“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” - Matthew 5:9
We live in a culture in chaos. Nations rage, families at war, denominations fractured, churches in conflict, individuals searching & longing for calm.
JUST TAKE A LOOK AROUND YOU:
- People at war with one another
- People at war with themselves
- People at war with God
In the midst of it all, we who are in Christ have recieved a clarion call to be "peacemakers"
What does that mean?
1.PEACEMAKING IS AN EXTERNAL PRACTICE
Notice that the terminology used here is peacekeeper or even an admonition to maintain a peaceful disposition. There's nothing wrong with either of those things and as Christians, we should strive for both!
That said, the term "peacemaker" is used here and grasping what it means is a game changer
This plural word used in Matthew 5:9 only occurs here (eirenopoioi)
Let's look at its usage in both the Greco-Roman and Judaic cultures
In classical Greek a "peacemaker" was an ambassador sent to promote and secure peace (he brought peace with him)
The Hebrew roots of being a “peacemaker” is found in the ministry of the Levitical Priest
As an example: The Old Testament Priest were set apart to serve the Lord and His people. It was an ancient ministry of reconciliation.
- For instance, he was responsible for offering daily, annual, seasonal substitutionary sacrifices so that the people could live in peace with God
The Priest would stand before the Lord and offer these sacrifices on behalf of the people.
THEY WOULD ALSO stand before the people as a representative of God to pronounce blessings of peace upon them in His name.
The Old Testament Priest we’re called to be vertical peacemakers (promoting peace between man and God)
BUT ALSO – He was tasked as a horizontal peacemaker (promoting peace and reconciliation between the brethren)
A classic example of this: If a man was stricken with leprosy, he would be removed from the community (subsequently forced to live as outcast, on the margins of society)
The pathway back for this man ran through the Priest who would conduct a ceremonial cleansing (Lev 14) and gaining access to his community once again – being reconciled with his people.
Being a peacemaker - is an external action that promotes both vertical peace (through the proclamation of the Gospel) and horizontal peace (through exposition of Gods Word)
2.PEACEMAKING REQUIRES INTERNAL PURITY
IT’S IMPORTANT TO AGAIN NOTE: These beatitudes aren’t haphazardly or randomly strewn together – they're in a specific sequence….one flowing into the next
IT’S NO MISTAKE: The call to peacemaking in verse 9 FOLLOWS the call to purity in verse 8 - We are to be first pure, then peaceable
In Leviticus 8, there is a fascinating story of Aaron and his sons being ordained as Priest. During the ceremony:
Moses put blood on their earlobe – symbolizing their need to listen to God
Blood on their thumb – symbolizing their need to serve God
Blood on their toe – symbolizing their need to walk with God
Why? BEFORE they could fulfill their calling of being vertical and horizontal peacemakers – they needed to be personally PURE. That’s not changed.
Peace with God PRECEDES peace with others.
3.PEACEMAKING REQUIRES A SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE
a. We Need Gods Wisdom In Order To Be Peacemakers
Current cultural climate: Pushes for toleration – so long as it’s just one view
Tendency: Go along to get along // cave in order to cooperate
YET: True peacemaking cannot be complicit with sin, or in alliance with that which is evil
In Ephesians 4, the Lord speaks through the Apostle Paul, calling the church to unity and affection:
Verses 1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”
Later in that same chapter: Pay careful attention to how he says this is accomplished (11-15)
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”
Catch that? Speaking the truth in love // NEED the supernatural power of God is to help us be both honest and compassionate (in what we say and how we say it)
b. We Need Gods Grace In Order To Be Peacemakers
The Christian faith is not simply about loving and serving Jesus, it’s about loving and serving Judas too – that can be exceedingly difficult because it can be hard to forgive Judas, can’t it?
We don’t know anyone who hasn’t been hurt deeply. Not a single person.
We praise God that one day, He will wipe every tear from our eyes that were shed because of betrayal, slander, disappointment and even evil things done to us but they sometimes flow freely here in this fallen world.
A little while ago, this really hit home for our family and created a sadness, pain and hurt that is quite honestly indescribable.
I won’t speak for anyone else – but I’ll tell you that for me: It led to a numbness that eventually became a deep sadness and in time, became nothing short of fury.
I was angry at the one who brought such hurt to our family. Angry at myself for not somehow preventing what had taken place from happening – and unfortunately, angry at the Lord.
I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think straight…I tried to pray but my prayers would eventually conclude with me shaking my fist at God.
I attempted to work my way through it. I tried everything: fasting, prayer routine, read more scripture, counseling…nothing was helping.
I was wrecked – emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually. Wrecked.
I CRIED OUT IN DESPERTION: I don’t know what to do!
Then the Holy Spirit brought a thought to my mind: You need to forgive.
MY INITIAL REACTION: NO!
I’ll do anything but that. If I was the only one hurt, maybe…but I’ve watched my family weep, Lord!
YOU NEED TO FORGIVE
I’ll do anything else! I’ll pray more, I’ll dig deeper into my study, I’ll worship you more fully, passionately, sincerely…
YOU CAN’T until you forgive.
Matthew 5:23-24 “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
“I cant do it” – HE SAID – “I did it for you”
Freely you have received – freely give
FRIENDS: I want to say to you that I couldn’t forgive on my own – I tried – wrote it in my prayer journal daily…”I forgive him” but I hadn’t
FACT: forgiving in my own strength was insufficient, forgiving in my own wisdom was inept, forgiveness was impossible in my own ability
FINALY: “Lord, I tried and I can’t do it. I surrender this to you. I’m waving the white flag”
BY HIS SUPERNATURAL STRENGTH: I forgave the one who brought so much pain to my family
Maybe my story resonates with you…
If it does...may I say on the authority of Gods Word: You need to forgive.
IF you could do it on your own, you already would have – you can’t BUT in His strength, all things are possible.
IT REQUIRES TOTAL SURRENDER
That doesn’t mean – you give a person a free pass to hurt you again or even permission to enter back into your life…it means that you’ve surrendered your hurt to the Lord and entrusted the person to the Lord
It means that in submission and humble obedience to the Word of God, you’ve decided to be a peacemaker.
THE PROMISE: Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”
SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD: We will be recognized by others as His children.
BEFORE WE CLOSE...
Look with me at the verses that immediately follow this beatitude
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
We’re called to be peacemakers and then our Lord, in His sovereign wisdom, says even still…you’ll be find occasions in which we’re faced with hostility, no matter our effort.
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”
IF possible – indicates that it won’t always be – but our responsibility is to exhaust every resource at our disposal.
In other words: If reconciliation doesn’t always happen but if peace doesn’t come – it must not be due to inaction on our part.
TO WRAP ALL OF THIS UP: Borrowing from the classical Greek definition of peacemaking and the Hebrew pattern that we’ve been given through the scriptures...
Peacemakers are those who’ve been made positionally pure through salvation and progressively pure through sanctification…preaching, pushing and promoting reconciliation
Helping people to find peace within, with others and with God – That’s peacemaking and that's what we're called to.