LIFE OF CHRIST
In our series on the life of Christ, we have been looking at the Sermon on the Mount. We have covered 6 of the 9 Beatitudes so far. In this lesson, we will cover remaining 3. One more time, I want to read all 9 Beatitudes.
Matthew 5:2 Then 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 filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain 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 they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Let us begin with the 7th Beatitude, which is:
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
The word “peacemakers” is defined this way:
Friberg: of establishing a friendly relationship between persons peace-making
Louw-Nida: a person who restores peace between people
BDAG: to endeavor to reconcile pers. who have disagreements,
As with all these Beatitudes we have looked at so far, being a peacemaker is not optional. As Jesus said, if you want to be a child of God, you must be a peacemaker. If you are not a peacemaker, you are a probably a troublemaker. Listen to how Paul contrasts the peacemaker to the troublemaker.
Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
I could spend a lot time with these few verses, but to put it simply, if you live for yourself and do not obey the Word of God and continue to live like the unrighteous, you will be lost and you will not find peace. As:
Isaiah 48:22 "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."
However, if you love God and continue to patiently serve Him by doing good then you will have glory, honor and peace. The peace I am talking about is not the kind of peace we all enjoy when there is no war. No, the kind of peace I am talking about comes from God and knowing that we are right with Him.
There is no greater peace that can be found than in Jesus because He is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). We can see why, when we read:
Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
Also, Paul wrote in:
Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Jesus is our greatest example of what a peacemaker can do. Jesus knew that we were lost, and He came to this earth as the great peacemaker between us and God. He not only made reconciliation possible for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. These two groups of people had been divided before. Even those Gentiles that would come and worship God could only get so close to the temple area. There was an actual wall that they could not cross, but Jesus broke down all the walls that separated the Jews and Gentiles from each other and from God, which is why Jesus deserves the title Prince of Peace.
His message was also a message of peace for those who were willing to accept it, which is the message we proclaim in the gospel. As Paul said:
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"
If we want to be peacemaker, we must go to God’s Word to learn how. It starts with learning about Jesus:
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
The word” knowledge” in our text is not the kind of knowledge you have when you kind of know something, it carries the meaning of having a precise knowledge of Jesus. The more we know about Jesus and all that He did, the more we will gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a peacemaker and what it does not mean.
Every Christian should strive to be a peacemaker as Peter taught:
1 Peter 3:10 For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."
Paul is certainly a good example of one who strived to be a peacemaker. Do you remember what happened when Paul made his way to Jerusalem? Well, let's read about what happened, starting with what James tells Paul in:
Acts 21:20 "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 "but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 "What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 "Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.
Do you see what James was asking Paul to do? He wanted Paul to show these Jews that the rumors about him were not true. He was not teaching against keeping the customs of the Law of Moses, because he still kept the customs himself. Paul was willing to do this to keep the peace. Now some have actually said they think Paul was sinning when he did this, but the Bible nowhere indicates that he was. He was simply trying to be a peacemaker.
When I think of a peacemaker, I also think of Abraham when his people and Lot’s people were not getting along.
Genesis 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left." 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.
Sometimes being a peacemaker means that you give up the best for someone else in order to keep the peace.
In Romans 14, Paul was dealing with the issue of those who were confused about eating certain foods, but in the interest of peace Paul wrote:
Romans 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
As Paul wrote in another place:
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
Sometimes there are things that are lawful for us to do, but a weaker brother may sincerely struggle with those things. Sometimes, we must refrain from doing those things at least for a while until we can help that brother or sister sees that there is nothing wrong with doing those things. That is what being a peacemaker is about.
We need peacemakers in the Christian home because having an un-peaceful household is no good. As:
Proverbs 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.
Having a dinner of herbs, which can include vegetables is not near as satisfying as a calf for us meat eaters. I know that some vegetarians would probably disagree with this, but this is the point that is being made in this proverb. Though you may not have much food to eat, a dinner is far better where love is. Even if you have the greatest meal on earth, whatever that may be for you, it is not going to be a great dinner if the household is full of hatred.
Sometimes this hatred comes from the wife as in:
Proverbs 21:9 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, Than with a contentious woman in a wide house.
Other times it can come from the husband as in:
Proverbs 11:29 He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
If we want to have happy home that is pleasing to God, then we must learn to remove the hatred from our homes and seek peace because that is what God wants our households to be like, but the ole devil never rests when it comes to stirring up strife in the home. The way we keep the strife out of the home is by recognizing how damaging it is and by looking at examples in the Bible that show that strife never solves problems, but only adds to them. We must focus on putting God’s Word into our hearts every day, and never stop praying to God for the strength and patience to be a peacemaker in the home.
