Open you Bibles to Matthew 5. We are continuing our exposition of Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount and today we find ourselves nearing the end of the well known, or perhaps not so well known, beatitudes. Let’s get right to work, and read the entire section of the beatitudes, and then look more closely at verse 9.
- Matthew 5:2-12 – “And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “
Before we get into the ins and outs of this verse, let us start with some sobering facts. In the interest of full disclosure, these facts are things that I have pulled off of the internet and I did not spend hours and hours attempting to confirm their veracity, so take them with a grain of salt.
In recorded history, there have been approximately 14,500 major wars fought on this planet. Over the last 3,400 years of human history, only 268 of those years have been without a major war. This is only 8 percent of the time. It is estimated there are currently 33 major wars being fought in 32 different countries. One of those wars grabbing headlines this month is Ukraine. I am sure that next month it will be someplace else. It is very difficult to calculate, but some people estimate that that almost four billion people have died directly related to a war.
If you were to define humanity, it would be hard not to characterize us as a people of war. Since time began, we have been fighting. It is just want we, as people do. I love the way 2 Samuel 11:1 puts it so nonchalantly:
- 2 Samuel 11:1 – “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war”
This reality of war is not exclusive to nation verses nation. War mentality permeates every culture that has ever existed throughout time. War within our communities. War within our schools. War within families. War within our marriages. War within our hearts. We are by nature inclined to fight. We are by nature adversarial. Why? Why is this the reality of humanity? Why do we hate each other so much?
- James 4:1-2 - “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
- Matthew 5:8 - “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”
- James 4:4 -”You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
And this war in our hearts continues to be waged until peace is achieved. The question is how. How can a peace accord between God and man be struck. Can we, as enemies against God achieve peace? Do we have the capacity to lay down our arms and to surrender to Him? Can all of our war crimes that we have committed against God be swept under the rug as if nothing happened? Turn with me to Colossians 1:19-22.
- Colossians 1:19-22 - “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
- Luke 2:14 - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" “
- Matthew 5:9 – “"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “
The same is true in verse 9. Peacemaking is not something that we prop up like a ladder and climb so as to get to heaven, by our effort. We can’t make ourselves into peacemakers. Being a peacemaker is evidence, or proof, that God has already come into our lives and transformed us. And not only has he come into our lives and transformed us, but he has also adopted us into His family, “For they shall be called the sons of God.”
What I believe Jesus is saying in this Beatitude is that if you are a peacemaker, then this is evidence that you are a chip off the old block, or that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We are acting just like our Father. When people see us making peace, they should see what we are doing and see our Father.
This should make total sense to us, should it not? When, by the grace of God, our eyes are opened, and we see our sin, and we recognize our need for Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord of our life, God’s Word tells us that the spirit of Christ, the Prince of Peace, comes and takes up residence in your heart. So we should say, “it is no longer I who live, but the Prince of Peace that lives within me.” Therefore it only makes sense that our life should be defined by our peacemaking, for Jesus’ life was.
Which leads us to the question? How does a peacemaking look in a Christians life? Let us do this by stating what it does not mean? A peacemaker is not passive. To by a peacemaker does not mean you are numb to the war around you. A peacemaker is not one who sticks there head in the sand and hopes the spiritual cannons quit firing. No, a peacemaker runs to the battle and lays down their life for the purpose of peace. We make peace. The only way to make peace is to jump in the trenches and take risk.
Once again, there is no better example of this than Jesus Christ. He did not apathetically watch as humanity continued to wage war against His Father. He obeyed the request of His dad, and took the form of man, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for us. This was not passive. Jesus not only threw himself in harms way, he threw himself in Gods way. We are to be like this, active in our peacemaking. God’s mission is our mission. We are to join Christ and go and make peace.
Some of you may know be saying, how can we make peace? Is peace something we can manufacture? We can promote peace. We can encourage of peace. We can be an example of peace, but make it? If you are familiar with the Bible, you know that this is not the only place in which Jesus tells his disciples to go and make something.
- Matthew 28:19-20 - “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
But it still leaves open the question, how do you make disciples? How do you make peace? I think the best way to understand is to watch it in action. Turn with me to Acts 14
- Acts 14:19-23 - “ But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
This week I had a really goof conversation with the missions leader at The Church of Brook Hills, the Church David Platt is the pastor at, and we were talking about the nation of India, and how it is one of the last places on the planet that is still unreached with the Gospel. He was telling me that God is really moving in the Northern part of India in many of their house churches. He told me that in their support of the Church in India they rarely give money to pay for bricks and mortar, because in these intimate meetings at house churches, they ask a question, how many people did you share the Gospel this week? Every Sunday they asked that question. IN a house Church of 20-40 people you can't hide. And every week when you go to Church you know that you are going to be asked that question, you have one of two options, either stop going to Church, or start proclaiming the Gospel. The true, authentic Christians, start proclaiming the Gospel, and you know what happens. It works! It really works. Who would have guessed that God's word is true?
I think this is a major problem in the American Church. WE don't go and make disciples. We don't go and make peace. Instead we are afraid. We are afraid what people will think of us, we are afraid that we might lose our job. We are afraid of getting sued. We are afraid of getting detention at school. We are afraid of the war.
We refuse to lay our life down, and share the Gospel with our spouse, parents, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, the town next door, and the world. And then we are surprised when there is war in our schools, streets, and homes. Let us be like Paul and be left for dead one day, and in Derbe the next, spreading the peace of Christ.
This is what the Sons of God do. SO let's recognize who we are in Christ and go and be peacemakers!