Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the Peacemakers
““Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9 NASB1995
There’s a lot to unpack in this Beatitude. So far in the Sermon on the Mount, we are blessed for being poor in spirit, mournful for our sins and suffering, and meek or gentle in character. We are blessed for hungering and thirsting for righteousness. That righteousness leads to mercy (even towards those who do not deserve it) and purity in heart. Now we are called upon to be peacemakers, which will lead to us being called Sons of God. Jesus doesn’t want His followers to just live in peace in some quiet little corner of the world, hoping they won’t be noticed; He wants us to make peace happen, which means we engage in society, our churches, and our communities and be a voice of peace.
Conflict is everywhere in our world. The times of peace are rare and never last long. At the end of World War I, leaders called that horrid trench war, which was mostly limited to Europe, the “war to end all wars”. Just twenty years later, World War II was getting started and would involve countries and territories around the world, from Hawaii to Europe to North Africa to China to Southeast Asia to Indonesia to the Philippines to the Aleutian Islands and to previously unknown little Pacific tropical islands like Guadalcanal. It is estimated that nearly 120 million people died in both of the 20th-century World Wars (including civilian deaths and those who were victims of the Holocaust). Peace at the end of WWII came when victory was ensured against the Axis, but then the Cold War started, causing more regional conflicts across the globe. Sadly, if you put two or three people together, there will inevitably be a clash of beliefs, politics, values and opinions.
Turning to commentaries, a great sermon on this topic by Brian Bill (Keep Believing Ministries) identifies the peace principles that should form a foundation for the Christian believer:
• Peace must be pursued. Psalm 34:14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Ephesians 4:3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13: “…Live in peace with one another.”
• Being a peacemaker can be lonely. Psalm 120:6-7: “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”
• Peace must be prayed for. Psalm 122:6-8: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’”
• The promoter of peace finds joy. Proverbs 12:20: “There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.”
• Pleasing God is a prerequisite for peace. Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
• Those who bring peace have beautiful feet. Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace…”
• Jesus gives peace unlike any other. John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…”
• Churches grow during times of peace. Acts 9:31: “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”
• We must do everything possible to live at peace. Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
• Peace is a directive from the God of peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15: “God has called us to live in peace.” 2 Corinthians 13:11: “…be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…”
• Righteousness is rewarded to peacemakers. James 3:18: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
• Jesus is the model for peace. Ephesians 2:14-17: “For He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Interestingly, the phrase “making peace” is also found in our beatitude for today.
As difficult as it is to live these tenets of peace, it starts by scrolling past an opinion on social media that you dislike and “letting it go” rather than comment. It continues in conversations with co-workers or neighbors or family members by not taking the bait and escalating a disagreement. We practice peace locally, influencing others to do the same, until it becomes a habit. Humans are by nature violent and disagreeable; Jesus asks us to do something different that takes us away from those tendencies. When we work and pray for peace (and also value our fellow humans as being Imago Dei or made in the image of God), our reward will be to be called a Son of God (or Daughter). What a privilege!
My next Sermon on the Mount devotional will examine the last Beatitude, which is in Matthew 5:10-12 - Blessed are those who are persecuted…
Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash
Sermon excerpt by Brian Bill Copyright 2020 Keep Believing Ministries