Happiness is… Blessed are the Peacemakers

By: Donnell Wyche – October 27, 2019


We’re so glad you are here with us this morning. We’re grateful for you and the gifts of God that you bring with you into this space. As a church we partner with the liberating presence of God to cultivate joy, hope & belonging as Jesus invites us into freedom, keeps us free, and helps us free others. We pray that whether this is your first time with us this morning, or you’ve been a part of our community for a while, that you will feel the invitation of the Holy Spirit to join in with our vision. If you are looking for a church home, we would love to be your church home, and I, in particular would love to become your pastor.

We are continuing our journey through the Beatitudes this morning. Matthew describes them in Chapter 4 as the sick and their caretakers, people in pain, epileptics, demon-possessed, paralytics, from all over Israel and from the nearby cities. As you enter into the text with me, imagine that this audience represents the full spectrum of the human experience. Each of them there with their own story, their own understanding of God, themselves, and how they fit within God’s larger the story of creation. When he saw the crowds that gathered to hear him teach, he went up on a mountainside, a hotbed of terrorist activity, and began to teach them. It’s here that he announces… 

Blessed… or Happy….

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3–12)

Jesus wasn’t giving us a new list of moral virtues that mark the person who is welcomed in the Kingdom. He wasn’t laying out new boundaries, markers of who’s in and who’s out. Jesus is telling us a better story, a Kingdom story, about what Happiness is. About living as a community whose King is the God of Heaven and Earth. This list is a description of the way things are for the People of God.

Last week we considered the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” today we consider,

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Scholars offer that Jesus was condemning the Zealots, the Jewish revolutionaries who hoped their violent resistance to Rome would usher in the Kingdom of God. They were seeking justice and weren’t afraid to use violence to accomplish their goals. Glen Harold Stassen says, that these “Zealots believed their militarism would demonstrate that they were the loyal ‘sons of God.’ ”

But Jesus says,

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

When we talk about peace, we tend to think about it only in terms of war or fighting. While biblical discussions of peace include the cessation of fighting (Isaiah 11), the scriptures also talk about peace as reconciliation, as forgiveness, as restoration, as reparations, and as the loving relationships between individuals, families, communities, and nations.

Peace in this understanding expands out from just inner peace or peace with ourselves to include working in ways that disrupts the injustice that breaks relationships, that oppresses people, and disrupts the harmony and cooperation between people. 

Therefore, peace making is the work we do and participate in that brings conflicts to an end, that establishes reconciliation between two or more parties who are at odds or at war. The work of peace makers creates equitable power and power relationships that are able to endure preventing future conflicts. The peace makers insert themselves in the midst of our conflicts and declare there is another way forward.

The peace makers in our lives are often the ones who broker hard conversations between conflicting parties. Like instead of participating in the gossip between your friends who are in conflict, the peace maker tries to broker a conversation that might open the door to reconciliation and peace. Having been at both ends of this kind of meeting, I’m grateful for those who work towards making peace. 

The peace makers are the ones who are angry at injustice and are moved to action. The peace makers are the folks who reject the idea of peace at any cost. They also know and understand that in order for peace to be enduring, it requires acknowledging how we have participated in breaking peace and that we take responsibility for our actions and make amends.

It’s as if they are a living embodiment of what Paul writes about in Romans 12:14-19

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:14-19) 

I’m struck by Paul’s acknowledgement that peace requires the cooperation of others, and as we pursue peace, we will discover that peace making causes conflict. 

Peace demands justice. 

Jesus is considered the Prince of Peace, and at the same time, he called out sin among the leaders in Israel. He confronted the hypocrites. He challenged the way the nation operated with a “business as usual” mentality. He even seemed to flip a few a tables. The peace that Jesus ushered in demanded justice.

This is the peace that he leaves to us.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) 

Peace is highly valued now, and it was highly valued in the Greco-Roman world, just not the kind of peace that the scriptures describe. The wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, prosperity, and right relationships kind-of-peace of the scripture. This kind of peace is often described as the shalom of God, this peace carried with it the implication of permanence. Peace in Rome was the pax romana, a type of false peace because this peace was accomplished as the Empire used violence, force, and dominion. It is easy to accomplish peace when you have vanquished all of your enemies. There’s a weak side to this kind of false peace, which is a form of passivity that accepts all and any disorders and suffering at any cost in exchange for stability, calm, or normalized relations.

