Passage – Matthew 5:10-12
As we prepare of Sunday morning take sometime to think about the different persecutions are happening in the world.
Check out the Open Doors website for information on the persecuted church, http://www.opendoorsuk.org.
Read John 15:18-21, consider the challenge and encouragement of these verses along with our passage for Sunday.
Engage & Extend
This morning we are going to see what Jesus is saying about persecution.
Like Stephen have you ever had an unease about the repetition in these verses and wonder if Jesus was saying something more?
Knowing what we do about Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees, what do you think the ordinary persons experience of religion was like?
Two different types of persecution.
First in verse 10.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The New International Version Application Commentary says this:
This implicates once again the religious leadership of Jesus’ day, who persecuted those who did not adopt their particular brand of righteousness.
Persecution can take the form of physical or verbal abuse, or both, but it especially points to the way that the religious leaders hounded the populace and excluded from their fellowship any who did not meet up to their standards (cf. Luke 6:22; Matt. 23:34).
What do you think of this explanation?
Read Matthew 23:27&28 and Luke 20:45-47, what does this say about the Pharisees?
Why do you think Jesus connects this to the first Beatitude?
Discuss this statement by Stephen, “When the church reads this beatitude we make it about us, what if we have it the wrong way around and we are the one persecuting with our attitudes, customs and traditions.”
This is a very difficult area for us to consider. How can our traditions, attitudes and rules feel like persecution to others? How can we seek forgiveness and seek to do things differently?
As Jesus looked at these people can you imagine how his heart broke for them, and he said, you, even you who have had a really bad experience with churchy people, feeling left out, can be blessed because I have come to give you the way to the kingdom of heaven so repent and believe.
Pray asking God for a heart like Jesus.
Second in verse 11 & 12.
Matthew 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.
Here Jesus changes things and says, “you.” This is about the persecution we as followers of Jesus will face.
Jesus was preparing his disciples for the reality on living a repentant life as a member of the kingdom of heaven.
The Christian life is so radically different to living any other way, different values, goals and purpose. And as we live it we will face opposition:
How are our values, goals and purpose different?
In what areas do we face serious opposition?
We are to expect it
Read and discuss John 15:18-21. What can we learn here?
We are to use it
Read and discuss Luke 12:11. Think about the life of Paul and how he used his persecution. What can we learn here?
We have the hope of heaven
How does this encourage you?
Here we find encouragement and blessing as we express our faith in a hostile world.