The Better Deal
THE BETTER DEAL
Matthew 5: 7-10
Recently Hillary Clinton resigned as the Secretary of State…and you may have seen that she is taking on a career that is more lucrative.
- In fact, she is going to do the same thing that her husband, Bill Clinton, is doing…she is going to hit the speaker circuit…
- The news reported this past week that Bill Clinton makes up to $290,000 per speech!
- $290,000 to hear someone talk.
- How much would you have to pay to get in and hear a $290,000 speaker?
- Well if you had a crowd of 1000 people…it would cost $290 per person.
- If you only drew 500 people it would be $480 dollars.
Now, I don’t know what Bill Clinton says when He speaks…I suspect what he says has a lot to do with politics, social conditions, foreign policy…and I may have it wrong but I would think that a $290,000 speech would be pretty powerful…pretty dynamic…and it would be a life changing experience!
But the truth is what Bill Clinton says or has said…will some day be forgotten…it will not endure.
- And as informative as he may be…what He has to say cannot and will not compare to what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount…
- And when it comes to a life changing experience…it is no contest.
- Jesus tells people who are “sitting in darkness…and sitting in the land of the Shadow of Death” a divinely guaranteed way to get out of that darkness and shadow.
- Jesus gives them hope…when they had no hope…He gives them assurance when there was no assurance…
- He tells us all how to cure the social, the moral, and the religious ills that are so evident in our society…
- And He does it all for free…
- I wonder, if He charged people $290 each to hear what He has to say, would He get bigger crowds?
Last week we looked at the first 4 beatitudes…this morning we are going to cover the next 4. Let me quickly give you the background:
- Jesus has settled in Capernaum…for centuries the people living in the area had been exposed to corrosive moral and religious influence of a pagan environment.
- Their political leaders were corrupt…and so too were their spiritual leaders.
- It was a time when the righteous man was treated like a criminal and the criminal ascended to positions of power.
- And it was a time when religious leaders were concerned more about popularity and prominence and wealth than they were the sound teachings of God.
- It was said that the people “Fear Jehovah, and serve other gods.”
- Isaiah said that the people were “sitting in darkness and in the land of the shadow of death.”
The people were in need of a message of “Hope and Change”…some “good news”…and Jesus brought it.
- “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- If they would only turn from their sinful ways…if they would only turn back to God…they could have all that the kingdom of heaven offers!
- And Jesus was going through out the region preaching and teaching…and the multitudes were following Him (social and religious outcasts, those who were banned from the temple and the synagogue, the lame, the sick, the diseased…people who were essentially without hope), and Jesus shared with them the “good news”…the “hope of the kingdom of heaven.
And here in chapter 5 He begins with what we call “The Beatitudes.”
- He tells them that they can have the “kingdom of heaven” and all that it holds if they will totally and completely humble themselves before God.
- He tells them that they can find “comfort” for their sins if they “mourn”…if they have a sincere, heartfelt sorrow their sin…a sorrow that leads to repentance.
- Then He tells them that they will “inherit the earth…the land”…that they will receive a “glorious inheritance” if they are truly “gentle” or “meek” toward others…a gentleness based on a true estimate of themselves and how God has treated them.
- Then He tells them that they can be deemed as “righteous” if they will “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
And now, we come to the 5th beatitude or vs. 7. Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Notice the blessing at the end of the statement: “…for they shall receive mercy.”
- The word “mercy” is the Greek word “eleeo” (el-eh-eh’-o)…it means “to have compassion…to have pity on”…it means you don’t give to someone what they deserve!
And that is something that these people needed…
- These people that Jesus is speaking too were sinners…they had been influenced by pagan religious practices…they had turned from God…they were “sitting in darkness”…they were liars, adulterers, bigots, slanderers…and because they were they stood condemned to an eternal punishment!
- These people deserved to be lost forever…destroyed.
- They were in need of God’s mercy!
And they could have it…if they themselves were merciful to others…
- I think Jesus well explains this beatitude in chapter 18 starting in vs. 23:
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 33’Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
- To receive mercy…you must show mercy.
- It didn’t matter if someone else had wronged them…if someone had lied to them…mistreated them…took advantage of them…it didn’t matter because after all, that is the way they had treated God.
