We have already seen that as Jesus went forth proclaiming the Kingdom, that healing, and restoration of wholeness went in His wake, for the restoration of wholeness, including the restoration of relationships torn by the hostility of this world is something within the very character of God. A peacemaker is someone who places a high priority on restoring relationships, even with those considered to be enemies; this is also what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
On the other hand, many, maybe even most people of this world are not peacemakers. Look around you, this world is not a peaceful place, for people vie with each other for riches, for position and advantage. Such people are not making peace and restoring relationships, except for personal gain; this is not the behavior of a disciple, and thus the blessing of a restored relationship with God is not present in the here and now, and it is not likely to be found in the hereafter unless changes are made.
For the disciple, blessing in great supply is to be found in restoring wholeness and relationships; it is its own reward, and as a disciple the eternal future is both assured and very bright, for there will be blessing beyond imagination in store.
The expression “pure in heart” refers to a person whose inner most thoughts, motivation and purpose are pure, clean, wholesome and good; this is the one who will see God. To see God is to believe in God, and even more basic, they believe God; such a person is blessed indeed.
The person who is not pure in heart will not see God, possibly because he would rather not see Him. The person who is not pure in heart is one whose inner motivations are not wholesome or good, but are more likely centered on self, gain and getting what they want at whatever cost; they are not blessed because there is little room in their lives for a relationship with Him.
Mercy is the most fundamental aspect of our relationship with God. We only have a relationship with God because of His tremendous mercy, for without it, we are permanently estranged from Him. Thus, Jesus teaches mercy on our parts as a foundational requirement of being His disciple.
We have received His mercy; we are to show mercy to others when the occasion arises. We have received His love; we are to show love to others. How can we show mercy without love, and love without mercy? Yes, this is fundamental.
The person who has received God’s mercy and who shares God’s mercy with others, both through the Gospel and through our own attitudes and actions, will in the end, receive mercy when those who have refused it receive God’s judgment; this is also a fundamental truth.
Now we come to the reversal of this: What kind of person does not show mercy to others?
The ruthless, the cruel, the inhumane, the purely evil…
Will they receive mercy: of course not, they will be judged. Will they be blessed in this life by relationship with God? No, for they live in open rebellion against Him. Will they receive mercy in the end? No, they will receive justice instead.
I doubt that I need to discuss what it means to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” so let’s jump directly to what will become of the one who has no such desire. I think we can safely assume that the one who has no such desire will not be blessed, and one who hungers and thirsts for wickedness will not only find what they are looking for, but they will also find God’s curse in His judgment. Such a person will always need to be looking over his shoulder, will be running from the law, and will seldom have a restful night’s sleep; if they are lucky, they’ll live long enough to die from stress related illness, if not they will die by the sword. Anybody want to sign up for that?
As with the other beatitudes, there is an apocalyptic element to this (see Isaiah 61). God’s ultimate gift to Mankind is the gift of righteousness, for when Jesus returns and culminates his Church, all evil will be eliminated and the righteous will abide eternally in His Kingdom without pain, suffering, oppression or death: Blessed indeed!
A person who is “meek” is often thought of as being resigned to their circumstances, even weak, but that really isn’t what is being described here. Those who are “meek” are those who understand that they are dependent upon God, and not upon their own strength or even upon the power of armies, for our own strength is a temporary affair, as is the might of an army; all will perish. Yet God’s strength is eternal, and His might never flags or fails. With this in mind, consider who is not meek; the proud, the loud, and the haughty. These are the ones who must always dominate others, who must always have the last word, and who will trample others to get ahead, for they fear losing control: They are not blessed for their own behavior is their curse.
The meek will inherit the earth, just like the descendants of Abraham would inherit the Land. Once again, Matthew has linked an idea relating to Jesus with Israelite history, and this time, He has done so in a way that leads us to an apocalyptic conclusion, for those who place their full faith and trust in God for their provision will not only enjoy relationship with Him now, but will reign with Him upon His return, thus receiving a double blessing of His grace.