Matthew 5:6–9 - The Beatitudes Continued
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Although the unbelieving world believes that the people of God are quite colorless, Jesus reveals that they are capable of strong feelings. Hunger and thirst are strong sensations. Contrary to common belief, Christians do not hunger and thirst after the love and mercy of God, according to this text, but after righteousness.
Righteousness does not always have the same meaning in Scripture. The word is sometimes employed to denote that perfection of God which reveals his perfect holiness. At other times the word is used to reveal that benefit which the believer has received on the basis of the merits of Christ whereby his guilt is removed, It is therefore used of both God’s perfection and the gift to redeemed man. How does Jesus use the term here?
We must remember that Jesus is speaking of the qualifications of the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. These hunger and thirst for righteousness. They possess the righteousness which Christ gives. They now hunger and thirst for the righteousness of the King to be revealed. There is so much unrighteousness in the world. They cannot stand it! God’s truth and right must be displayed. This is not merely a wish on their part, but it becomes a consuming passion. God is not honored in the area of unrighteousness. His Kingdom must encompass all things and righteousness must be displayed everywhere.
Again Jesus calls them blessed. They display the right attitude. They are not indifferent to the things going on in the world. They are true citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Their reward — they shall be filled, The future will see the triumph of the righteousness of God.
“Blessed arc the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”.
The modernist loves these words. Nothing is said of faith or of blood-theology, but only humane works. Many individuals busy themselves in relieving the needs of others. It is heart-warming to read of wonderful deeds of kindness shown to people in disaster areas by their fellow-men.
Is the heart of man as bad as Scripture teaches? Are not the people who show this compassion declared to be blessed by Jesus himself?
The mercy of which Jesus speaks in this text is not a common human characteristic. That mercy proceeds from a heart which has been renewed by the Spirit of God. The ministry of mercy finds its true place only in the church of Christ. Mercy is spiritual.
The good deeds performed by an individual for his fellow human being in need are often considered to be meritorious. A large section of Christendom has fallen into this error. The works of mercy are not to be despised; in fact, Christ calls the merciful blessed. Yet, he makes it ever so clear that these works of mercy are not meritorious. They shall obtain mercy. Even though they have been merciful to others, they are still in need of mercy themselves. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will show mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Can it be said of any man that he is pure in heart? The Bible teaches unmistakably that the heart of man is desperately wicked. No one is pure. All have sinned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). This is said of believers. Is Jesus then referring to non-existent creatures when he speaks of the pure in heart?
However, Jesus spoke of Nathanael as “an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile” (John 1:47). David also spoke of the man whose sins are forgiven “and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalm 32:2). This is not contradictory. By nature there is not one who does good. Through redemption the individual begins to live from a new principle which is holy. Those who live from this new principle are the ones whom Jesus calls “the pure in heart”. These do not merely possess this new principle; this principle governs their lives. They desire to walk, not according to some but according to all the commandments of God.
Small wonder that these are called blessed. These are his children. These are the people after his own heart.
Their blessedness will be shown in this that they shall see God. No one has ever seen God. God does not possess a body so that he might be seen of men. How the angels rejoiced when they saw the Christ! Although he came with a human nature, he is God. The Bible also teaches us that no man shall see God and live. But the pure in heart shall see him — and they shall live. John also speaks of seeing him as he is (I John 3:2). God’s people, the pure in heart, have seen his wonderful works; but, in the end they shall see HIM! How glorious it will be when we see God. That is promised to those who are pure in heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
This statement has much in common with that found in verse 7. There the mcrciful were declared blessed, and here the peacemakers receive this commendation. Must we be pacifists? Must we have peace at all costs? To ask these questions is to answer them. The Bible is not pacifistic.
We must remember that the same individuals are meant in all the beatitudes. Each person must have all these characteristics to be a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven. Just think, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness must be peacemakers!
God’s people must be peacemakers. They must seek to put away the enmity between men. They may not be indifferent to the conditions which they find in the world round about them. They know where this enmity has begun. They must point out to those who are at enmity with each other the only way of reconciliation. They may not seek self. If need be, they must turn the other cheek. Let the world know that peace can be obtained only from the God of peace.
Those who are indeed peacemakers are rewarded by being declared blessed. This blessedness consists of being called sons of God. This expression means being sons of God. They are sons of God because they are like him. He is the God of peace and his Son is the Prince of peace.
Questions For Discussion
- Do we hunger and thirst as much for righteousness as for God’s love and mercy?
- Do you feel that the ministry of mercy is stressed enough today?
- What more does the ministry of mercy in the church demand than relieving the financial need of a family?
- Where do perfectionists find the basis for their beliefs? How would you refute their arguments?
- Have the angels ever seen God? See Isaiah 6:2.
- Why does a Christian make the best mediator in a dispute?