Scripture: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 ESV
Observation: This seventh beatitude addresses peace—not seeking peace but fostering peace (Hebrew šalom; Greek eirene). The Old and New Testaments regularly express this concern for God’s people. But it is more than the absence of conflict or unrest. As theologian Michael Wilkins sums its breadth of meaning, “It indicates completeness and wholeness in every area of life, including one’s relationship with God, neighbors, and nations” (The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, p. 210). Here are a few examples from the English Standard Version (ESV):
- Psalm 34:14, Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
- Isaiah 52:7, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace,…
- Luke 24:36, As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
- Romans 12:18, If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
- Hebrews 12:14, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
- 1 Peter 3:11, …let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
As Jesus preached this beatitude, his words confronted the fringe element of zealots who sparked conflict to bring self-rule back to Israel. And his message confronted the Pharisees and Sadducees, whose sectarian beliefs divided God’s people. Sadly, most of these agenda-driven men who rejected Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and who stirred unrest among Israel would miss out on the blessing: of being called sons of God.
Takeaway: Jesus is our supreme source and means of peace between the Father and his people: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15 ESV). But his ministry of reconciliation and peace came at an unfathomable cost: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV).
So how do we respond to this costly good news as sons and daughters of God? We
- Cooperate with the Holy Spirit in living/striving for peace with everyone as much as it depends on us (Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14 above).
- Rely on Christ’s other-worldly gift of peace that overcomes our troubled hearts (John 14:27, see also Philippians 4:7).
- Stand sure-footed on the “readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:16).
Then only will we be fit to follow his Son’s beautiful feet, bringing good news and publishing peace (Isaiah 52:7 above). Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son whose beautiful feet brought us the good news of neverending peace with you through forgiveness and reconciliation. So would you please help us to appropriate your Son’s peace and pay it forward by faithfully following your Holy Spirit’s lead in being peacemakers who share his Gospel of Peace with others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling