Matthew 5.1-12 – Beatitudes
Commercial for Cholesterol Lowering Medicine
A set of twins at the gym are walking down the hallway. They both look in good physical condition, but one walks right into the glass partition. Both look alike on the outside, but one has high cholesterol.
The commercial points out that we cannot tell what our physical health is just by looking at the outside.
Jesus points out that what is inside is most important. And the outside is not always an accurate gauge of what is on the inside.
Would you buy a used car by it’s outward appearance? Would you buy a used car without first popping the hood and at least pretending you know what your are looking for?
In this Beatitude, Jesus pops our hood, he takes an x-ray of our heart: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Andy Stanley wrote a book entitled Since nobody’s perfect … How Good is Good Enough? Good people go to heaven … don’t they? The whole thought behind the book is our utter dependence upon God to cleanse and purify our hearts. Good works alone are not enough. Those works must flow from a heart that is right before God.
The Heart of the Pharisees
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matthew 6)
Don’t give to be seen. Don’t pray to be seen. Don’t fast to be seen.
Jesus was constantly looking at the Pharisees as a negative example of heart purity. They did the opposite of Jesus’ teaching. They did all the right things, but for the wrong reasons. They appeared righteous on the outside, but they were far from God on the inside. The woes of Matthew 23 is evident of this. (Woes are a kind of opposite of Blessed.) The Pharisees did things to be seen by others. They took joy in putting heavy outward demands upon others – they set people up to fail.
Jesus, too, has high expectations, but he comes in mercy. He comes saying I want you to succeed. I don’t expect you to do good out of pure determination; let me change your heart.
The double standards of the Pharisees is evident in the trial of Jesus Christ. As we are in the Lenten season, I’d like us to look at the following passages as our example.
The chief priests and religious people trumped up charges against Jesus and gave him the death sentence. Becuase they were unable to actually sentence him to death, they arranged for him to go before the Romans. Even though these religious people misrepresented justice and conspired by finding false witnesses, they were still concerned about remaining ceremonially clean for the Passover, so they would not go in to the Governor. Pilate had to come out to them.
The Heart of Jesus
Jesus lived out a different example. During his ministry, he would heal people and tell them not to tell anyone. His mother was the first to come to him and ask for a miracle and he said, “It is not my time yet.” Jesus said that he did not do or say anything except that which was agreeable to his Father. The good that Jesus did came out of a pure heart, a heart whose sole intent was to be obedient to the Father.
On a Journey
One theologian said:
“The truth is that one of the most conclusive evidences that we do possess a pure heart is the discovery and consciousness of the remaining impurity that continues to plague our hearts.
Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Prov 20.9)
"If we say that we have [present tense] no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
John Wesley’s definition of sanctification is that we are always growing in our salvation. He strived for entire sanctification (a complete purity before God) but never achieved it.
1 Corinthians 1
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Purity of heart is a heart that relies upon God, that is focused on God, that is in pursuit of God … and to the one who is pure in heart, Jesus promises the blessing of “seeing God.” As you know your dependence upon him for a pure heart, you will enjoy a rich relationship with God, a fulfillling intimacy with God.
1 Cor 13.9-12
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.