Have you ever had to share some vital pieces of information with somebody with the goal of setting proper expectations for the experience ahead? Sometimes this can work against you, like when I told my oldest boy prior to taking off a band aid, “Son, this is really going to hurt…” Then for the next 10 minutes, I was chasing him around the house! Then other times, setting expectations is really helpful. For instance, my friend Joel told me at the shooting range one day, “Hey man, when you shoot this pistol, it has a shorter barrel and grip – so be prepared, its going to be snappy at first until you get used to it.” Whatever it may be, when we care for people we want to make sure they are prepared for what is coming.
This is where we find ourselves in this week’s passage, it begins this way, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). If you have been following the sermon series, Andy’s sermon last week was on the verse prior, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (5:9). What is Jesus up to in his shift from peace to persecution? D.A. Carson answers this way, “. . .for the world enjoys its cherished hates and prejudices so much that the peacemaker is not always welcome.” What Jesus is doing is displaying some of his infinite care for us by setting the expectation up front that being a Christian means you will be persecuted.
I want to challenge you to meditate on Christ’s love shown to you today. See how he doesn’t just try to “close the sale” with a get rich quick scheme. His words are rooted in reality. This message comes from the lips of One who knows well what its like “. . .when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely. . .” (5:11). In light of what Christ suffered for us, may we be a people who are prepared to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake (cf. Acts 5:41).
Mr. Daniel Ray, Guest Speaker