so loved and identified with those being persecuted this is written Heb 10:32…

Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, & you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession & an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Now let’s consider GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN. What is our “great reward?”

Our name was written in the Book of Life before creation (Rev 13:8; 17:8). Our sin is forgiven! We have Jesus’ perfect righteous holiness. Escorted by angles to heaven when we die (Lk 16:22). Upon our death, we’re comforted (Lk 16:25). Jesus will return for us (Jn 14:3). God rejoices to see us (Ps 116:15). We have a new body (1 Cor 15:42-44). We aren’t condemned with the rest of the world (Ro 8:1). Live in a place Jesus is preparing (Jn 14:2)… what is heaven like?! We reign w/ Christ (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 22:5). We are given a royal crown (2 Tim 4:8). And many things we can’t know (Jn 3:12).

So yes, “All who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus told us “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (1 Jn 15:20). But you know what? All those blessings were worth it to Jesus to give His life for us. And those who understand have Jesus’ attitude now… if we suffer, it is for God’s glory and ETERNALLY worth it!

How do I conclude? I guess the first question is this… Does it cost us because we’re Christians? Then… are we suffering as a result following Christ? And if the answers are no… after much reflection… what does that mean? (Pause) I suggest getting alone with God and asking HIM to reveal His will…

As Peter the Apostle wrote in 1 Peter 4:12

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 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.

Picture Credit