By Brooke Holt
“Blessed are the merciful, for these shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:7-8
Jesus was a brilliant teacher! What is amazing about this Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes is that each one builds upon the other: those who are poor in spirit, those who deeply grieve their sin, those who are humble and willing to submit to the Lord, those who hunger and thirst for the ways of the Lord, those are the people who receive God’s mercy. They are the blessed ones, and then those blessed ones are the ones who show that mercy to others.
What does it mean to be merciful? Again, we look to the example of Jesus. Though he was God and lived a perfect life, he did not punish or harm those who sinned against him. Instead, he died on their behalf to offer the gift of forgiveness. Even on the cross, Jesus showed mercy and compassion when he prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33). These people betrayed Jesus, falsely accused him, mocked him, brutally beat him, and handed him over to be crucified. And Jesus still prayed on their behalf.
How was Jesus able to extend such forgiveness? Only through knowing that no matter what man did to him, he was perfectly loved by the Father and living in obedience to the Father’s will for him.
That knowledge of perfect love and obedience to the Father also led to a pure heart. Jesus had clarity, honesty, and perfect alignment with the heart of his Father. Nothing impure or unclean dwelled within him. Jesus offers us this same amazing gift; he can create that pure heart in you and me. As with righteousness, the blood of Jesus washes you clean, and you are given a new heart as a right Spirit is put within you (see Ezekiel 36:26—this fulfills that prophecy).
As you continually surrender to the Spirit, asking him to make God’s will your will, to help you obey, and to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), you also will grow to be pure in heart as you will also receive the promise to see God.
This surrendering, asking, and receiving is a daily practice through which you become more like Jesus. May you surrender, ask, and receive more of his Spirit today!
Consider someone in your life who exemplifies a pure heart. Ask him or her about daily practices then seek to implement some of those in your life. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus’ great commission to his apostles after his resurrection was to go into all the world to preach, teach, and baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the very beginning, baptism has been understood as the doorway into this new kind of family. Explore what Jesus expects of this new family that finds its origin and purpose in him. The baptized are called into a new life of faith. From passages in Matthew to the shining examples of faith in our passage from John, Waters of Baptism is a helpful resource for those seeking the sacrament of baptism or those who want a deeper understanding of their faith. This six week study will help us understand the importance of baptismal living.
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