Blessed continued

May 1, 2022

This week we will finish the last four Beatitudes that Jesus taught.

Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Before we discuss mercy, let’s look at a few definitions of words in the Bible that can be confusing. Justice means getting what you deserve. This means that a person who commits a crime gets punished for that crime. Mercy means not getting what you deserve. This person commits a crime, but the judge is merciful, and the person is set free. Grace means receiving something that is not deserved.

Thus, mercy is not getting what we deserve, or not giving someone what they deserve because of something they did. Another word for mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is what God loves. Micah 6:8 states, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.”

The people who are forgiving toward others will also be forgiven. This is exactly what God did for us through the saving blood of Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:14-15 states, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” This is similar to Psalm 24:3-6, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,  who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.”

The word pure in Greek is Katharos and is where we get the word catharsis. This means to cleanse. The heart in the time of Christ meant the mind. Thus, a pure heart was a clean mind.

Commentators and scholars talk about two meanings of a pure heart. The first is a heart that is made pure by cleaning from dirt, filth, or contamination. This is like the refinement of metals in a fire until they are pure. The second is being unmixed. Not having double allegiances. Thus, pure in heart means to be clean and single minded on His Kingdom.

Matthew is not just saying “the pure,” but the “pure in heart.” God cares about what is on the inside. In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus is giving woes to the people who look good on the outside, but have terrible hearts. He says, “ Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

How does a person get a pure heart? It is through faith in Christ. Hebrews 10:22 says, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

The last part of this beatitude is: “…for they will see God.” This could mean that the person would see God on earth through reading the Bible, worshipping Him, or through prayer. It could also mean we will see God in eternity since we have faith in Christ.

Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  The peacemakers are people who make peace with God through Christ, and with other people. Colossians 1:20 says, “ For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God made a way for us to have peace and that is through the blood shed on the cross by Jesus.

We are also to make peace with others. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

In the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, peacemaker means, “one who restores peace and reconciliation between persons and even nations.”

Romans 16:17-18 shows the opposite of the peacemaker, “17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

“…are called sons of God.” It is important to remember that peacemakers do not become children of God through peacemaking. The only way to become a child of God is through belief and faith in Jesus Christ. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

We are called children of God when we are peacemakers, because we are manifesting what God and Christ are like. They made peace with us, and we do the same with others.

Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
.” This is not just plain persecution, but persecution because of faith in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The word “persecute” in Greek means to chase away or pursue with hostile intention. Thus it means that people are blessed when they are pursued with hostility because of Jesus. These people do not walk away from the persecution or deny Christ because of the persecution. They face it.  James 1:2-3 says, “ Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

“…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is mentioned thirty-two times in Matthew. It is the reigning place of Jesus on earth and in heaven, and is the place that those who are persecuted (verse 10) and poor in spirit (verse 3) will have.

As I said last week, these last four statements deal with our relationship with others. We are to be merciful to others, pure in heart, peacemakers, and people who will be persecuted for our faith in Christ. Following these beatitudes is not easy. But we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us to be our “helper.”  

How is your relationship with others? Do you manifest the characteristics of those who are blessed?

Next week we will read Matthew 10-20. Have a blessed week.

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