In the opening verses of Matthew 5, the crowds were approaching Jesus and His disciples. Jesus knew that the temptation was going to be there for His disciples to get caught up in the notoriety of being part of His entourage. Jesus calls his disciples aside and sits down with them, meaning that what comes next is meant only for them and not the crowds.
Then Jesus took the opportunity to name some distinguishing marks by which they could confidently build an assurance that they were indeed blessed by God. His teachings have become known as The Beatitudes. The word “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin word for blessing. It means fortunate, happy, or blessed.
Unlike the world’s thought of Divine blessing as being evidenced in a person’s fame, fortune, success, popularity, or influence, Jesus gives eight signs by which they could discern the presence of divine favor in their life. The first seven are character traits and the last is the world’s common reaction to that person.
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:1-10, NIV).
These ten verses are packed with spiritual treasure.
Jeremiah Boroughs, one of the great English Puritans in the 17th century, once gave a sermon series on the Beatitudes called The Saint’s Happiness. It went 42 weeks. I want to focus in on just one of these power packed verses, verse 9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
“Peacemakers” in this passage can be justly taken in either of two ways:
Making peace between God and man. At the core of God’s love is peacemaking. This is what the gospel is all about. The great work of the Church is to declare God’s grace to the world so that more and more people might come to peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We do that by being a witness to God’s love by our actions, through our relationships, and by telling people the good news about Jesus Christ.
We need to be a church that is full of excited and eager witnesses to the glory of God. That is the reason we are given the Holy Spirit, so that we can be effective witnesses. Jesus said this very clearly in Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses. And again in Matthew 28:19 where Jesus says, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.
We have to be witnesses because that is the normal way God has chosen to use to bring people into faith in Jesus Christ. Faith comes by hearing. Like Paul said in Romans 10:14-15,
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
- Making peace between one another. Matthew Henry explained it like this, “They [peacemakers] keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken.” The peace we have with God overflows into our relationships with one another. As the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37-39 teaches that our love for God becomes a spring of love for our neighbor, our peace with God becomes a spring that makes us pursue peace with our neighbor.
In preparing for this series of posts, I read over Jeremiah Borough’s sermons in The Saint’s Happiness on this verse. One of the insights he had into this verse was a parallel he saw between the Beatitudes and the seven detestable sins in Proverbs 6:16-19. What he noticed was this: the first seven Beatitudes were the counter to the seven deadly sins.
|Proverbs 6:16-19 Seven Sins
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
Matthew 5:1-10 Beatitudes
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
|haughty eyes,||Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.|
|a lying tongue,||Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.|
|a heart that devises wicked schemes,||Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.|
|hands that shed innocent blood,||Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.|
|feet that are quick to rush into evil,||Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.|
|a false witness who pours out lies||Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.|
|and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.||Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.|
What a interesting parallel these two passages are. I don’t think Boroughs was imagining things here, especially when you look at the seventh thing the Lord hates, a man who stirs up dissension among his brothers, and the seventh Beatitude: blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.