This week we are considering the seventh Beatitude,
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
We can define a peacemaker as those who seek to bring people to peace with God and others.
Today, we are considering that our becoming peacemakers, begins with Jesus being our peacemaker. Many love the idea that Christians are to love peace. However, most fail to understand that that the Christian message begins with a call to be restored to peace with God, which has been broken through our sin. John the Baptist spoke of Jesus,
‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29)
This points to Jesus being our sacrifice for sin to restore peace with God. Peace is the cessation of hostilities. Before we become Christians, the hostility is two ways: our hearts are hostile and rebellious to God; but, secondly, God is angry - justly - over our sin. This is the dual peace that Jesus came to restore between us and God. Paul writes,
’14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ (Ephesians 2:14-18).
In this text, Paul points to the peace that is created between Jew and non-Jew through Jesus. However, I want to focus on the peace that everyone can have with God.
2:14. What do you think is meant by this wonderful phrase ‘he himself is our peace’?
2:16. How does Jesus create peace between different people groups?
2:17. Paul speaks of the Jews as ‘near’ and the Gentiles as ‘far’. However, what do they both need?
2:18. In this text, through whom, and to what, are we ‘reconciled’?
2:18. It’s ‘through him’ - through Jesus - that we all have ‘access to the Father by one Spirit’. What does this mean and how does it affect our lives?
Jesus is our peacemaker. No past, present or future performance gives or maintains our peace with God. The good news is that ‘He himself is our peace’! His perfect, sinless life and death as our substitute has given us peace and access to the Father at all times.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - COMING SOON
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
In particular, if you are married, do sign up for our marriage evening on 13th February.
Are there circumstances in which you feel that you have to put on a 'show' - you are tempted to be inauthentic?
Introduction - please share in your group
This week in our discipleship series, we are considering the sixth of the Beatitudes,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
We can define a pure heart as unmixed or sincere in its devotion to God. It’s authenticity. It’s doing things to be seen by God rather than doing things to be seen by people.
Jesus regularly pointed to the religious leaders of his day as those who looked good on the outside, but who were doing their acts for a show; they were often not pure in heart! Jesus said of them,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28
We are often more concerned about the outward, but Jesus is most concerned for the hidden - the motives of the heart. Jesus urges us,
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)