Sermon Title: “The Jesus’ Way of Peace Making: We are called to be Peacemakers”
Text: Matthew 5:9
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
This morning, I would like to talk to you about the Jesus’ way of being a peacemaker. Both in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, there’s an urgent call of Jesus to his followers to pursue peace and to be peacemakers.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (and daughters) of God.”
— Matthew 5:9
A. Questions about Peacemaking Initiatives
Let’s begin with some important questions: Who is a peacemaker? What is the character of a peacemaker? What are the attributes a peacemaker demonstrates in public? What are the steps for one to become a peacemaker? Who is your peacemaker model? Can you name someone in your life who is an exemplary model of peacemaker? Is it Jesus? or should we ask Is Jesus a good Model of a Peace Maker?
In all these things, we must remember that peacemaking is a process, not an event. It is a journey. It will not come easy; sometimes, it is painful, discouraging, difficult, hurtful, and even brings division, social alienation, and discomfort. The process of peacemaking may require a series of important steps such as: admitting the wrong doing or something is wrong, taking responsibility for one’s action, asking for forgiveness, humility, change of heart and attitude, reconciliation, friendship, and unity. The opposite of peacemaking is troublemaking, one who causes conflict, alienation, division, strife, disunity, or one who sows hate or hatred among people. Peacemaking is a commitment as reconciliation is. One must commit himself or herself to pursuing peace, to living peaceably, to extend peace to others, and to be a peacemaking dispenser or agent. First, we must remember that our salvation in Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the first divine transformative initiation in which God the Peacemaker par excellent deliberately pursued us to remove the alienation and division that had once separated us between He and us.
- The Historical Context of Matthew 5:9
- Four Jewish Sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots
- Origin: during the reign of Herod the Great (c. 6 BC)
- Period: Participated in the Jewish-Roman War (A.D. 66-73). Were among the last defenders again the Romans at Masada in A.D 73.
Beliefs and Ideologies
- “They opposed payment of taxes to a pagan emperor because they believe that allegiance was due to God alone.”
- “They were fiercely loyal to Jewish tradition.”
- 3. “They endorsed the use of violence as long as it accomplished a good end.”
- 4. “They were opposed to the influence of Greek pagan culture in the Holy Land” (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, page 1658)
“First Jewish Revolt, (ad 66–70), Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judaea. The First Jewish Revolt was the result of a long series of clashes in which small groups of Jews offered sporadic resistance to the Romans, who in turn responded with severe countermeasures. In the fall of ad 66 the Jews combined in revolt, expelled the Romans from Jerusalem, and overwhelmed in the pass of Beth-Horon a Roman punitive force under Gallus, the imperial legate in Syria. A revolutionary government was then set up and extended its influence throughout the whole country. Vespasian was dispatched by the Roman emperor Nero to crush the rebellion. He was joined by Titus, and together the Roman armies entered Galilee, where the historian Josephus headed the Jewish forces. Josephus’ army was confronted by that of Vespasian and fled. After the fall of the fortress of Jatapata, Josephus gave himself up, and the Roman forces swept the country. On the 9th of the month of Av (August 29) in ad 70, Jerusalem fell; the Temple was burned, and the Jewish state collapsed, although the fortress of Masada was not conquered by the Roman general Flavius Silva until April 73.” Source: https://www.britannica.com/event/First-Jewish-Revolt
- According to Craig Keener, “Many first-century Jews had begun to think that revolutionary violence was the only adequate response to the violence of oppression they experienced. Matthew’s first audience no doubt could recall the bankruptcy of this approach, which led to crushing defeat in the Jewish war of A.D. 66-73. But Jesus promises the kingdom not to those who try to force God’s hand in their time but to those who patiently and humbly wait for it—the meek, the poor in spirit, the merciful, the peacemakers. Of course, Jesus’ demand does not merely challenge the bloodshed of revolution. Peacemakers means not only living a peace but bringing harmony among others; this role requires us to work for reconciliation with spouses, neighbors and all peoples—insofar as the matter is up to us (Rom. 12:18) (Keener, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 1015)
- In other words, “Some Judeans and Galileans believed that God would help them wage war against the Romans to establish God’s Kingdom, but Jesus assigns the kingdom instead to the meek (v.5), those who show mercy (v.7), those who are persecuted (v.10), and those who make peace (v.9)” (Keener, The IVP Bible Background, p. 1618).
