The intention of Jesus as He preaches the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 to 7, is to hit hard. No one then and no one today can walk away from this teaching and not have had the finger of God pointed towards them. No one! As the beatitudes progress in chapter 5, they reveal more and more and deeper and deeper what true Christianity is all about. On the one side of that invisible line is the world of evil (call it pleasure, luxury and hedonism), and on the other side of that line is God, His Gospel and His holy requirements. By now, each one reading these notes knows for certain which side of that line they stand. A sadist is a person who enjoys and experiences pleasure in seeing others suffering pain and persecution. They enjoy cruelty and seek opportunities to induce suffering upon others. The opposite of a sadist is called a masochist. This is one who derives pleasure from pain through getting hurt. Some people even find pleasure in being emotionally abused. Today we conclude the eighth Beatitude understanding that neither a sadist nor a masochist is what this Beatitude is speaking about, as it continues:
Mt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Remember the word “blessed” refers to God congratulating the believer for being solidly Christian and adhering to the Gospel’s requirements faithfully.
1) Jesus does not want you to be a hero. The Christian does not go our looking for trouble or provoking people to treat them badly. That would be sinful, uncalled for and unnecessary. In the verses that follow the Beatitudes we are told to be salt and light. That is the direct opposite of provoking the lost world to anger purposefully.
2) Jesus is pleasured when you are faithful to the Biblical message. Verse 11 ends with these words … because of me. A Christian lives for Jesus and seeks to be like Jesus in all shapes of behavior, including morals and ethics. As you live intentionally for Jesus, suffering will come to you. You can rest assured you will suffer for Jesus when you live for Jesus. The world hates it when you refuse to live in their sinful lifestyle mode. Let me give you an example … you can decide whether tobacco use is a sin or not … but say it is, have you noticed when walking past a person smoking, because the stench is revolting, you cover your nose. The response it nothing short of anger! Take it further to lies, theft, adultery, abuse … should this be in a marriage, the guilty party will respond in anger and maybe even be violent. So here is the Christian, living in society … living for Jesus by refusing to participate in sin as far as possible. Living in society by sharing the gospel. Living in society by calling people to the Cross and Salvation. Living in society and refusing to do underhanded business at work, with insurance claims, the Revenue Department or in marriage. Rest assured such a person will suffer! The shape of hardship experienced is:
(1) Being insulted … when people insult you. You will be sworn at, shouted at, humiliated, called all sorts of names … but remember Jesus was a recipient of these too.
(2) You will be persecuted … when people persecute you. You might be harassed, molested or the object of trouble … unjustly so. Never forget it is Jesus in you that they hate. You are His and so they target you.
(3) Accusations of false, evil conduct … falsely say all kinds of evil against you. The word “falsely” means “to deceive by a lie”, “to lie to” or “to lie against one”. The word “evil” carries a consciousness of wickedness. When people speak “falsely” against you to others, they know they are not telling the truth … they know they have an evil heart. Never forget Jesus’ words about the devil. In Him rebuking those who rejected His claims, He says:
Jn 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Those who lie consciously are serving their father, the devil! When you are treated like this, irrespective how painful you suffer, you are experiencing this because you love, follow and serve Jesus!
3) Jesus wants you to be happy when you suffer. In fact, He says Rejoice and be glad. It is unlikely that most of us will suffer as much as the apostles did
Ac 5:41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
The happiness or rejoicing is because God counts you worthy to suffer for Him.
4) Jesus wants you to understand that earthly pleasure and gain cannot be compared to the bliss of heaven. Your focus must be heaven … because great is your reward in heaven. Jesus wants you to keep your eye on the prize of glory as you suffer. If you don’t you will be like the tightrope walker taking his eyes off the anchor point. You will fall!
5) Jesus wants you to know you are not alone in your struggles as a believer. You might be persecuted because of Jesus … but … in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. This refers to the Old Testament prophets … but the apostles and disciples were persecuted too. We are not alone in this! Read through Hebrews 11 … especially the last few verses and see how Old Testament people suffered for their faith. Read 1 Peter 1:6-7 and see how some early Christians suffered. We are not alone. Stand for Jesus and hardship will come your way … even from the most unexpected source. How do you respond to suffering, hardship, slander, persecution … especially when it is a lie:
Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
(Also Matthew 5:38-42).
Our Father, in ourselves we are weak and frail creatures. Daily we need Your help to live out our lives for You, Your Word and Your Cause. Grant us an extra portion of Your Holy Spirit, enabling us to stand firm for You in hard times so that You might be glorified. Amen.