Title: Crazy Peace
Text: Matthew 5:9-16
I’m so excited to be here with you this morning! We are wrapping up our series Crazy Eights. If you need a Bible raise your hand and one of our ushers will get you one.
Today we are going to wrap up the series with the last two things Jesus said in the Beatitudes. The first is about peace. Now I don’t know about you, but peace is not a word I would often use to describe my life. Peace can be hard to find. More often than not I hear people describe their homes as chaotic. Jobs are stressful, relationships have tension, and the world is full of violence. Peace seems impossible. Peace seems like a nice idea that will never happen in this world.
But our world today isn’t so different than the world that Jesus was speaking 2000 years ago. The people Jesus was speaking to where occupied by their enemy, the Romans. Violence was normal. Their world was not peaceful. And persecution was commonplace. This was not a coincidence that Jesus ends the beatitudes with Blessed are the Peacemakers and Blessed are those who are persecuted.
Jesus moves from peace to persecution in his close statement of the beatitudes. We might look at these last two statements Jesus said and think that they don’t go together. But we are going to see that they actually have a lot in common and it wasn’t a mistake that Jesus ended with these two.
About a year ago I started my job searching. Now I’m going to assume that all of us at some point have had an interview before. Whenever you go into an interview there seems to be certain questions that come up regardless of what position you are applying for. I think every interview I’ve ever had, from high school to now, I’ve been asked the question what are some of your weaknesses.
When I was first asked this at age 15 I didn’t know how to answer that. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted them to know that either… Turns out answering that I work too hard and I am too dedicated is no a good answer… As I got older I started to see the value in that question. The question shows how self aware a person is about themselves.
An other question I’ve been asked a lot is on a spectrum of being a person that runs toward conflict, being a person that will never turn down a fight, and a person that runs away from all conflict. When you are in a conflict with your spouse or at work do you run towards the conflict to fight or do you back down hoping it will go away? (Shows pictures of two people on the extreme. Maybe Movie action dude and wimp)
Now let’s take a quick poll. How many of you in this room run toward conflict, how many of you tend toward this guy? Maybe not to that extreme, but you have a tendency toward conflict. Now how many of you run away from conflict, how many identify with this guy? Naturally I tend toward running away from conflict. You will know people that lean towards conflict, because they will let you know that you are wrong… a lot. But you won’t always know the people that avoid it because they tend to hide and run away from conflict.
The reality is if you lean too far one way or the other it’s going to create some issues for you. And Jesus is going to help us sort some of this stuff out.
Jesus has been turning everyones thoughts about the world upside-down. He’s been saying you thought life was this way, but it’s actually this way. This is how things really are and this is how life really works. That’s what the beatitudes are about. Beatitudes translates as “Full of Blessing” or “Full of God, fully and wholly satisfied in God, connected to God and having God live in you.” Simply put, Jesus is saying this is how to have the good life, the best life.
So while we might think that it’s crazy, God is saying that this is how life really works. What comes out of Jesus’ mouth is shocking, countercultural, counterintuitive, and different than what any other teacher or philosopher was saying. Still today what Jesus taught about life leaves many wondering how this works. So while we might think that it’s crazy, God is saying that this is how life really works. God’s kingdom functions differently.
Throughout this series we’ve seen Jesus take the people the world often overlooks and say these are the kind of people that will inherit my blessings. It’s crazy and doesn’t always make sense to us. The poor in spirit, the merciful, the pure in heart, the people that have values the word doesn’t have are the ones Jesus wants to bless. And Jesus is telling us that if we want to live the good life then this is the way to get there.
The worlds way says we got to take want we want. But really that doesn’t work, does it? It doesn’t live you feeling full and it doesn’t lead to the good life. It doesn’t lead to the life that was promised. Jesus’ way, though crazy and countercultural, is the only way to the good life.
Let’s continue on with where we left off last week.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Now I don’t know about you, but I can think of 1,000 words I would use to describe the world right now, but peace is not one of them. You don’t hear a lot of stories about peacemakers either. There seems to be more stories of people throwing fuel on the fire and not many stories of people bringing peace.
Although the world we live in now has it’s differences to the world Jesus was speaking too 2,000 years ago it has one similarity. The lack of peace. And it’s too this world that Jesus is calling us to be peacemakers.
So when Jesus uses the word peace, which is the only time in the entire Bible by the way, he is saying this: one who having received the peace of God brings peace to others. Not simply one who makes peace but one who spreads the good news of the peace of God that he/she has experienced.
There’s two parts of peace that we need to look at. The one that we are familiar with is peace with the world. What does it mean for us to bring peace to a chaotic world? We will look at that later. But first we need is how can we have peace with God?
