The Happy ChristianMatthew 5:3-12Theme: Blessedness.This week’s lessons point us to Jesus who is the fountain of all happiness.
Lesson”Blessed are the peacemakers.” Not only do the followers of Christ find peace within through the pursuit of purity, they seek to promote peace with and among others also. Why? Because they are at peace themselves and know the blessing of it. The followers of Christ were formerly at war with God, and because they were at war with God they were also at war with others and themselves. Breaking the vertical relationship breaks horizontal ties. Now these followers of Jesus have peace. They did not make it. God made peace in them through Christ’s cross. Paul wrote, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace…” (Eph. 2:13-14). Having found a true and permanent peace with God, they now seek to establish and maintain a similar peace with others.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” The last of the beatitudes speaks of happiness in persecution. This is a blessedness Jesus elaborates upon, adding in verses 11 and 12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
At no point in the entire list of beatitudes is it more necessary to know precisely what Jesus says than here, for it is not just any kind of suffering that Jesus blesses. It is not persecution for wrongdoing; that should be obvious. It is not persecution for being fanatical, as some who profess the name of Christ have been. It is not persecution for being a nuisance; some believers have plagued their neighbors in an effort to witness to them and have been scorned for that. It is not even persecution for a cause, however important the cause may be. There is only one kind of persecution that comes to believers from being like the Lord Jesus Christ whom they are following. Verse 11 calls it persecution “because of me [that is, because of Jesus].” It is by being like him, and suffering for it in a world that hates Christ, that we find happiness.
How is this so? How can any persecution, even persecution of this nature, make one happy? It promotes our happiness because it shows that we are united to Christ, like that great host of saints, apostles, prophets, and martyrs who have gone before us, and that we are growing in Christ’s likeness. Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). Study Questions
How are those who follow Christ able to promote peace with others?
For what sort of persecution are believers promised blessing?
ApplicationHave you experienced persecution and loss because you follow Jesus? If not, you most likely will. Read John 15:19, asking God to prepare your heart for persecution.