Sermon for May 3rd, 2015
1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Beautiful Attitudes: The Purehearted and the Peacemakers
- Video Clip: Blessed are the Cheesemakers
Blessed are the cheesemakers. This clip is from Monty Python's Life of Brian, and is probably one of my favorite films. Unfortunately, the characters in this clip aren't the only ones to get this verse wrong. The second edition of the Geneva Bible (produced by our own Presbyterian founding fathers, John Calvin and John Knox, among others) misprinted this verse as "Blessed are the placemakers, for they shall be called children of God." I'm not entirely sure what a placemaker is, but if you are one, know that for a very brief window time in the 16th century, you were blessed.
As far as Bible misprints go, that one's not too bad. The 1631 printing of the King James Bible rendered the 7th commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery." As you might imagine, today it is a highly valuable and sought-after edition of the Bible.
Blessed are the peacemakers. Even when correctly printed, this beatitude is not as simple as we might like it to be. What is a peacemaker? The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded almost yearly since 1901, has named as peacemakers social advocates like Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama. They've also nameed as peacemakers several diplomats and world leaders like Woodrow Wilson, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Yitzhak Rabin, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter (and more recently, Al Gore and Barack Obama).
The creator of the Nobel Peace Prize, Alfred Nobel (who ironically made his fortune by inventing dynamite) established in his will the criteria for a peacemaker as someone who has "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
But that definition would have been entirely foreign and strange to anyone in Jesus' first-century audience, as he pronounced "blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." In fact, the image of "peacemaker" in Jesus' time was pretty well established: It was the image of the Roman centurion--the representative of the Roman Emperor and the "Pax Romana" or the "Roman Peace." It was a peace that lasted