- “The peacemaker is someone who is reconciled to God, knows God is for peace, and seeks reconciliation instead of strife and war. Jewish expectations for the messianic were for peace; hence, a peacemaker is a kingdom person (Isa. 9:5-6; Zech 9:9-10) (McKnight, The Sermon on the Mount, 46).
- Sons of God: “The word ‘sons/sons’ was used in the Jewish world to connect a person with an attribute (Matthew 8:12; 9:15; 13:38; 23:31) or a person. Thus, a ‘son of God’ here denotes someone who is on God’s side, implying that God is a God of peace” (Rom 16:20) (McKnight, Ibid, p. 48)
B. Interpreting Matthew 5:9
Two major interpretations
- Pacifism/nonviolent resistance: this view states that this beatitude teaches pacificism or non-violent resistance.
- Interpersonal relations: this view claims that in this beatitude disciples of Jesus should not use violence in their personal life “but they can participate in international/military violence,” what is famously called the “just war” theory. St. Augustine, and the Reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther upheld that view.
As Scott McKnight states, “regardless of our posture toward the state, the military, or other countries, the goal of the follower of Jesus is peace. But we are to admit that the means is not as clear. That is, while we should all desire peace, how we get there may differ” (page 48.)
“This beatitude goes beyond a merely peaceful disposition to an active attempt to ‘make’ peace, perhaps by seeking reconciliation with one’s own enemies, but also more generally by bringing together those who are estranged from one another” (France, The Gospel of Mathew, p. 169).
- To be called “sons of God” means that those who pursue peace and are peacemakers are like God because God is the ultimate peacemaker. By being a peacemaker, the people of God who promote peace share this divine attribute and virtue with God.
- “Sons of God are those who manifest the God-life, do as God does, perform God’s talk in the world” (Robinson/Qtd in Morris, The Gospel of Matthew, p.101)
- “The word peacemakers is found only here in the New Testament…There is a quality of peaceblenesss, a disinclination to engage in disputes, that is admirable, but Jesus is talking about more than that. He refers not to peace-keepers but to peace-makers, people who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together…These are not appeasers, but those who actively overcome evil with good” (Morris, the Gospel of Matthew, p. 101).
- According to this beatitude, every disciple of Jesus is called to be a peacemaker. This is not a suggestion or an option, peacemaking is a character-virtue of a true follower of Christ. The call to be a peacemaker entails both personal and communal peace.
C. Expectations of a Kingdom of Peace
- Isaiah 26:12: indicates that it will God who bring peace to his people
- 54:10; 60:17-18; 52:7: These verses proclaim God as the Author and Architect of Peace: Promises of peace by God Himself:
- 31:1-5: judgment is pronounced against Israel for supporting and allying with Egypt to find help through military conquest instead of trusting in the Lord.
D. Jesus and the Practice of Peacemaking: Jesus as the Model of Peacemaker
- First Century Jews hated the Samaritans. In the Parable of the Good Samaritans in Luke 10:33-37, Jesus described the Samaritan providing hospitality and compassion to a stranger. Jesus himself acted with compassion and love toward a Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26). He practiced ethnic reconciliation and unity with those the majority people in his society demonized, dehumanized, despised, and socially rejected.
- First Century Jews saw the Gentiles as impure, outsiders, and those who deserved God’s condemnation and judgment. In the Gospels, Jesus sought to reconcile the Gentiles with God by associating, fellowshipping, and dining with them, bringing them peace, healing, joy of salvation, and extending hospitality to them. He healed a Gadarene demoniac (Matt 8:28-34). Among the ten lepers who were healed, one was a Samaritan, and Jesus praised the Samaritan foreigner for coming back to thank him (Luke 17:12-19). Jesus ministered a Canaanite woman and praised her for her faith (Matthew 15:24-28). Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion whose servant was sick (Matthew 8:8-12). The Jews hated Roman soldiers and Roman centurions and sought not only to vindicate themselves but to kill them by any means necessary. By contrast, Jesus showed grace to them, extending hospitality to them, and welcomed them to himself as he welcomed tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the lame, sinners, the poor, the outcast, the disabled, etc. of the Jewish society to himself. Jesus did not separate these people or discriminate against them as the Jewish people did; rather, he sought every opportunity to redeem them and befriend with them. In the Temple, Jesus cleansed the court of the Gentiles and said to the Jewish authorities that “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17).
