Jesus is showing us what it’s like to live when he is King. And here, he says his subjects will be peacemakers—and they should be congratulated. They will be recognised as God’s children (Matthew 5:9).
It’s not surprising to find that we are being given this task. God is the God of peace (Heb. 13:20). It’s what he’s like. It’s how he operates and what he’s creating.
And then, Jesus is the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). He’s come to implement this purpose of God.
Making peace between people may be one of the hardest things we ever do in this world. All of us start off going our own way. Making peace between us is not going to be easy!
It starts with parents sorting out squabbles among siblings. It continues as counsellors, managers and negotiators struggle with competing interests—and egos.
So, peacemakers are going to need all the qualities already commended in these beatitudes—humility, mercy and meekness for example, mourning for the pain being caused and purity that can be trusted.
As this Gospel proceeds, we find Jesus creating division rather than peace (10:34). That’s because there’s a rival ‘peace’ and Jesus must expose it. Clearly, the peacemaking of God’s children isn’t just negotiating human interests.
Peace with one another begins with peace with God (Ephesians 2:14-18). Without this, we’re trying to be our own ‘god’—defending our territory and securing the interests of our group. We’ll look at this further in the next article.
So, being a peacemaker is not just being the ‘nice’ person in an angry crowd.
In the end, Jesus makes peace by dying for us (Colossians 1:19-22). He reconciles us angry sinners to his Father!
We are going to need all the perspective and all the power that comes from having our own irritable self-concern put to rest by this wonderful reconciliation.
We don’t know what this is like until it happens! But when it does, we understand how deep the need of everyone around us is for God’s mind-boggling peace (Philippians 4:5-7).
And now, the Lord is sending us out as peacemakers (Isaiah 52:7)! All of us would like peace to be created for us—a change of circumstances. But Jesus reconciles us to his Father so we can be his servants in a hostile environment.
The letter of James has many similarities to the Sermon on the Mount. This is not surprising because its writer is probably the step brother of Jesus. He has spent years watching what peacemaking is like!
Here’s what he says about making peace (James 3:13-18).
It starts with living well—or wisely. This is not simple. We need to stop thinking we are great! We need to say ‘No’ to our selfishness! We need to know that what we’ve been given is so others will benefit.
This will make us realise that peacemaking comes down from our Father in heaven and from our Saviour. Many times, we will need to go back to what Jesus has done, learn from his patience, receive his forgiveness, be settled by his faithful presence and strengthened by his love. In other words, we’ll need to know these beatitudes!
What happens next—whatever it produces among others—will be pure, peace-loving, considerate, merciful, impartial and sincere. People may recognise the Father in his children.
But whether they do or not, the Father will recognise his children, and congratulate them!