We certainly need peacemakers in the church because it is not uncommon for problems to arise because we are human. Sometimes problems might be between two Christians like Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 15:37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Here was a situation in which they were disagreeing over a matter of opinion. It was not a doctrinal issue. In this particular case, the way they found peace was by going different direction while still spreading the gospel. However, as we learn later, Paul’s opinion was wrong about Mark because later on, we see Paul talking highly of Mark in Col. 4:10, 2 Tim 4:11. Sometimes, good Christian men or women can disagree over an opinion, sometimes the most peaceful thing is for them to separate from one another, but never in such a way that will hinder the growth of the church.
Paul played the peacemaker when he wrote the following to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 2:6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
From these verses we learn that there was a man who was guilty of sin, and he was punished by the church, which would have been the withdrawal of fellowship. Well, apparently this man got the message and had repented, but these Corinthians were not having trouble forgiving him. Maybe they did not believe he really repented. Whatever the reason, Paul is telling them that his punishment must cease now and they need to reaffirm their love to him. This serves as an example of how a fallen Christian can be brought back into the fold and should be at peace with his brothers and sisters in Christ.
No matter what issues may come up in a church, Christians should be willing to arrive at a peaceful solution that will not compromise or add to God Word. This is what the church did in Jerusalem when they came together to talk about whether the Gentiles had to be circumcised or not. This meeting was not based on opinion, the final answer that came out of that meeting was approved by God because we read:
Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
While we should always do our best to be peacemakers, we must never ever compromise God’s Word to make peace, which is why sometimes we cannot make peace with those around us though we are at peace with God. Let’s look at a few verses that teach this idea:
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Notice, Paul said if it is possible, be peaceable with all men. However, whenever we live the Christian lifestyle and we uphold the Word of God, it will make it impossible for us to have peace with those who are opposed to the way of Christ, which is why Jesus said:
Luke 12:51 "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Some might read this and wonder how could Jesus be called the prince of peace yet say these things? The answer to this is quite simple because Jesus made us be at peace with God He did not come to make everyone be at peace with each other. However, this could certainly happen if people would agree to live by what the Scriptures teach, but we know that the majority will not do this. Though every person has the opportunity to be at peace with God and his fellow man, many reject the message of peace, which is why even family members will turn on their own when they do not the like the message of peace.
This stresses the idea that being a peacemaker does not mean that we make peace with others no matter what the cost, but that we strive to be peaceful with those around us, but we must never add to or take away from God’s will to do so. When we can do this, we will be called sons of God.
Some people consider our last Beatitudes as being one because they basically talk about the same thing, but the word blessed is used twice in these last two. Jesus said:
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Our 8th Beatitude in verse 10 is more a general statement to those who are persecuted, while our 9th Beatitude adds more details and is more personal as it says, Blessed are you.” Since these two Beatitudes are similar, I will talk about both of them is this final part of our lesson.
The word persecute means:
Thayer: to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away…to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something.
The word revile means:
BDAG: . to find fault in a way that demeans the other, reproach, revile, mock, heap insults upon as a way of shaming;
The previous 7 Beatitudes have built up to these two final ones, which tells you what the results will be when your life is a reflection of these Beatitudes. You will be persecuted in one form or another. As Paul told Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Jesus told His disciples the same thing in:
Matthew 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 "It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!
As I said several lessons ago, the Beatitudes personify Jesus. When we live like Jesus, we can end up being treated just like Him. Think about it. He was the Son of God and could work miracles. No one could trap Him in His words, and He was sin free, yet He was persecuted. As Jesus said, we are not above Him, so we too will receive persecution.
We can see this early on shortly after the church had its start in Acts 2. Notice what happened to the apostles as we read in:
Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 "Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." 33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. 34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 "After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 "but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it -- lest you even be found to fight against God." 40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
The Jewish council hated this new teaching about Jesus. They thought they might be able to control the situation by beating these men and commanding them not to speak in the name Jesus, but they were wrong. Instead, these apostles considered it an honor to suffer for the cause Christ because they knew and we should know that there is no greater reward in this life than to stand up for the truth no matter what persecution you may face because the reward of heaven is far greater than anything we will have to suffer by the hands of men. As Paul said:
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
So, don’t ever think that living the Christian life is easy. When we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we will be pleasing to God, but we will have many enemies because many cannot stand the righteous way. No matter what persecutions we face, whether they are verbal or physical ones, we can rejoice and exceedingly glad knowing that when we endure what the world throws at us, and we remain true to God’s Word, we can be confident that heaven will be our home. As Jesus said in:
Revelation 2:10 "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
James says the same thing in:
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
If all Jesus preached was the Beatitudes in this sermon of His, it would still be a powerful sermon that would challenge any Christian to grow, but we have just begun. There is much more Jesus has to say in the Sermon on the Mount that will continue to set the bar higher and higher for every Christian. I hope everyone will allow these lessons on the Sermon on the Mount to really sink in because if you will allow Jesus’ message to guide you in the way of faithfulness, you will become a stronger Christian. I hope you will be able to join us next time, as we continue to examine the Sermon on the Mount.