- “Jesus never quoted passages that favor killing, war or national supremacy. He quoted only the passages that favor peacemaking…When something causes anger and divides us from another, we are to take the initiative of going to make peace, we are not to retaliate revengefully by evil means, but instead, we are to take transforming initiatives of peacemaking (Kingdom of Ethics, p. 154). In the Garden, Jesus refused retaliation and sparked a war against his enemies when one of his disciples took the sword and cuts the ear of a soldier. He took it and healed them. As Yoder said, “The temptation to refuse the cup is precisely the temptation to resort to armed resistance. Jesus, however, chooses the way of suffering obedience instead of the way of violence…At the moment of Jesus’ arrest, he admonishes the disciple who attempts armed resistance: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:51-54) (Quoted in Kingdom Ethics, p. 157).
- The greatest peacemaking movement Jesus assigned to his disciples to take the Gospel to people who do not love your country, people who bombed your country, who kidnapped your missionaries, people who persecute Christians, and people who hate you.
E. The Jesus’ way is the only way of peace and unity for followers of Christ.
First, Believers should be peacemakers and are called to practice and initiate transformative peacemaking projects and relations:
Genesis 13:8-9 , “So, Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”
- Proverbs 12:20, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.”
- Isaiah 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
- Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification”/” So, then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
- Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
- Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
- James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Ways to be peacemakers
- Christians should not look to worldly leaders or their national leaders (i.e. kings, presidents, prime ministers or democrats, republicans, etc.) to bring peace
- Prosperity in the so-called First World or developed nations is not a sign of God’s grace blessing, or peace. In the same way, poverty in the so-called Third World or developing nations is not an indication of divine abandonment or God’s curse upon those nations. God’s presence is not measured by material blessings nor technological advances in those advanced societies.
- If we want peace in our land and desire to live peacefully as a people, we must be agents of peace here and elsewhere and must not support war and tyranny, and protagonists of human terror and oppression in other countries.
- If we’re serious about improving race relations and racial unity in this society and churches, we must be open to the possibility of forgiveness and of redemption; resentment will often delay forgiveness and reconciliation.
- It is crucial we allow space for the guilty party to mourn and repent of the wrongdoing. Retaliation of any form is never the most effective way to deal with this issue. It is the antithesis of grace. We have to practice & sustain unity and peace in the manner of Jesus, and never should we follow another way, as defined by the culture
Ways Christians are called not to pursue peace
- Retaliation and retribution: our natural impulse and disposition is to seek retribution and retaliation, and to hurt people so we can feel good about ourselves:
- Be a peace faker
- Avoid conflict
- Be silent on issues of social justice and controversial issues that are hurting people
- Be passive or silent on issues that make people suffer in our society
- Be a peace breaker
F. Principles or Ways of practicing Peace:
- Matthew 5:39-42
39 But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
- Matthew 5:21-26, 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
- Matthew 6:9-15: The Peacemaking Prayer,
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.[d]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- What is God calling you to risk today?
- Jesus is called the Peacemaker.
- God is the ultimate peacemaker
- The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace.
- Pursue reconciliation
- A true characteristic of God’s people is peace seekers and peace pursuers.
According to this Psalms, there are two hindrances to peace: lying and evil: a lying tongue and an evil heart
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it. —Ps. 34:12-14
Doing what is good and helpful to promote life will contribute to a community of peace, a city of peace, national peace, and worldly peace.
- The church is called to be peacemakers, pursue peace, and an agent of peace, at all cost
- The church should be an example of peace, makes of peace, bring peace to people, and people to peace. The people of God are called to be active bringers and keepers of peace.