And it didn’t matter what hardships or disasters had befallen someone else…
- And it didn’t matter who the “someone else” was…whether they were a Samaritan, or a Jew, or a Gentile…Jesus doesn’t specify here who they were to show mercy too…
- He just simply says, “If you want to receive mercy…then you “Be merciful…be compassionate…take pity on” others regardless of who they are.
Look at verse 8 and beatitude 6: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- “…for they shall see God”; that is something that no one has ever done in this life.
- But for these people that Jesus is speaking too…and for some of us…that is what we long to do…
- And Jesus says that “seeing God” is something that the “pure in heart” will get to do.
- Who are the “pure in heart?” What does He mean?
The most popular interpretation is “pure in heart” refers to the inward purity…those whose hearts are morally clean.
- And there is good Biblical precedent for that.
Look at Psalms 24:3-4
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully.
Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
There are several passages in the scriptures that indicate that to be “pure in heart” is talking about having an inward purity…a morality of the heart…and that is for sure part of what Jesus has in mind here.
However, in the context of the other beatitudes “pure in heart” seems to be speaking of sincerity…being authentic.
- In fact, look at Psalms 24 again:
Psalms 24:3-5 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands “and a pure heart,” Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
- Who is going to receive a blessing from the Lord? The man who has “a pure heart”…”who has not sworn deceitfully”…the man who is sincere in His relationship with God.
- It’s the person whose whole life, both public and private, manifests their devotion to God.
- They are wholly and utterly sincere…there is nothing fake…nothing devious about their desire to please God.
These people that Jesus is speaking too had seen those who looked so good on the outside…in fact, Jesus refers to them in Matthew 23 as “beautiful, whitewashed tombs.”
- And these people were led to believe that those kinds of people were going to “see God.”
- But Jesus referred to them as being nothing but “full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness.”
It is not the person who puts on a “good show”…it’s not the person who simply sounds religious…it’s not the person who wears all the crosses, or beads, or robes and collars…or who puts the religious stickers on the back window of their car.
- It is those who “have clean hands” and who are wholly, and utterly sincere in their relationships to man and God who will “see God.”
Vs. 9 and beatitude 7: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Notice the blessing: “…for they shall be called sons of God.” Let me explain the idea behind this statement.
Just recently I was visiting with a young man…and as I watched things he did…the things he said…his mannerisms…I thought to myself…”Wow, he is just like his dad…you can tell that he is Jerry’s son.”
- That is the idea behind this blessing…
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
- When you are a “peacemaker”…when you are seeking to reconcile someone back into a peaceful relationship with God…when you are seeking to reconcile a conflict between two friends…when you are seeking to resolve a conflict between a husband and wife…when you are trying to reconcile a conflict in a congregation…then you are doing exactly what your Father is and has done.
Look what the apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:20: For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him…
- God is the author of peace and reconciliation.
- Therefore, it is not surprising when we strive to bring about peace and reconciliation between man and man…or especially between God and man…that we shall be called “sons of God.”
Now vs.10 or Beatitude 8: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- I think it interesting that Jesus has just spoke of “peace making” and now he speaks of being persecuted.
- As hard as we may try to make peace with some people, they will refuse to live at peace with us.
- And as hard as you might try to reconcile a situation…some one will oppose you even to the point of slandering you or treating you badly.
- But it is not just limited to “peace making”…there will always be someone who just simply finds the “righteousness that you hunger and thirst” for some thing they despise.
- Being persecuted for the sake of righteousness…for doing what is right in the sight of God…is as normal as breathing air.
- Do not be surprised if anti-Christian hostilities increase…instead, be surprised if they don’t.
For those who are “persecuted for righteousness sake…for those who endure…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- You may lose everything on earth…but you will gain everything that is in heaven.
Bill Clinton may get $290,000 dollars when he speaks…and he may give some insights on foreign policy, national politics, social issues, and the economy.
But Jesus gives you more than just some insights…He gives you hope…hope of receiving mercy; hope of seeing God; hope of being called sons of God; hope of obtaining the kingdom of heaven and all that comes with it.
- And He does it all for free…
- You weigh it and decide…which of the two is the better deal…Bill Clinton for $290,000 or Jesus for free?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024