Summary: Part 6 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This part examines the beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers
Sermon on the Mount
The Christian Character
(Cf. Luke 6:20-49)
This is Part 6 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.”
The 14 parts are as follows:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit
Part 3 - Beatitudes – those who mourn
Part 4 - Beatitudes – the meek, and those who hunger and thirst
Part 5 - Beatitudes – the merciful and the pure in heart
Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers
Part 7 - Beatitudes – the persecuted and insulted
Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world
Part 9 - Righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees; divorce, oaths
Part 10 - Eye for eye, loving neighbor and hating enemy, being perfect
Part 11 - Three things to do, not to be seen by men and a model prayer
Part 12 - Laying up treasures, eye is the lamp of the body, serving two masters
Part 13 - Do not judge, do not give what is holy to dogs and pigs
Part 14 - Ask, seek, and knock; the narrow gate; false prophets; building on the rock
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Last Sunday we discussed the 5th beatitude:
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY WILL BE SHOWN MERCY. (5:7)
Mercy is the fountain from which forgiveness flows. To be merciful is to forgive a debt or offense. So mercy is a conscious choice – often difficult.
We seem to have a built-in sense of rectitude that a sinner should pay the penalty for sinning. Mercy runs directly counter to the inborn human sense that our actions have consequences – and that principle should be an inviolable rule of life – no exceptions.
I don’t like for us to draw smug satisfaction from talking about the errors and defects of others. When we do, it is all but impossible to avoid the sin of pride. But we might be instructed by considering whether our own beliefs are colored by those of others.
Such a doctrine is the Catholic sacrament of penance. In this doctrine, penance is thought to be a key part of the process of reconciliation. Contrition (or repentance), confession, penance, and absolution.
The idea is drawn from the statement of Jesus to Peter in Caesarea Philippi:
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven.
Peter, or one of his successors, was thought to have authority to specify and bind an action on sinners – the sinner’s penance. Once specified, that action was treated as a binding duty, prerequisite for absolution from the sin.
The practice of penance evolved from the 3rd to the 7th century, but for much of that time, it involved denying the sinner the right to the sacrament of the Eucharist – what we call the Lord’s supper – along with some action that the priest directed the sinner to do. In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian was carrying a heavy burden on his back until he came to the cross. In the imagery of the story, the burden represented sin, which Christian carried everywhere he went.
There is a burden for us to bear, and it is this:
To obtain mercy from God – and absolution from our sins – we must show mercy to others. It’s easy to understand, not easy to do.
But there is a sin God will not forgive – the sin of unforgiveness. What a horrifying thought! But that’s the way it is. I need to look back over my life and ask myself whether I have left behind me a trail littered with unforgiven people.
• A parent
• A child
• A teacher
• A bully
• My spouse
• A neighbor
• A co-worker
• Even someone who cuts me off in traffic
We continued to a consideration of the 6th beatitude:
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD. (Matt 6:8)
Pure means either not diluted, or not contaminated. We discussed what it means for the pure in heart to see God in light of the impossibility of surviving seeing God in a tangible way.
Moses requested to see God’s glory.
Exo 33:19-20 And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."