Messiah Blesses the Merciful and Pure – Matthew 5:7-8

The fifth beatitude describes the Christian as “merciful.” Behind the Greek word is the rich Hebrew term, chesed, which is often translated as “lovingkindness” or “steadfast love.” To be merciful has nothing to do with a stirring of the emotions, or an easygoing temperament, but rather is an intentional kindness. The word chesed is used 250 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, most often as an attribute of God. Its first appearance is in Genesis 19, where God shows mercy in answering Abraham’s prayer by rescuing Lot and his family from the judgment that was coming upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin, and with pity, seeks to relieve the associated suffering. The merciful are ‘under-standing,’ meaning not only feeling sad for someone, but standing under them to support and assist them through their misery. Calvin defined the merciful as those, “who are not only prepared to put up with their own troubles, but who also take on other people’s troubles.” Mercy is illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), where the hero has pity on the wounded victim, crosses the road, dresses his wounds, carries the man with him and makes provision for him. The perfect example of mercy is demonstrated by God, who looked upon our wretched estate and removed our suffering by giving His only begotten Son to die in our place. The surprising promise to the merciful is that they shall receive mercy. This is the only beatitude where the promise is identical to the state. This shows us that mercy as directed to others – as we expend it – we receive more. Mercy exists to be passed on, not stored up. As you are merciful to others, you receive more mercy, which you in turn extend to others.

Those blessed in the sixth beatitude are those who are “pure in heart.” This does not refer to an external show of religious zeal, but an inward holiness resulting in a conscience that is void of offense. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7) and makes an indredibly beautiful promise to those who are pure in heart, that “they shall see God.” In Scriptural terms, to “see God,” refers to both, an accurate understanding of the faithfulness of God, as well as a visible manifestation of His presence. So this promise refers both to a clear spiritual revelation of Jesus now, as well as a future vision of Jesus’ face to face when He returns to establish His eternal kingdom.

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