Welcome to part five of the first course of Red Bricks. We are continuing to look at the kind approach we should take towards life, according to the teaching of Yeshua. Changing the way in which we think is essential. The world thinks differently to any who follow Yeshua. When we come to Yeshua, we have to learn how to throw off our old way of thinking.
Read Matthew 5:7-9
In the last session we started to look at what is often called The Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes. We discussed how it is that these were not to be taken entirely literally, but should, instead, be viewed from a spiritual perspective. This session continues in exactly the same vein. I can’t empathize enough our desperate need to view everything in the gospels from a spiritual standpoint.
1. The Merciful
Throughout the entire Bible, the notion of being merciful to others or to show mercy is frequently linked to a state of mind. It is a spiritual condition that we should all aspire to. The word used in Greek, eleemon, is given the meaning of compassionate, but we render it as merciful. It is likely that eleemon was transliterated from the Hebrew word, hanan, which has a literal meaning of to bend or to stoop, a theme continued from the notion of humility. The Hebrew word has a practical use that renders as to move to favour because of petition. In other words, if someone asks you for compassion or mercy, you should be able to exercise humility and mercy together.
Yeshua later explains this process in some depth in what is known as the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) which details the story of a servant whom owes his master a great sum. The master is keen to sell him, his wife and family in order to pay it all back, but relents when the servant begs for mercy. However, despite the master showing mercy and cancelling his entire debt, the servant then finds a fellow worker who owes him a small amount and tries to extract it from him. His fellow-worker is unable to pay and begs for the same mercy that the servant was shown. The servant doesn’t show any mercy and promptly throws his fellow worker into prison until the debt is cleared. The master gets to hear of the way the servant has treated his fellow worker and throws him in jail as a result.
Read Matthew 18:21-35
The dialogue at the start of text is Peter quoting from the Talmud, or oral tradition. The Hebrews had become so religious and legalistic that they had developed extra rules to the original Torah, or law. Yeshua here uses Peter’s question to show where God’s heart truly is – not in rules, but in mercy and compassion. The parable clearly teaches us that we who have been shown mercy by God, should always show mercy to others, regardless of what is at stake. The spiritual cost of not showing mercy is that you will not be shown mercy either. Psalm 37:26 talks of the righteous as being always merciful.
2. The Pure in Heart
The Greek word here used for pure is, in fact, katharos, which means without blemish or clean. Again, Jesus here is talking of a spiritual purity. We cannot ceremonially wash our hearts – only God can do that. In Psalm 51, David begs God to “create in me a clean, pure heart“. I believe it was to this spiritual condition that Jesus was referring. As we ask God to cleanse our hearts, we will see more of Him working in our lives. Jesus later says this of how we will be cleansed:
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth…For them I sanctify myself that they too may be truly sanctified.” [John 17:16,17,19]
Let me paraphrase that into plain English, less there be any confusion: Yeshua was in the middle of a prayer for His disciples. It is the evening of the Last Supper. Yeshua is about to be arrested. He knows exactly what is coming. He asks God not to remove them from the world, but, instead, to protect them from the evil one (verse 15), then he says – ‘these disciples don’t follow the way of the world, in the same way that I don’t – they look to you. Make them spiritually clean by means of Your truth. Your word is truth, and I am your word. What I am about to suffer is the fulfilment of your word; your truth. It will bring about their spiritual cleansing through my suffering.’
To empathize that the actions of Yeshua was for the purpose of making the church – the body of believers – clean, the apostle Paul writes this:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” [Ephesians 5:25-27]
It is clear in what both Yeshua and Paul said, that being made spiritually clean comes from the word of God. If we want to be made pure, it can only happen through God and His word. Yeshua should be seen as the fulfilment of God’s word, and we should look to both the written word of the Old Testament and the life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua in order for us to get to know the true nature of God, that we might be made pure.
The blessing that Yeshua delivers comes with the promise of reward in the shape of being able to see God. Whilst it is unlikely that we will actually see God this side of eternity, Yeshua is telling us that if we are made pure by believing in Him and His words, we will see God at work in all aspects of our lives. The apostle Paul encourages us to do just this in his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth. It comes in a passage where he talks also about suffering and how not to become cynical when we face it. The definition of being cynical is this:
Believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest. Distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-18
3. The Peacemakers
This particular blessing is often taken literally by the world, and applied to individuals who stand between warring nations or factions, and who try to stabilize a worldly peace. Yeshua wasn’t addressing this blessing to the handful of individuals who could generally be described as peacemakers. He was talking to all believers who make spiritual peace with God.
Until we come to believe in Yeshua, and that His life, death, and resurrection secured for us peace with God, we cannot access that peace. The Bible teaches us that through the Cross, God has already reconciled all men to Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). That is everyone. But we can only access it through believing that it was achieved by Yeshua.
This blessing is for those who believe the message of the Cross, and the reward is to be called the sons of God. This means that we will also share in the inheritance of the earth. I believe this refers to the 1,000 year reign of Yeshua when He returns to earth. We are taught that we who are reconciled to God will reign with the Christ for a thousand years (see Revelation 20:1-6).
We must also remember than when we are dealing with the word peace, we are talking not of peace as the world views – that is, life without war, but as the Hebrews view it – shalom.
Shalom means completeness, wholeness, and fullness. One of the names given by God to His Son, Yeshua, is Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom). It is He who is our peace. It is He who made peace with God possible. The fullness that shalom refers to describes what we need in our lives to feel whole and reconciled to God. For an excellent definition of the true meaning of peace, click here.
What Jesus was saying in this blessing is that those who show others that God has made peace with all mankind through trusting in His Son Jesus, will be treated as His own children and share in the inheritance He has for all His children.