But the peace that shows up in the scriptures is a peace that seeks wholeness, completion, and reconciliation with ourselves, our relationship with God, and reconciliation between each other.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Peace is never the easy path. Retribution and revenge is. You slap me, I slap you harder. You rob me, I burn down your village.

But what is missed here is that the sting of the slap I received from you isn’t removed when I slap you harder in retaliation. The loss of what was taken when you robbed me isn’t restored when I burn down your village.

This is why we need the peace makers. We need those who are willing to have the hard conversations in our lives so that we can restore what was taken, we can offer and receive forgiveness. We need those who are willing to broker peace. We need what Paul says, is 

 the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, [so that it] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

For that we need Jesus. We need to learn from him and learn his ways of brokering peace. I’m struck by the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was someone who broke the peace of his community by participating in, enforcing, and profiting from the oppression of his own people. The story goes that Zacchaeus was too short to see Jesus as he was passing through Jericho, so he climbed a sycamore tree. Jesus sees Zacchaeus and invites himself over for dinner.

The crowd that had just praised God because of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus turn on Jesus.

 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” (Luke 19:1-7)

The crowd in this story shuns Jesus because of guilt by association — Zacchaeus is guilty, he’s an oppressor. Because Zacchaeus is a sinner therefore Jesus is guilty too, he must be a sinner too. What did Jesus do to deserve this rejection from the crowd? Invite himself to dinner with Zacchaeus. What on earth could happen at the dinner that would cause the crowds to turn on Jesus so quickly–from praising God for his healing presence… to shunning him? Maybe it’s not what happens at the dinner, but that Jesus would associate with someone who is a sinner, someone who is unclean, someone who oppresses others.

Listen for just a moment how Paul describes in Ephesians how Jesus is our peace. 

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesian 2:14-18)

Peace for us was really costly for Jesus, but it was worth it to achieve this radically inclusive family held together by the Holy Spirit.

In this story with Zacchaeus, if the crowd knew that by dining with Jesus, Zacchaeus would repent, stop his oppression, and make reparations, they would have welcomed it. They would have encouraged Jesus to dine with all oppressors! They might even invite Jesus to teach them his table fellowship ways so that they could bring an end to all oppression.

Luke skips the details of the transition from the road to Zacchaeus’ house. He picks up midway through the dinner after they have eaten and reclined at the table.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)

Paul says that Jesus preached peace to those who were far and those who were near. In eating with Zacchaeus, Jesus was demonstrating God’s peace. Zacchaeus was guilty. And Jesus accepts Zacchaeus which allowed Zacchaeus to lower his defenses, opening the door to his repentance. Remember it’s God’s compassion that leads us to repentance. The repentance that we see in Zacchaeus makes way for peace. For him and for those he harmed.

This is what peace makers do. They invite us to repentance. Repentance that admits our wrongs, seeks forgiveness, and where possible makes restitution to those we have harmed. Peace makers trust and are surrendered to God because they know that God in Christ makes peace with us. So they participate in God’s grace when they abandon efforts to get peace through the destruction of their enemies. 

So hear Jesus,

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Prayer Senses

Freedom from shame. The Lord is delivering you from a spirit of shame. You don’t have to hide any more. Let Jesus take the pain and remove the stains of shame. He’s going to help you forgive yourself and those who hurt you so you can move on. You’re not alone and you’re not dirty. 

Encouragement. Someone has a testimony about what the Lord has done for them, but they’ve been afraid to share it. The Lord says it is a beautiful story and it has a purpose. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith and share what the Lord has given you to say. 

Provision and peace. The Lord is releasing rest as you agree with the truth: that your needs matter to God, and that He will never let you go. The Lord is keeping you through this tough time. Let His love hold you. 

Perseverance and trust. Don’t give up. 

Healing from abuse and abandonment. The Lord is releasing help to those who do not trust His goodness. The Lord never left you. He was right there with you. The past does not have a hold on you. 

Invitation from the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to teach you about what it means to be holy. He’s inviting you to know more about who He I and who you truly are. 

Courage to tell. Jesus loves you. It wasn’t your fault. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Reconciliation with parents. The Lord wants to heal families and to help children forgive their parents. If you are a parent in need of forgiveness, the Lord would like to minister to you today, releasing hope and grace for a better future. 


Matthew 7:11. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Isaiah 49:25. For thus says the LORD: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.

Isaiah 61:3. To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.