Beatitudes five to eight (Matthew 5:7-12)

Published on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 05:35
Yesterday we thought about the first four Beatitudes that Jesus taught. In the fifth, he says that the followers of the King are marked by mercy. We often link mercy with the divine response to our confession of sin when God shows mercy to those who do so in the sense of receiving pardon. Yet mercy is a bigger concept than that because it extends to showing compassion in all kinds of ways. Jesus is saying that his followers will show compassion to those in need, whether that need is spiritual or physical.

In the sixth beatitude, the members of the kingdom are marked by purity of heart. Jesus cannot mean a sinless heart, because if he did there would not be any members in his kingdom on earth. Instead, he is describing a sanctified heart, one that is marked by the features that he has already mentioned. It has been pointed out by commentators that a good word that explains purity of heart is sincerity. There is no hypocrisy. Instead, the individual is consistently genuine. He is not deceitful.

The seventh beatitude says that a true disciple of Jesus is a lover of peace, but not just in the sense of enjoying a peaceful environment. In addition, he goes into situations where peace does not exist, and does so with the aim of bringing the peace of God into those situations. He is active with his peace-making. I suppose this involves bringing the gospel of peace to those who are separated from God by their sins. And it includes sorting out situations of contention. The implication is that the followers themselves don’t cause the problem to happen.

Lastly, Jesus mentions that the subjects of the kingdom will be persecuted because of their priorities revealed in their lifestyles. There is no merit in being persecuted because we are obnoxious or proud or insistent on our own rights. But when we are opposed because of our commitment to the Bible’s requirements, we are on the road that brings many blessings into our experience.

As we think about those eight features of the character of each member of the kingdom, it should not be difficult to work out that they describe Christlikeness. It would be helpful if we went through each and observed how they were seen in the life of Jesus. He was humble, he was the man of sorrows, he was gentle, he loved righteousness, he was merciful, he was sincere, he delighted in making peace, and he was opposed and ultimately killed. The original disciples would become like this by spending time with Jesus and imitating him. The same goes for us.

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