************ Sermon on Matthew 5:9 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 29, 1999
"Blessed are the Peacemakers"
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Each of the beatitudes applies to all of God's people. So Jesus is telling us this morning that He doesn't just call parents, grandparents, adults, or adult singles to be peacemakers; His will is for all His children to be peacemakers. But you may wonder, what can a little child do?
Topic: PeacemakersJoy is a peacemaker. As a child of God she lives up to the words of our text for this morning.
Joy liked Tammy, who lived in a big house and had a "doctor dad." She also liked Carol, who was smart and pretty, but had no dad, and lived in an average house. But Tammy and Carol didn't like each other, and often Joy felt caught in the middle, with both girls getting mad at her as well as at each other.
One day Joy discussed the problem with her father. He suggested that if Tammy says good things about Carol or if Carol says good things about Tammy, it might be a good idea to repeat that.
Here's what Joy heard Tammy say: "I hate school, but I suppose Carol likes it since she's the smartest girl in class and is always on the honor roll. It's disgusting!" And: "Here comes Miss America! Look at her hair! It's so pretty! It makes mine look like a haystack. And she thinks she's little 'Miss Homemaker, USA'! Did you know she made the cute skirt she had on yesterday? She makes me sick."
And Joy heard Carol say, "See my new skirt? Of course, it's not as pretty as Tammy's clothes. She has so many, and they look so cute on her. She's so lucky her dad's a doctor--he's our doctor and he's great. And she lives in that fancy house."
Joy decided to follow her dad's advice. "Do you know what Tammy said about you?" she asked Carol. "She said you are the smartest girl in class. And she thinks your hair is pretty. She likes your new skirt too."
"Really?" Carol was surprised. "Maybe I ought to invite her over."
Then Joy talked to Tammy. "Carol said she thought your clothes are beautiful and look so cute on you," she told her. "And she said she loves your house and thinks your dad is great."
"No kidding? Say! I'm going to ask Mom if I can have you and Carol over Friday night."
I Contrary to World
A "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." This statement must have come as a very great shock to the Jews. They had the idea that when the Messiah came He would set up a national and worldly Kingdom by means of military might. They thought the Messiah would set Himself up as a great King; that He would deliver them from all their enemies; and, that He would establish the Jews above everybody else as the conquering and master race. After seeing His many miracles many of the Jews became convinced that Jesus was this Messiah. So, we are told that the people intended to come and make Him king by force (John 6:14-15). What is Jesus' response? He says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." This is a reminder that His Kingdom is not of this world and that it is not established by military might.
B "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." These words not only shocked the Jews of Jesus' day but they also run contrary to much of what we see today. You've seen the bumper sticker: "Don't get mad, get even!" Many people live by this creed. Countless of our fellow citizens watch Rambo-type movies in the theater and mistakenly glorify war, violence, death, and destruction.
C "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Jesus doesn't want a world of war and rumors of war. One of the most decorated soldiers of W.W. II was General Douglas MacArthur. He saw the ugliness of war first-hand and knew better than to ever glorify it. He said, "A soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." How true that is. Perhaps the statistics from Viet Nam speak to this better than I can. According to the statistics 55,000 Americans lost their life in Viet Nam. But since that time twice that number – 110,000 Viet Nam veterans – have committed suicide. Those veterans, they couldn't live anymore with the awfulness of the war still going on in their minds and dreams.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Jesus wants us to realize that war is awful. On vacation last week in San Diego I went to an exhibit in Balboa Park entitled "W.W. II through Russian Eyes." We saw artifacts and memorabilia taken by the Russians from Hitler's office. We learned about a women's fighter airplane squadron that the Nazis called the "Night Witches." And, we heard and saw how awful war really is. Did you know that 52 million people died in W.W. II; 27 million of them were Russians.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Jesus doesn't want our churches to be filled with fighting and schisms. The Christian Reformed Church has been torn apart for the last 20 years by arguments about women in church office. The only one who profited from this was Satan. We have given him much cause to laugh and smile when we have diverted time, energy, and money away from our mission to the lost; we have made him happy by our name-calling and stereotyping; the events and agony leading up to every person and congregation who left meant another notch on his belt.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Jesus doesn't want our families to engage in quarrels and arguments. Jesus is not pleased when marriages fall apart, when brothers and sisters or parents and children stop talking to each other, when neighbors erect walls of hostility and bear grudges.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Jesus wants peace in the world, in the church, in families. "Oh Father," He prays, "make them one just as You and I are one" (John 17).
II Lack of Peace
Topic: WarPeace is so elusive and so illusory in this life and on this earth.
Subtopic: Horrors of
Did you know that in the over 3100 years of recorded world history, the world has only been at peace 8% of the time or a total of 286 years and 8000 treaties have been made and broken?
B How come there is so much bloodshed and war on this planet? Why has the history of the church so often been filled with fighting, quarrels, and schisms? Why are families torn apart by frictions and strife? Can we never have peace and security?
Some 900 years before the birth of Christ someone identified only as the Preacher wrote these words:
(Eccl 3:1-2,8) There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (2) a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot ... (8) a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.What do these words mean? The Preacher reminds us that in this life and on this earth we will never really have peace.
And we, with the Preacher, all know the reason too, don't we? We know that man's capacity for evil is almost endless. In fact, after seeing the numerous mass shootings of the past six months, we know better than to ever underestimate man's capacity to commit the most evil sort of acts upon his fellow man. We know all about man's greed, his quest for power and glory, his desire for territory. We know that the reason for war, struggle, strife, and conflict is sin.
