By LOU TISCIONE
This essay, on the fifth to the eighth Beatitudes, is a continuation of last weeks’ article on the first four Beatitudes. The verses that declare the final four Beatitudes are Matthew 5:7-12.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (ESV)
The word “blessed” describes those who are fortunate, happy and have a deep and profound spiritual well-being. The Beatitudes are declarative statements. Matthew recorded them in the present tense. The present tense is descriptive of ongoing behavior.
The grammar emphasizes that Jesus was describing someone who possessed all of the characteristics listed. He was describing Himself and those pursuing godliness in Him. The purpose of the Beatitudes, in fact, the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount is to cause those who have been born again to live in reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Mercy, the subject of the fifth Beatitude is fully revealed in Jesus Christ. King David appealed to God’s mercy for forgiveness, Psalm 51. The Apostle Paul wrote that God has mercy on those whom He chooses, Romans 9, Ephesians 2. The Apostle John wrote that Jesus came full of grace and truth, John 1. Mercy is unmerited favor.
God extends mercy through Jesus Christ. Those who have received God’s mercy live as people of mercy. Those who have received mercy offer themselves as holy and living sacrifices to God, Romans 12.
To be pure in heart is to be totally free from any selfish desires. One who is pure in heart is fully motivated toward God in love and obedience. Jesus said that He only did what He saw the Father doing, John 5.
Philippians 2: 5-11 reveals both the humiliation of Christ and His exaltation. Jesus’ love for the Father was demonstrated by His perfect obedience. Jesus said that no one has seen the Father, except the one who was sent by the Father, namely Himself, John 6. The pure in heart are those who pursue holiness in the power of the Spirit of Christ, 1 Thes. 4:3. Sanctification is necessarily connected to God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible. The pure in heart affirm God’s work of grace in making them more and more like Christ.
Biblical peace is a pure relationship with God. The one who was the supreme peacemaker was Jesus. He reconciled the world to God, 2 Corinthians 5. He is the one through whom men are at peace with God, Romans 5. Je
sus was not describing those who manage to establish treaties between warring factions. He was describing ultimate peace. He alone is ultimate peace. He is the reality of peace and rest, Colossians 2. Children of God are at peace with Him. There are only two kinds of people in the world. Either one is a child of God or a child of Satan, 1 John 3:10. One either belongs to God or to the devil. The person and work of Jesus Christ is the only means by which God has extended inheritance of His promise of sonship and heaven, Galatians 3. Believers have been given the ministry of proclaiming God’s reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Immediately, when we think of persecution for the sake of righteousness, Jesus’ life and death comes into view. He was truly the only perfect and innocent man executed. Not only was Jesus innocent of the crimes for which He was crucified, but He never sinned in any way. He was the one who was made sin for His people so that they might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. The Christian life is shaped by perseverance. May we not be surprised by persecution for the sake of the gospel. Jesus said that the world hated Him first, therefore, disciples should not be surprised that it will hate them, too (John 15).
As you read, study and apply the Beatitudes may you see the beauty, majesty and perfection of Jesus Christ.
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).