- Peacemakers are those who work toward wholeness and harmony, not promoter of enmity, alienation, strife, and discord. Peacemakers are sons of God and God’s ambassadors in the world.
- Be on the side of peace
- We are called to the ministry of reconciliation. The church should encourage, promote, and foster reconciliation in our nation. We must be people who are committed to the ministry of reconciling people to each other.
- We need to be an example of peace in our community, in our city, in our nation, and in the world.
- Peacemakers are those who build bridges and be on the side of peace.
10 ways to pursue peace with people/ Ways for Christians to show peace-making initiative towards one another:
- The work of personal evangelism is the first step to reconcile people to Christ and to bring peace breakers, peacemakers, and peace to the God who pursues peace. Sharing with Jesus with the unchurched and the lost is the most passionate way a disciple of Christ can pursue peace.
- “The peacemaker, as the person whom Jesus blesses, seeks to reconcile—not by pretending there are no differences or by suppressing differences, but by creating love of the other that transcends differences or that permits the people to join hands in spite of differences. Jesus will speak of reconciliation on other occasions, and these perhaps are the best commentary on ‘peacemakers’ (5:21-26, 43-48; 6:14-15; 18:21-25). His framing of moral relations in terms of love (22:34-40) and servanthood (20:20-28) provide foundations for peacemaking” (McKnight, page 47).
- “Jesus urges peacemaking with outsiders, the lost, and the heretics. Likewise, his parable of the compassionate Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) urges peacemaking even with those who are a hated other” (Stassen, Living the Sermon on the Mount, p. 58).
- Recognize where there is a problem
- Peacemakers practice restraints
- Fight for social justice–on behalf of the weak
- Be concerned about the welfare and happiness of everyone in this country.
- Do not ignore people who are trying to get your attention about issues that bring suffering, pain, oppression, and death in their lives;
- Be empathetic and sympathetic toward the pain and suffering of other people;
- Let the Gospel of grace and love of God be the compass to guide your moral choices and ethical choices, and not your political ideologies and cultural preferences.
*** Do not be in solidarity with other people based on the shared skin color or economic status or family status; Christian solidarity is grounded on our common faith as Christians and common confession that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.
- How is God calling you to pursue peace today?
- Is there someone estranged in your life that he is calling you to reconcile to?
- What areas in your community, city, state, and nation G od is calling you to actively promote peace.
- What is God calling you to risk in your life to practice peace, unity, and reconciliation?
If the Gospel is not good news to radically transform the social, economic, and political order of the day, then it is not a complete Gospel.
God’s vision for the world is not simply his moving action toward the radical transformation of the human heart and the renewing of the mind; his idea of the new creation encompasses everything, including all the wrong doings and oppressive systems and structures free (human) agents have created in this world, through the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s redemptive plan does not simply disrupt spiritual darkness; it interrupts all spheres of life–especially the material world. The goal of God is for his peaceful kingdom to reign supremely in the world and in the heart of every individual, every family, in every nation, every country, every tribal group.
The Gospel is a holistic effective story for the global world, for the global people, and for the global order of things—toward the global peace. This is what makes the Gospel the good news!
A Prayer to God for Global Peace and Comfort!
Our gracious Father and living God: We lift up our hands to you and humble our hearts and minds before your holy throne. We pray for your comfort and peace on behalf of those who have been affected by terrorist attacks in England, Cameroon, Nigeria, and other places. We pray for the families who now mourn their loved ones who have been taken away from them by the forces of evil. In the same way, we beseech you on behalf of victims of terrorism and human violence in other parts of the world. May your radical love and transformative presence invade their hearts and souls. Give them sustaining peace and hope. Grant them doors of opportunity to dream again during despair, fear, and disappointment!
We pray Oh loving Father that you would grant us the courage and strength to work in solidarity to resist the forces of evil and systems of oppression in this world and those that come to exploit, oppress, and destroy the weak and the poor. We know that retaliation is not an effective way to reconciliation and peace the same way the oppression and exploitation of people and weak nations lead to alienation, enmity, and fear. We pray for repentance, forgiveness, world unity, peace, and reconciliation.
In your Name, we pray.