The tragic folly of the 20th century is our failure to see that sin is the source, the root, the cause of all conflict – whether it be in the world, the church, or the home. We can have international peace conferences. We can call in the United Nations. We can call in the Pastor Church Relations Committee for advice and assistance. We can send couples and families for counseling. The person who pins his hopes on such efforts is bound to be very disappointed. According to the Bible, the trouble is in the heart of man and nothing but a new heart, nothing but a new man, can possibly deal with the problem. Remember what Jesus said?
(Mt 15:19) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.What is in the heart – whether it be good or evil – always finds its way out.
Knowing what the Bible says about sin and the natural state of the heart, the Christian is never surprised by the lack of peace in the world, the church, the home.
III Victorious Peace
A "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." It needs to be noted that peacemaking is a divine work. God is the author of peace. He is called the "God of peace" (Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20) and apart from Him there can be no peace. So you and I are being called to imitate and to be in God and His Christ.
God brings peace through Jesus Christ. That's why the angels can sing of "peace on earth" at the birth of Christ (Lk 2:14). That's why Jesus can say, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (Jn 14:27). More specifically, God brings peace through the blood of Christ. Paul can say,
(Col 1:20) ... reconcile to himself all things ... by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Eph 2:13-14) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (14) For he himself is our peace ...
Peace, then, has to start with Jesus. Peace is not possible unless we are washed and cleansed by His blood and given a new heart.
B Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." But Jesus also says,
(Mt 10:34-36) "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- (36) a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'This sounds like a contradiction.
We need to understand that in the beatitudes Jesus is speaking of a victorious peace in which light triumphs over darkness, in which right triumphs over wrong, in which good triumphs over evil, in which justice triumphs over injustice. Jesus is speaking of a victorious peace in which sin is conquered and evil is abandoned. Jesus is speaking of a victorious peace in which we must put Him before even our nearest and dearest loved ones. Jesus is speaking of a victorious peace in which we love Him best and put Him first. In this kind of peace, there is harmony and unity because Christ is all in all and sin has been banished.
C "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." It is obvious that Jesus is not speaking of the peace that comes from compromise and appeasement. Nor is He speaking of the peace that comes from trying to be everyone's friend. Nor is He speaking of a peace that keeps silent or gives in before wrong.
D "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." This kind of peace is costly. Just like we don't believe in "cheap grace" so we also don't believe in "cheap peace." For God the price was the life-blood of His only Son.
To be a peacemaker can be costly for us too. When we ourselves are involved in a quarrel, there will be either the pain of apologizing to the person we have injured or the pain of rebuking the person who has injured us. Sometimes there is the nagging pain of being unable to be reconciled with the guilty party because they refuse to repent.
Or again, we may not be personally involved in a dispute, but may find ourselves struggling to reconcile two people or groups who are estranged from each other. In this case there is the pain of listening to the hurt of both sides. And, there is the risk of being misunderstood, of being caught in the middle. There is the risk of ingratitude. There is the risk of failure.
IV Being a Peacemaker
A "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." You and I are called to be peacemakers. But what can we do to bring peace? Practically speaking, what is it that you and I are to do?
First, don't be a spreader of tales. I think here of what is written in the book of Wisdom:
(Prov 26:20) Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.There is nothing like gossip and talebearing to fan the fires of strife and contention. Think of the 3 girls I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon. Imagine, for a moment, what would have happened if Joy told Carol:
"Tammy thinks you're disgusting. She calls you 'Miss America" and 'Miss Homemaker, USA'. She says you make her sick."And imagine what would have happened if Joy told Tammy:
"Carol is jealous of your new clothes and fancy house."By passing on such things Joy would have been a strife-maker rather than a peacemaker.
B Second, don't be quarrelsome. The quarrelsome person, quite obviously, cannot be a peacemaker. He or she always destroys the peace by arguing about picky little things and tries to create controversy over things that do not really matter.
C Third, be humble. Don't always insist on having your own way and standing on your rights. If God and Christ were that way salvation would be impossible. You see, if God stood upon His rights and dignity, upon His Person, God would never have sent Christ and every one of us would be consigned to hell as sons of perdition. And if Christ stood upon His rights and dignity He never would have humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant, going the way of the cross. Those who always insist on their own way, who insist on their own rights, are strife-makers rather than peacemakers.
D Fourth, be holy. Where there is holiness there is peace and no strife. Listen to these words from Scripture:
(Prov 16:7) When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.
(Heb 12:14) Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord ...
E Fifth, be witnesses to Christ. There can be no peace apart from God. So you are a peacemaker if you allow yourself to be used of the Lord to bring sinners to Christ in repentance and faith. Don't forget, God is a God of peace. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather, He is pleased when they turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23). And, of course, there can be no greater peace than peace with God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Right now there is so little peace on the earth. Too many times it is absent even in the church and in our own families. But we know that someday the victorious peace of Christ will be established all over the earth. We know that someday all sin will be conquered and all evil will be abandoned. On that day swords and guns will no longer be necessary. On that day churches and families will no longer be torn apart. Listen to what the prophet says:
(Is 2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore ... (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain ...That's what we can look forward to but not in this life and not on this earth. This has to wait for that day when Christ will return and He makes a new heaven and a new earth.
Until that day we must console ourselves with the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." In other words, blessed are those who – in the name of Jesus – work for, fight for, and try to bring about a victorious peace in the here and now. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." In other words, blessed are those who – in the name of Jesus – don't pass on tales, aren't quarrelsome, don't insist on their own way, are humble, and pass on the Good News. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." In other words, when we – in the name of Jesus – work for peace, God Himself calls us blessed, and acknowledges us as His children.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
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