Preached @ Anchor Community Church on February 23rd, 2014
“The more I read these chapters (Matthew 5-7), the more I am both drawn to them and shamed by them. Their brilliant light draws me like a moth to a spotlight; but the light is so bright that it sears and burns.”
Big Picture: Jesus Gives Us the “Ethical Norms” of His Kingdom
You can’t live like this, unless something is empowering you to live like that. This is where the Beatitudes come in. The Beatitudes are truths about one who is being transformed by the kingdom, and make it possible to live within the Kingdom norms.
Apart from Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount exposes and condemns you. We want people to live like that, but we struggle to live like that. Therefore, we treat it as an unapproachable ideal, because the kingdom we live in does not live like that.
Once we see the glory of God and the terror of God in the sermon, we can turn to the hero of the sermon; Jesus. So I pray that you aren’t taking these sermons as a “Therefore, Do” sermon, but a “Therefore, Be” sermon. Ephesians 4:1 makes the point once we understand the Indicatives of who we are, we can then “Walk worthy of the calling by which we have been called.” We aren’t striving to live out the Beatitudes; they are true of those in Christ. The Beatitudes reflect how we come to Christ. Jesus is the end game, not the blessings! The Beatitudes show who we are (Being) not what to do (Action). Being always precedes “Doing” in the Kingdom of God.
So many people see Christianity as “Following” Jesus, but that following must be preceded by an about face, a recognition of poverty, and then a turning to Christ and His grace and mercy.
I want to recap the first Four Beatitudes from last week, and then look at the last Four Beatitudes this week.
Part #1 (Recap)
Knowing You Are Spiritually Bankrupt is the beginning of Blessedness
Being Disgusted By Our Sins Leads to Comfort
A Humble Desire to See Others Prosper Leads to Contentment On Earth
Those That Desire God Over Everything Else Will Find Satisfaction
It is in His Righteousness that we are saved (Philippians 3:9)
From the Head…
Showing Mercy to Others, Reflects Your Recognition of Mercy In Your Own Life (Matthew 5:7)
This one is often linked to Matthew 6:14-15 and is interpreted legalistically. It becomes a one for one truth. “You show mercy, you get it; you forgive, you get forgiven; now get to work.” Sort of an “Eye for and eye” idea. However, that’s not the intent of these verses. Remember, the verses we are looking at are indicatives; they are already true of those in the kingdom. The word mercy (Eleemon), though similar to the word Grace, carries the idea of showing love to the helpless, as one commentator writes, “A loving response is prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one on whom the love is to be showered.” D. Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Grace is especially associated with men in their sins; mercy is especially associated with men in their misery,,., mercy looks upon the miserable consequences of sin.”
Thus, when we understand our bankrupt spirit (v. 3) and we mourn over our continued sin (v.4) forcing us then to hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness (v. 6), then we too are able to show mercy to the downtrodden, pathetic, and hopeless. It is because we are shown mercy that we can give it. It’s the same with forgiveness in Matthew 6. Thus our mercy is a response to God’s mercy, so in that sense we are very blessed!
Only A Transformed Heart Can Experience the Glory of God (Matthew 5:8)
The heart in scripture is the seat of motivation. It is the reason we do what we do and think. It encompasses the mind, emotions and the will. It is out of the “Heart” that our real sins are discovered (See Jeremiah 17:9 cf. Matthew 15:8-9). In spite of our wicked hearts, God is able to change them.
Religion and secular solutions are great at cleaning the outside of our lives, without dealing with the inner roots of our problems. This is essentially what Jesus’ words to the religious Pharisees of His time mean when He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25–26). Psychology helps with relief from symptoms, but cannot cure the disease; sin. Religion does the same; it works toward changing behavior without dealing with the heart enslaving sins and desires that cause the behavior.
What is a Pure heart?
Psalm 24:3-4 indicate that a “Pure Heart” is related to falsehood and deceit. James 4:4-8 connect a pure heart more specifically as a “Double-Mindedness,” which means that one who is double-minded has one foot in the world, and one foot out. Jesus Himself says that we are to “Love the Lord God with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your strength” (Matthew 22:37). Therefore a pure heart is one that isn’t double-minded and has his or hers loyalty and love divided between God and the world.
