Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.”
Conflict is a reality that seems to be ever present. From individual disputes to global wars, conflict seems to be easily stepped into but much harder to get out of.
When Jesus was preaching His sermon on the mount, He listed groups of people that exemplified godliness….Peacemakers were one such group.
Many seem to cry out for peace, either by marching in demonstrations or slapping a symbol on a flag and waving it high for all to see.
During the final days of the Vietnam war, demonstrations were common throughout the U.S.. Marches on Washington D.C. brought thousands who despised America’s involvement in Southeast Asia. Rally’s brought shouts of anger and rage against the U.S. government, and subsequently against any U.S. servicemen or women returning from the war.
The myriad of people who fought in that conflict had many well documented traumatic experiences, ones that were left unresolved from an experience of finding hatred on their return instead of appreciation.
Peace, according to Jesus is more than resolving a conflict, but more of making complete that which was fractured.
The root word for peace in the Greek is the term, eiréné. It implies a process of joining together to make into a whole. God’s terms for peace is not mankind’s inclination. Jesus made it clear what living in this world entails.
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
In what way has Jesus overcome this world?
He has brought Peace between man and God.
The sin of man separated the human race from true fellowship with God. When Jesus offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice, He fulfilled the requirement of the law which was mankind’s death.
The world could not and still cannot perceive the magnitude of Jesus’ awesome act of love. The world will never know peace because it seeks it from sources within.
One day, Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner. The Pharisee was a religious ruler of that day. Charged with keeping the ceremonial law it was imperative for a religious ruler to hold others to the same standard. Jesus was not fond of how the Pharisee’s took the law and added extra weight to it, thereby removing the revelation of God it was intended to accomplish.
As Jesus was reclining at the dinner table, a woman came in who was only described to be a ‘sinner’. The implication was her lifestyle was one of habitual sin and for most who practice sin without remorse, entering into a room full of Pharisee’s and in the presence of Jesus would be particularly condemning.
We pick up the story in Luke 7…
vs. 37-39 “And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
Fragrant oil was extremely expensive. The oil may have been a measure of her life savings. As the woman anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil and her tears, something was happening in her that Jesus recognized.
Jesus began to illustrate a parable by which the Pharisee’s might understand the gravity of the situation. The story of the two debtors was reminiscent of two people who had lived two different lives. One had committed an enormous amount of sin, the other may have had some standards he tried to uphold but nonetheless failed like the other, just not to the same extent.
Both were forgiven for their debts. The question was, who would be more appreciative?
The woman had undoubtedly met Jesus earlier and Jesus had transformed her life. Her guilt was relieved by the Son of God showing mercy upon her. She recognized her failures before God, and she received forgiveness from God’s Son who had come to take away the sins of the world.
The act of humility and servitude was a reflection of her heart. She had been the greater debtor and had been forgiven much. Her gratefulness was exhibited in her act and she didn’t care how it was perceived by others.
vs. 44-47 “Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
The condemnation displayed by the men considered religious zealots, was a revelation of their hearts. They couldn’t see the magnitude of the situation because their own hearts were hardened by pride and self justification.
There is no greater danger for a man than to think he is justified by his own sense of morality. It is very difficult to share the gospel with someone who lays hold of any religion that presents a pattern for earning salvation and then proclaims you holy by your works. If the law was shared with the self-justified, it would be rejected because they think they have upheld all they need for salvation.
Every false religion that claims a greater inspiration than God’s revealed Word, believes in self justification for their works. Just like the Pharisees who added to the law, those who lay hold of man made works, will find in the end that no ordinary man can justify their position before a Just and Holy God.
When Jesus turned and looked at the woman, He proclaimed….”your sins are forgiven”
This was said more for the Pharisees to hear as well as for the woman. She had already been forgiven the moment her heart became repentant but accepting that reality can be very difficult for someone who has lived a lifetime of sin.
Once the Son has set the sinner free….they are free indeed. Grace has no stipulations, it is freely given by God and it done so with a price. Jesus paid that price, one that no ordinary man could uphold.
With grace comes an added benefit…
Luke 7:50 “Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
The grace she received was not only a reprieve from condemnation, it was an elevation of her position.
The sinner is separated from God by the offense. The offense is against God alone, for it is God’s laws the sinner has broken.
Only God can forgive sin.
Upon forgiveness comes a wholeness that didn’t exist before…a union of God and mankind that existed in times of old. Jesus restored that which was lost in the garden…..fellowship. To walk with God is to be made into His image. To learn and grow from God is to reflect His countenance to others.
Like the woman who poured out her oil upon God’s feet, God’s people recognize their position before him and humble themselves in servitude.
Peace with God is the greatest ideal for which mankind can set their minds upon. Without it, there is only strife and fighting against all of the universal commandments that God has established.
Jesus forgave sin because He was and is God. Many false religions have relegated him as a prophet, angel, or offspring of some insestuous relationship.
Jesus is called the Son of God because He came forth from God. Without a recognition of Jesus’ divinity, the modern day Pharisee will only have their false religion to fall back on. All false belief that will be rejected by Christ because they never knew Him.
Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
- The law of God brings condemnation to the sinner, Jesus brings justification.
- The law of God is practiced out of love by His people, not to justify but to walk in fellowship with God.
Do you want to know peace? Know Jesus.
There is no other way.