Let’s go to Romans 5:1 for that… Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1
That word justified is a legal term. It means to be declared righteous by a judge and that judge is God. In other words because of our sin we had a price to pay. That price was our lives. But God sent his son to pay the price we could not pay. Because of that we are now justified before God by having faith in Jesus. What is faith? It’s believing who God says he is and that he will do everything he has promised to do. And because of that faith we have peace and all that’s made possible by Jesus.
Now we live on this side of the cross. We have Romans 5 to look back on… The people listening to Jesus that day didn’t have that. So when Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those that live at peace with God they would have thought. “Peace with God?! How can I have peace with God?!” How can this be possible for me? Because all that’s been taught to them their whole live, and maybe this will be familiar to you, was that in order to get to God they had to do more good stuff and stop doing bad stuff.
That teaching weighs people down. The people listening where weighed down by the pressure to fix themselves. The main problem with this teaching is that it leads to one of two places. Arrogance or despair. Arrogance because I think I’m doing such a good job, especially compared to you. Or despair because I think I’m doing such a bad job, especially compared to you.
Jesus comes along and he is leading people to a totally different place. He leading people to peace with God. And that peace changes everything.
The peace that Jesus is calling us to isn’t just peace in our world or peace in our relationships with each other. While that certainly applies what Jesus is calling us to do is much deeper. He’s calling us to bring peace with God to the world around us.
Jesus goes on to say: for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew
So Jesus says these people, the peacemakers will be called sons of God. This is not just a statement of relationships but of character. In Jesus day when you called someone a son of a (Fill in the Blank) they were saying that you acted like that. So you if said son of a dog, you were saying they acted like a dog. And in Jesus’ day dogs were not the family pet. They were scavengers. They didn’t bring them into the house and put sweaters on them and push them around… If you are looking for an example of how we have collectively lost our minds look no further…
In Jesus’ day if you called someone a son of dog you were stating someone about their character. You are one that hurts and harms others…
So when Jesus says Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God he’s actually indicting something about God’s character. He’s saying God is a peacemaker. God pursued peace with us when we had absolutely no interested in peace with him. Jesus is also saying something about us. He saying when we pursue peace we are being like him. To be called a “Son of God” was unheard of to the crowd listening. It’s commonplace for us today. But it’s crazy that we, sinful humans, are called sons and daughters of the creator of the universe… That might be the craziest thing Jesus has said.
So some of you guys are thinking you know the takeaway. Let’s wrap this up and head to the beach. The takeaway is to be a peacemaker and you will be at peace. To play nice with others and they will play nice with you. We learned that in preschool… But let me ask you a question… Is that the way the world works? Are people really playing by those rules?
The world doesn’t operate like that. We can’t end here because the world we live in is not a peaceful place. And it’s in this world that Jesus is calling us to bring peace. We've got to figure out what that looks like played out in our lives.
We also know this isn’t the takeaway because that’s not how things ended for Jesus. He was the biggest peacemaker in history and yet he was put on the cross. Let’s look the very next verse. The very next thing out of Jesus mouth is: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
Now Jesus doesn’t say all peacemakers will be persecuted or that only peacemakers will be persecuted. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two verses are right next to each other.
How many of you have ever witnessed a fist fight? When you see a fight often there is a third guy that jumps in and tries to break up the fight. Then the two guys turn their attention and beat up that guy. That’s what Jesus is saying, As you attempt to bring peace you will be faced with conflict. How many of us have experienced that…
Jesus chooses the word persecuted… That means ongoing and continual pressure from all sides. When Jesus came into the world Full of Grace and Full of Truth, not 50/50 100%. And that got him in a lot of trouble. When we hold onto grace and truth we will get hit. And it’s in these moments God is calling us to be a peacemaker.
So in your life when you received peace with God and are pursuing peace with others don't be surprised when you find yourself in the middle of conflict. That’s exactly where Jesus found himself. Jesus even warned us when he said If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18 We shouldn’t be surprised.
Now does this mean that EVERY TIME we try to bring peace we will take shots? No. There’s plenty of examples of Jesus bringing peace and it went well. Sometimes we will be able to resolve conflict without any negative fallout. However sometimes when we bring peace we will take shots, why? Because we are doing so in the name of the one who went before us. He took shots and we will too.
Now we have to ask how do we know we are taking the right shots? Jesus qualifies what he is about to say with “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.” Jesus doesn’t say blessed are those who are persecuted.
Righteousness if defined by God. Not defined by me or you, by God. Now some Christians get persecuted by saying and doing really stupid things in really stupid ways. So when a Christian gets called all sorts of names for because they held up a hate sign or cheated on their spouse or embezzled money from their church. That’s not what Jesus is talking about.
