As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
The distinguished preacher and professor of preaching, Haddon Robinson, once told our seminary class the great lengths he would go to in order to avoid telling strangers he was a seminary professor and preacher. Knowing the walls that often go up when people discovered he was clergy, Robinson preferred to say: “I work for an organization that is seeking to bring about world peace”. People would nod approvingly and go happily on their way.
I have yet to come up with a better job description than Professor Robinson’s! You and I are in fact called by God to join Him on the mission of making peace in our world. There is nothing more God-like than making peace.
The significance of peacemakers being called “children of God” is brought out in the original language of the beatitude. Although most contemporary translations say the peacemakers will be called the “children of God”, the original Greek text calls them the “sons (huioi) of God”. This is an important distinction because in Bible times it was custom to describe the nature or spirit of a person by calling him “son of” plus an abstract noun. For instance, Jesus called James and John “sons of thunder” as a way of describing their thunderous personalities (Mark 3:14-17). Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, was called “Barnabas”, “son of encouragement”, to describe him as a great encourager (Acts 4:36). To call someone “son of” plus a noun, was a way of describing their essence. We sometimes say, “Like father, like son”.
When Jesus says that peacemakers will be “called sons of God” He is saying that in their nature and spirit they are God-like. In being peacemakers they bear a distinct family resemblance to the heavenly Father. They remind us of both God Himself and the Son of God as they go about making peace.
It is important to note that it is Father God who calls peacemakers His children, because the world seldom calls them God’s children. In fact, in the next beatitude we will see that the world will persecute them and say all kinds of evil against them falsely. It is often only the heavenly Father who acknowledges them as His children, and blesses them for doing the God-like work of making peace.
PONDER AND PRAY
“Let us then pursue what makes for peace…”—Romans 14:19
- What is the significance to you that peacemakers are called “children of God”?
- Why is peacemaking often so difficult and thankless?
- What would it mean for you to “pursue what makes for peace”.
- What do you want to say to God?