07/30/2017 – Matthew 5:8 – Happy to be Blessed: “Pure Heart->View of God”

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Mark Wheeler

Matthew 5:8

Happy to Be Blessed: “Pure Heart->View of God”

07/30/2017

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

As we worship You, O Lord, please take away our sorrows and strengthen our faith in the face of our struggles that we might experience the joy of Your presence, in Christ’s name. We seek Your true blessing, and we hope to be that blessing for those around us in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

I think I could never win an argument about this, and if I had any wisdom I wouldn’t dare enter a conversation about it … but, I’ll start a sermon using it as a reference point. Ready?

The best superhero ever to appear in a comic book, or on a movie screen or TV station is obviously … (drum roll Jake) … Batman

Why? What super-power does he even possess? He’s not faster than a speeding bullet. He can’t stop a locomotive, or spin a web, or fly and invisible airplane.

Batman’s super power consists of, really, just one thing (OK, now I’ll confess why I should never argue my case – I have never read a Batman comic book [and they’ve been around since 1939(?)!], and I really don’t even like most of the Batman movies; but the 1960s Batman TV show? For me, HE’s the only real Batman) – his one, real super power: Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego is Pure of Heart!

Yes, it’s true that his ultra-extreme wealth makes his Batman a reality, but it is his purity of heart that has put that millionaire above all the rest in conquering evil in Gotham City. And as such, he inspires all of us that we could do something similar in our own neighborhoods.

OK, for those who think Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Mighty Mouse or Underdog deserve this honor, we’ll hold a support group – er, discussion group over in that corner after worship….

 

In our Summer series of teachings on the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, today we come to the sixth Beatitude: Blessed are the pure in heart,    for they will see God.

We are in this list of Beatitudes because of the varieties and ferocities of struggles we have all witnessed, shared, and talked about over these last several months. These Beatitudes see these struggles as opportunities for blessing.

 

The 1st four Beatitudes remind us how much we NEED God! Poor in spirit, in mourning over that poverty, humbled by our spiritual condition, and then, transitionally we begin to resemble God’s character by desiring righteousness. And God promises His eternal presence and comfort and satisfaction.

 

And then the 5th Beatitude begins a list of CHRIST-like character traits that will form in those who follow Jesus well. Last week we saw mercy as a Christ-like character trait. This week we see PURITY of HEART.

 

Listen with me to these words of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon of the Mount. Matthew 5:1-2 and 3-7 ….—-

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.  He said:

“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. (NIV)

 

The first four Beatitudes all describe the needs of a disciple. They remind us that, as human beings longing for eternal love, we need a Savior – who has come to us in the person of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Remember that the Greek word Matthew uses for “blessed” is Makarios, which refers to the BELIEVER in Christ who is SATISFIED and SECURE by the indwelling of the HOLY SPIRIT. (StudyLight.org) This is much more than the simple word “happy”. Makarios implies that there is nothing else needed.

 

The 5th Beatitude begins a list of CHRIST-like character traits.

Being “MERCIFUL” displays a life filled with God’s grace.

Being “PURE in HEART” reveals one’s utmost priority in life.

 

All cultures mark purity in their own ways.

“Christian purity” is different. It is not about a list of what we can and cannot do. It is, rather, about our focus on GOD and GOD’S WORD.

 

Every culture on this planet carries with it a sense of what is pure and what is not. Every religion has some kind of list of rules that describe what it means to be pure. Batman’s sense of justice for the defenseless might not cross into every group’s list of mores and morals, but they describe something of the general American dream for peace and proper behavior (not necessarily the Christian understanding, but the American one).

The Christian list is a little different. Buddha said to follow his four noble truths, Mohammed said to follow his teachings, Moses said to follow his commandments, Jesus said to “follow ME”.

In this Sermon on the Mount, Blessed are the PURE in HEART, are those who follow JESUS.

 

What is the promised gift of being PURE in HEART? They will SEE GOD!

Long ago, Moses knew the desire to see God’s glory; David prayed for this “one thing” alone, “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4); from Genesis where Adam walked in the Garden with God to Revelation where the chosen will again walk in the Garden with God, being in His presence is the longed-for hope and desire!

Jesus says, “The pure in heart will see God!”

What did the angel Gabriel tell Joseph (through the prophet Isaiah) that Mary’s son would be called? ImmanuelGod with us! Jesus was/is the visible image of the invisible God! When we see Jesus we see God!

 

So what does it really mean to be “pure in heart”? To be “pure in heart” is to have a heart after God’s own heartDavid was described in this way; to love the things God loves; to want the things God wants; to live in ways that honor and present God to the world around us.

 

One of my favorite pictures of Jesus – not necessarily the paintings, but the description in the Gospels – is the picture of Jesus scolding the apostles for their efforts to keep the little children away from their all-to-important-leader-Jesus.

No!Jesus, I imagine scolding, with a slightly raised voice and clenched jaw and fist, “Absolutely let these children come to me! Do not hamper them! Get out of their way! Get every obstacle out of their way! It would be better for you, if you do hinder them, to have a millstone tied around your neck and you be tossed into the river!” (I imagine, if Jesus were played by President Trump’s new Communications Director, “Tony Scaramucci, He would say, “You mess wit dese little ones, you sleep wit da fishes.”)

Jesus says, “If you don’t become like little children you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven!” Those are Jesus words describing “pure of heart”!

 

When Jennifer and I were sitting in the Dubai International Airport, in the “holding area” for our Gate before our flight to Seattle, we were sitting across from a Black man from Australia, surrounded by Middle Easterners, Londoners, and Chinese. And this little 3-year old Asian girl walks between our rows of chairs, smiling brightly and greeting us with “Baba!”

And the man from Australia looks at me and says, “That’s a pure heart! She has no prejudice, she knows no fear of our differences, she just knows ‘Baba!’” And we were all thankful for that brief moment of peace and joy before we rushed to board the sold-out 15-hour cramped ride to Seattle.

(I looked for a picture that represented this little girl for our bulletin covers, that Caucasian little boy is as close as I could find!)

 

In a moment, we approach the Table of our Lord, and we have the opportunity to see God face-to-face in the Bread and the Cup.

As discipled followers of Jesus we are already what we hope to becomepure of heart. But here’s the thing – we can do better as we live our lives seeking first God’s Kingdom and righteousness, as child-like followers of Jesus, what we are promised is to see God clearly, not just in a glass dimly. And when we do, we will not be able to contain the joys of heaven!

 

Living and gracious God,
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
You have brought us out to a spacious place
where we are called to live as those redeemed.
Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to keep Your commandments,
that we may show forth Your love
with gentle word and reverent deed
always, everywhere. Amen.

 

Resources:

Allen, Michael; “Blessed Are The Pure in Heart”; TableTalk; June 2017; Pp 25-26.

 

Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange; hermeneutics.stackexchange.com.

 

Makarios: Blessed; the state of one who has become a partaker of God; to experience the fullness of God”; StudyLight.org.

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