Here’s a better way of reading this passaged: Blessed are you when you are persecuted when what you say and do are consistent with what Jesus says and does. Listen if we are going to take shots, let’s make sure we are taking shots for the things Jesus took shots for. I think everyone should have a list of the hills I’m willing to die on. And I want to make sure that every hill I’m willing to die on is one that Jesus is standing on.
Christians have a nasty habit of dying on all the wrong hills. So we have to ask ourselves this question. What are some things Jesus took shots for. And most of what Jesus took shots for fell into one of two categories… Grace and Truth.
He got persecuted and yelled at for eating with sinners, that’s grace.
He got persecuted and yelled at for claiming to be son of God, that’s truth.
He got persecuted and yelled at for claiming to forgive sins, that’s grace and truth.
He got persecuted and yelled at for calling out sexual sin, that’s truth.
He got persecuted and yelled at for healing the sick, that’s grace.
We could go on and on all day. But you get the point. These give us an idea of what hills we should be willing to die on. This what we should be asking ourselves. What hills did Jesus die on and do the hills I’m dying on match Jesus? We’ve got to take our cues from Jesus.
Jesus continues on… Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:11
All you english majors just noticed something cool that happened… The rest of us are like what? I had to study to catch it. Jesus switches here from the 3rd person to 2nd person. The entire sermon thus far has been in 3rd person. He’s been saying blessed are they, blessed are those… Now he switches. Blessed are YOU.
This isn’t by mistake. Jesus knows that some people in the crowd are going to follow him. They are going to do what he’s been sayings. Jesus knows in the coming years some of the people in this crowd will be persecuted, falsely accused, and criticized. So he looks them right in the eye and says blessed are YOU. Jesus knows it’s going to get rough so he is speaking to them so that when those times come they have something to flash back too.
Jesus is personalizing this message for his audience then and for us now. Blessed are you when people revile, which means to criticize in an abuse or angrily insulting manner. Jesus qualifies it again when he says falsely. Based on things that aren’t true, based on misconceptions. He ends this verse with “on my account”… Simply put when our hills match Jesus’ hills. When you are accused of hanging out with sinners, when you are accused of saying Jesus is the only way. When you are accused for saying and doing the things Jesus said and did.
Jesus is saying don’t be surprised when this stuff happens to you. He’s saying I’m with you when this happens. And it’s in this context, all the suffering all the persecution, that Jesus something most of us will think is just outrageous.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:12
Are you serious? How can we rejoice and be glad? That word rejoice is an interesting word. It’s been translated a bunch of different ways in the english. But in the greek it was one word and used in many different ways. It was a greeting. So it could be translated as greetings or hail. It was a popular greeting. Joy to you, greetings, hail.
The phrase be glad means rejoicing in hope, excessive joy. It means to be joyful beyond what your circumstance should allow.
So the question becomes how can Jesus say be glad in the context of being lied about, criticized, falsely accused, and persecuted? How can he say rejoice, be glad, joy to you?
You need to understand the weight of his words. He’s not saying this in a trivial sense. He’s not telling us to fake it, to gin and bear it. He’s not saying that. He’s saying that there is something that endures beyond your current circumstances. There is something in you that despite how dark and bad your life might be you can still rejoice.
If anybody has even understood this it would have to be Jesus, right? He understands this more fully then you and I ever will. He understand how dark and how evil circumstances can become.
This word rejoice it’s used a few other times in the NT. Here’s one of them.
And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings (Same word in the greek), Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Matthew 26:49
You know who said that? Judas, as he was betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Here’s an other one… and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail (Same word in the greek), King of the Jews!” Matthew 27:29
As they are crucifying Jesus they are saying rejoice, King of the Jews. You see Jesus knew what it was like to be mocked, betrayed, falsely accused, and persecuted. Catch this, even as they were mocking, beating, and crucifying him saying Hail, be full of joy, Jesus… He was full of joy.
It’s not a mistake that Jesus used this word here. Jesus was telling everyone that follows him that they will be taking shots. Jesus took the first shots and all who follow will follow in his footsteps. And it’s in those moments we can be full of joy. It’s in those moments we can be peacemakers.
That is why this was later written about Jesus. looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy (Same word) that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
How can you say there was joy set before Jesus when he was marching to his death? But there was, Jesus was able to look past his present, momentary, circumstances to something more. That enabled him to go through hell on earth because he knew something better was on the other side.
Jesus is looking at the crowd on the hillside and he’s looking at us today and he’s the exact same thing. He has credibility to say Rejoice and be glad because he puts it in the context of what he is about to walk through. He says great is your reward in heaven. There’s something better on the other side. He gives encouragement to let us know we are not alone when we go through pain, persecution, trail, and trouble.
