verse VIII – the beatitudes – matthew 5:1-12
Purity of heart in the messianic life is evidence of the working of the Lord in us. His power to heal the old and current hurts, the frustrations, and the anger that so often leads to bitterness. When we can relate to others, and respond with loving-action absent of bitterness, we are beginning to mature in faith as a direct result of this internal cleansing, as Messiah’s use of the adjective “pure” signifies this change in our condition.
A peacemaker develops from a place of purity, as we read, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Immediately, we notice the identification of peacemakers as “sons of God;” a designation that implies likeness, similarity and relationship to Him. The pure in heart, of the previous beatitude, will see God; but the peacemaker will be called a “son” or “child” of God. The privilege, the blessing, and the joy of such a relationship – to be recognized as a child of the Most High. To see and experience God as Father indicates a restoration of relationship between humanity and the covenant Lord – an Edenic return. Further, it indicates that the child trusts their Father as the supplier of their needs (Phil. 4:19).
Peace – shalom.
שָׁלוֹם, shalom, is a masculine noun meaning “completeness, soundness, welfare, wholeness and peace.” It comes from the verb root שָׁלַם meaning to make “amends, repair, make safe, repay,” demonstrating actions that heal or repair or keep safe human life and relationships. These definitions will help us to conceptualize what it is to be a “peacemaker.”
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Gideon calls upon the name of “Jehovah Shalom,” meaning “the Lord of peace,” when he offered sacrifice (Judges 6:24); and one of the messianic titles of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures is שַׂר־שָׁלֹֽום, “Prince of Peace.” These examples speak of and point to the Lord as repairer, healer, restorer – and expectation of Who He is, and what He has done and will do.
The Lord sent His Son, Yeshua, to reconcile man to Himself (Isa. 53). As the apostle Paul explains, “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19).
Yeshua cries out to all in need of shalom – repair, healing, hope, wellness and peace – as He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I shall give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is gentle and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Yeshua, as the peacemaker of peacemakers, will provide what the human heart truly desires – peace.
Followers of Messiah have been entrusted with the “word of reconciliation,” to proclaim the message of Yeshua, and the peace that comes by faith in Him. Nevertheless, to be a peacemaker – a repairer, a supplier, a provider, an eye-dryer – is not easy; and in the messianic faith, according to how Yeshua teaches this in the beatitudes, before we can be peacemakers, we must first be humble, faithful, merciful and pure in heart.
To be a peacemaker, we must have some objectivity about who we are apart from the Lord and who we are in Him. The agape-love skill set is therefore based upon a higher and wider perspective than our natural condition allows for. It places the self at the end of the list of priorities. It places godly concern for others ahead of concern for self. Because, to be a peacemaker is to be a healer in every sense of the word – to mend what has been rent. The peacemaker experiences a delight in their heart at the sight of what is holy, right and good being restored in people’s lives – and I acknowledge the broadness of that statement – but broad is the definition of the peacemaker, as broad and diverse as humanity itself.
To be or not to be.
In order to be a peacemaker, you must first be at peace yourself – you must be whole in Messiah. I cannot recount the number of times, as a shepherd, that I have been asked to serve as a mediator between parties only to have one or both parties attempt to make me part of the argument – especially in marital counseling, an easy snare of be caught by. Without peace in our hearts and a firm control over our own bitterness/anger, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be a peacemaker – you cannot make someone whole when you yourself are broken, as you are drawn in by that brokenness.
In Matthew 5:23-26, which we will consider in more depth later, Yeshua stresses the importance of wholeness and peace in the human relationship. Before you bring sacrifice – or song in a contemporary sense – be reconciled to the one who is carrying a grudge against you. I admit the potential complexity of such a direction. In some cases this type of reconciliation is simply not possible, but as much as depends on us, we should make every attempt to make whole a broken relationship. Making peace may involve us to take an active role or a passive role.
Active or passive?
In this text, the one who remembered that a brother had something against him took an active role to make peace before he offered his gift to the Lord. The one who had the issue was in the passive role, allowing, potentially, peace to be established. This harkens back to the meaning of שָׁלַם, in order to make peace, we often have to make people whole again.
As a peacemaker there will be times when you take the active role to establish peace or the passive role to allow it to happen – but the underlying mechanism for peace remains the same. The ego must be set aside. Humility is the order of the day. We must be unselfish in participation – not demanding our own good be met first. Peace mends the broken shell of humanity by the donation of the power that once fueled the ego to anger and bitterness.
Contrary to popular opinion, it takes great strength of character to set the ego aside and appear to be weak or vulnerable. Yet, this is exactly what Yeshua did – and what He expects us to do. He is our example. I pray we learn to imitate our Father in heaven and our Savior, Yeshua, by seeking peace in our homes, our congregations, and our communities. Amen.
Shalom: be well – be whole – be complete – be repaired – and be a shalom-maker to those around you.