Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
As you might be aware, about forty of us from Central just returned from visiting Israel/Palestine. Some of our trips to Israel/Palestine are focused on seeing the places of the land, others are on meeting the people who live in the land. This one was a bit of both.
As I have said many times before, if you are a Christ follower you need to make it a priority to visit this land at some time in your life. If it’s already on your bucket list, you need to move it up the list. When you do visit, the Bible will come alive in vivid color and you will see all kinds of things you’ve never seen and understand things you’ve never understood you were missing. You just have to experience this for yourself to totally understand.
Which leads me to what I want to share with you now. The other day, as we were sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at the place Jesus gave his famous “Sermon on the Mount,” we quietly read what have come to be called the “Beatitudes.” These are statements of “blessedness” that Jesus uttered within this sermon, and these statements are utterly profound. One simply jumped out at me.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
You need to know when Jesus said this, Israel/Palestine was a very conflicted land. It was under the control of Rome and the Jewish people chafed under their rule. There were constant uprisings and rebellions against Roman occupation. It was against this backdrop that Jesus spoke these words.
So just what is it about being a peacemaker that makes you a child of God?
Let’s start by suggesting that a child of God is the real deal! They are not something in name; they are something in nature. Children resemble their parents! You can see in the child the nature of the parent.
And here’s where I was struck to my core.
The most powerful among us are not threatened by peace!
In fact, only the powerful can actually bring true peace about. While those who are weak most often plead for peace, they are generally unable to bring it into existence. This is something the powerful must do.
Which is exactly what made Jesus the PRINCE OF PEACE.
To make this point, let me illustrate through the Old Testament story of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison on trumped up charges, forgotten and neglected in prison for years, he finally see’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Because God allowed him to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream, he is placed second in command of all of Egypt. And here is where it gets dicey. His brothers have to beg him for food. Joseph recognizes them; they don’t recognize him. It’s time to set the record straight and get revenge!!! But this isn’t what Joseph does. He is too powerful for this. He chooses to forgive instead. He understands that God has given him his power for greater purposes than striking back at those who have wronged him. He enters into peace with his brothers.
Now jump to the story of Jesus. Jesus suffered unfathomable insults and degradation as he was led to the cross. He was physically abused, spit upon, mocked and persecuted. He took it. He took it all. Till they had nothing left to heap upon Him, He took it.
Why is this so remarkable? Simply because he didn’t have to. He wasn’t weak. He wasn’t powerless; in fact, He was exactly the opposite. He was power under control. He could have called on legions of angels to help him. He could have struck back at all his enemies. He could have his just revenge. But He didn’t. He was just.
You see, the whole narrative of the Bible is that a God who could easily destroy us doesn’t desire to. We have clearly declared ourselves to be his enemies—yet he offers us peace instead.
We could not come close to defeating God on our best of days; God could not be defeated by us on his worst.
This is why, when you choose to walk a path of peace, you become his child. When you could use power but choose to live at peace instead, you are showing yourself to be in genuine possession of his nature. And in doing this, you are the strongest you have ever been–or will ever be.Click here for the photo credit on this post