For so they persecuted the prophets before you… You see this has been going on for long before the people Jesus was talking too. The prophets had been persecuted for saying exactly what God told them to say. Jesus is trying to point them and say you are in good company.
We are blessed when we bring peace to this world. Both in our relationships with others and bringing those around us to peace with God. But because of this we will take shots, we will be persecuted. But even in those moments we can be blessed. Whenever we take shots for righteousness, which includes bringing peace but not just peace, we can rejoice. Our reward is in heaven.
So what is Jesus saying to us? Look at those who ran before you. Look at the prophets. And especially look at Jesus who ran the race perfectly. And run your race. Endure.
Charles Stanley says it this way. Follow God and leave the consequences to him. That’s a good way to look at it.
In 2 Corinthians Paul says it this way. Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11
This theme of rejoice is all over the Bible. I could read verse after verse where we are told to rejoice. Why? Why does Jesus stress this? Why does Paul continue to bring this up? Because part of following Jesus means that there will be difficulties in our lives. And Jesus and Paul are trying to let us know that it’s okay.
You see Jesus knows that the people listening that day will hear about the trails and persecution and think if that’s all true then why don’t we just run away, withdraw, create our own Christian culture, have our books, music, and movies. Start our own schools, keep our heads down and just withdraw from the world and let them fend for themselves.
Jesus knows that this will be our temptation. But listen church, we cannot do that. It is not our job, it is not our mission to play life safe. Will there be trails? Yes. Will there be persecution? Yes. Will people falsely accuse you? Yes. Will you be mocked and ridiculed? yes. But in all of that we can rejoice and be glad, for our reward is not on this earth.
We need to bring peace to this world. It doesn’t matter at what cost to us.
Now maybe you are thinking this is all great. But our country is a mess, there’s violence here all the time. It seems there’s a terrorist attack every week. And we have races and communities pitted against one an other. What does it mean for me to be a peacemaker in my life? What does it mean hills should I be dying on in my life?
We’ve got the big idea. We are called to be peacemakers. Because of that we will be persecuted. But we are blessed when we are persecuted when what you say and do are consistent with what Jesus says and does for something Jesus was. Now it’s time to put some skin on it.
Let’s look at 3 practical ways we can do this.
Pray (show on screen)
I know I know… Cliche church answer. But I don’t think it is. I think we often undersell prayer. I think it changes things and it works. And I think we need to start here.
Pray for this country. Pray for our community here. Pray for the communities around this country and around the world that are affected by all the tragic events. Pray for the people that feel hurt and scared in their community. Pray for the police that are trying to protecting their communities.
When we pray I truly believe it changes things. And it starts with us. When we start to pray for these things it changes how we see them. We start to see things the way God does. We start to feel for things the way God does.
We’ve got to start with prayer.
Stand for Peace (show on screen)
Jesus called us to be peacemakers that means we actually have to do something. None of us are in a position to fix everything. But we each of a sphere of influence that we can make an impact in. When you hear someone make a comment against a person or people group stand up, speak up. Stand for peace.
Now let me say this… I’m not saying we should all go get into Facebook arguments and called everyone out. Side note, FB arguments never convert anyone to your side of view. There is a time and place for respectful conversation from opposing views, that place is not social media.
You have people in your life that you have an influence over. Your family, coworkers, sports league, gym members, people you see regularly, stand for peace. Ultimately point them to Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker.
Keep things in perspective (show on screen)
Remember that this life is not all there is. Our hope is not in this world and what it has to offer. Too often we get so caught up in what’s happening here that we lose sight of the bigger picture. When we stand for righteousness, when we stand for peace we will have conflict. We need to keep things in perspective when that happens.
When that happens we’ve got to look at what Jesus does with us. We’ve got to follow his example. He doesn't fight back, he doesn’t storm off mad. He patiently waits and continually reminds us of his love. When we take a shot from someone we need to not retaliate or withdraw. We need to continue to act as Jesus does. And we have to remind ourselves that our reward is not in this earth.
We are called to bring peace to a dark and hurting world. We are called to bring peace to a world that will persecute us. But that doesn’t change our mission. What Jesus said may seem a little crazy to us. But he lead us by example. He brought peace between us and God. And now his charge to us is to bring peace to the world.
So here’s my question… Will you be a peacemaker? Will you bring peace to your families? Will you point your co-workers to the peace they can have with God? Will you stand up when you see a situation that needs peace?
This world doesn’t need more people throwing fuel on the fire. This world desperately needs more peacemakers that aren’t afraid to take shots for the things Jesus took shots for. Will you be one?