Who Has A Pure Heart?
The problem is as Proverbs 20:9 reminds us, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?’” Jesus reminds His disciples that ask a very similar question that He answers, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
As with all of the Beatitudes, it is God who acts first. Psalm 51:10 asks God to “Create in me a clean heart oh God,” and Titus 2:14 demonstrates the same idea, “who gave himself for us . . . to purify for himself a people.”
Our “Pure” heart is a result of God’s action in Christ on the cross and through His resurrection!
What Does It Mean to “See” God?
The result of God’s work in us is that we will “See” God. To “See” Him is to experience Him (See John 3:36). This includes His grace, mercy, righteousness and glory. Only with eyes that have been transformed by His power, can truly see and love God. It is similar to Moses experience in Exodus 33:18 when Moses prayed “I see your glory,” God showed Him His “Glory” by showing Him His attributes (See Exodus 33:19-34:7). 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be “Like Him, because we will see Him as He is.” When we truly experience God and are made pure, and given His righteousness, it is then that we see Him as He is, and can emulate Him in this corrupt world.
Striving For Peace Emulates Our Father Who Saved Us (Matthew 5:9)
This is an interesting one. Even in the church, the idea of peace can sound hollow, and silly. The world strives for it, but can’t seem to come to it.
Peace or “Shalom” is at the heart of the Father’s plan for His creation. In Jeremiah 29:7, God tells those in exile to “Seek the welfare (Peace/Shalom) of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in the welfare (Peace/Shalom) you will find your welfare (Peace/Shalom). The word for peace in that passage is the same one Jesus uses in our passage. Peace was part of the common greeting we see in the epistles (1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1). Peace was also attributed to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and according to John 16:33 our “Peace” would be found in Christ, and not the world.
There is no doubt that this idea is balanced by God’s wrath and judgment, and Matthew 10:34 even reminds us that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, but execute justice. This latter verse though must be understood in the light of context, that Jesus knew that His Gospel would be met by much opposition, and hate.
It is our context that explains our passage to us. Matthew 5:45 uses this phrase, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven,” quite like our passage in verse 9. In the former passage, it is the love of God that overcomes even hatred for an enemy. Once again, In Christ, we will begin to see His love formulated in us.
The idea that “We will be called “Sons of God,” and not children, carries the idea of identity, and likeness. To be called “Sons” is to be called “Like” the Father, who is a God of Peace! The fruit of the Spirit will emerge in reality, and we will become “Like” our Father who is in heaven! This is God’s goal for us in redemption.
“Darkness can not drive out darkness, only love can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King was right in realizing that more acts of retaliation and hate do not drive out hate, only love can overcome that; a love that comes from well beyond our own self; a divine love!
All of Those Persecuted Because of Jesus Can Enjoy the Kingdom (Matthew 5:10-12)
Persecution is very real for many of our brothers and sisters around the world, but Paul reminds us that “All who chose to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). The fact is, fallen man loves his/her sin, and will persecute to justify their belief about that sin.
Here we see the end of the beatitudes that frame our theme the “Kingdom of God.” This phrase also ends part 2 and the last 4 Beatitudes similar to the way part 1 and the first 4 Beatitudes ended; discussing righteousness.
First, the first half of our Beatitudes demonstrated the spiritual poverty of those in the kingdom, while the second set of four describe the transforming life of mercy, purity and peacemaking.
Secondly, our persecution comes from being acquainted with Jesus (See v. 11 cf. John 15:18-20), not our annoying “Self-Righteousness” or severe weirdness.
This is why that ultimately no matter how much you love the person, and work toward the peace of the community, you will be hated because of your core beliefs in Christ.
…to the Heart
- Have you placed your trust and faith in Him?
- Have you come to a place in your life that you agree with your spiritual poverty, and NEED Jesus as your savior?
- Are you trusting in God’s righteousness, and therefore thirst and hunger after His righteousness?
- Are you “Seeing” God and experiencing His fruit in your life?
- Are you still seeing the Beatitudes as something to emulate, or are you starting to see that these characteristics are only true of one who has bowed down to Christ as Lord of your heart?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti