Matthew 5:9 (1-12)  |   Let There Be Peace           |           02/03/08

When you run across typos in your daily reading, they are no big deal. If you read the Daily Enterprise, you almost expect them! However, if the errors occur in Holy Scripture, then you have a problem of biblical proportions.

“Thou shalt commit adultery” is what one Bible said instead of 'shalt not.'
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God.” The lobby for the unrighteous liked the sound of that one.
 “Let the children first be killed.” Must have been written by a frustrated parent. What
Jesus really said is “Let the children first be filled.” (Mark 7:25)

And in
Matthew 5:9, part of today’s passage of Scripture, we read, “Blessed are the place-makers.” What Jesus actually said was “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but a proofreader failed to catch the typo.

So just who is responsible for biblical typos? Printers, of course! One famous error occurred in Psalm 119:161: “Printers have persecuted me without a cause.” The verse should have read, “Princes have persecuted me ...” Case closed.
Fortunately for us today, the Peachtree Editorial and Proofreading Service is working hard to catch and correct such biblical blunders. According to the Associated Press (July 3, 2004), this company is dedicated to proofreading Bibles and making sure that such misprints never make it into a Sunday Scripture reading.

With an ordinary book, you can put up with some mistakes “because it’s not something you’re basing your whole life on,” says
JuneGunden, who founded the company along with her husband Doug.  “It’s information, but it’s not really life-changing information.” With the Bible, however, people expect perfection.

Just think of the problems that would have arisen if the Gundens had not caught several errors in the most recent edition of the Bible. The phrase “our ancestors” would have been “sour ancestors.” Instead of condemning “factions,” the Bible would have called for an end to “fractions.”

Young math students would appreciate that!

What is so shocking about the Beatitudes is that they sound like they are full of typos — even though God's word is completely accurate. When you read them, they are so counter-intuitive that you figure there must be a misprint here.

“Blessed are the meek”? The meek? I don’t think so!

The only way to see these words clearly is through the lens of the
kingdom of God. A proofreader’s magnifying glass cannot help us to spot the truth here — we need to be looking through the divine optics of the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus Christ. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” ... “Blessed are those who mourn” ... “Blessed are the peacemakers”  . . .
. . . These are not prescriptions from the self-help section of Books-A-Million. Instead, they are statements of what is true about the new reality that the Lord is inscribing on the world.                    
There are no typos here.

So what can we learn from these counterintuitive realities? For starters, we need to realize that these blessings, known as the Beatitudes, are not descriptions of human feelings. When
Jesus says that we are “blessed,” he is not saying that we are necessarily “happy.” To be reviled and persecuted because you follow the Lord might turn out to be a blessing (v. 11), but it is not going to make you feel particularly cheerful.

To be blessed, in this case, is to be made privileged or fortunate by the action of Almighty God. It carries with it a sense of salvation and peace and well-being. The opposite of blessed is not “unhappy.” Rather, the opposite of blessed is “cursed.” To be blessed is to be given the gift of divine favor.

Stated this way, it is clear that the blessing of the Beatitudes is not about us, and it is not about how we feel. Instead, it is all about what God has done for us.

With this perspective in mind, we can get a clearer sense of what
Jesus is talking about when he calls his disciples as “blessed.” What he is saying is that these former fishermen are blessed because they are experiencing the coming of God’s kingdom, and they are in the process of discovering that their lives are being reshaped by this new reality.
When you think about it, there was some truth in the typo that read, “Blessed are the place-makers.” Blessed are those who make a place for the kingdom of God.

The Gospel message encapsulated in the Beatitudes introduces God's way of doing things. God reveals to you important survival information in order that you may have life and have it abundantly. The blessing on the peacemakers is part of that greater revelation from God.
The normal way of making peace between the kingdoms of the world is through the military. A king, president or dictator may sign peace treaties with hostile nations and thus live tolerating each other. On the other hand, the national leadership can try to force peace through the conquering and suppression of all hostile groups. In either case, the peace is tentative because hostility goes unresolved. This Peace only means toleration or suppression of the enemy.
The Lord God Almighty, through the Beatitude, presents a better option. For the Kingdom of God ruled by the Prince of Peace, hostility is not suppressed nor benignly tolerated. Rather, hostility finds resolution in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
On Easter morning, God announced that peace occurs through the resurrecting power of Christ to save us from our sins. The Transfiguration was a foreshadowing of Christ's resurrection. Peace, without God, is not possible.
Eirene is the Greek word for peace, and Matthew recorded the Beatitudes in Greek. Jesus, however, spoke Aramaic, a form of Hebrew. The Hebrew word is shalom, and it is to that word that we go to understand this beatitude. Shalom is more than the absence of strife; it is the presence of harmony and goodwill.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." 
Biblical scholar Rabbi Steven Schwarzchild was once asked, “How would you translate blessing?”

“There is no one word that will do,” the rabbi replied. “It is something like ‘on the right path,’ ‘on the way the Creator wants us to go.’ It is the opposite of the word for sin, which means ‘losing your way.’”
Blessed are you when you take all your anger, all your hostility, all your bitterness, all your hatred to the cross of Jesus Christ and give it to God. Because once you give your hatreds to God, you affirm your trust in God and let God to take care of it.
Once you repent of your non-peaceful activities; once you accept the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, you are different. You become a citizen of God's Kingdom. Your King or President, Lord or Emperor, becomes the Prince of Peace. You are now children of God and citizens of heaven. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

The Message by Eugene Peterson, You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
So, what does it mean for you to make a place for the kingdom in your lives today? What kind of blessing will you experience if you allow yourselves to be transformed by the radical new reality that Jesus offers? What kind of renewal will come your way if you take seriously the invitation to open your hearts and minds to the arrival of God’s kingdom?

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be doing a God-like work." We can be peacemakers because we know how to make peace if we have made our own peace with God. We can be peacemakers, doing a God-like work, because we know the Prince of Peace.
We can help make peace not for the sake of peace at all costs, but peace that is just, moral and godly. Peace in right relationships with God and with each other: this is the Kingdom of Heaven and so we are the children of God.
If we do, we will be given a sense of comfort we never dreamed possible. We will find ourselves blessed, not cursed.

The Beatitudes are not mistakes or misspellings, as strange as they look to us. Instead, they are kingdom-based qualities that can open the door to inner peace and everlasting salvation.

Let’s make a place for them.

The challenge for us is to open ourselves to God’s kingdom, and receive this radical new reality that Jesus is inscribing on our hearts and thus making a place for peace.

Blessed are those who open the door to the kingdom of God, says Jesus — blessed are the place-makers. And that’s no typo.   
Let us pray . . .

Empower us, Lord, to go to that person with whom we have a conflict. Create in us a spirit of true gentleness and concern that we might search for a way to mend the breach between us.
Release us from the imprisoning pride that makes us aloof and unwilling to make the first move.

Humble us, Lord, to receive with genuine grace the apologies others make to us. Guard us from poisonous gloating. Help us put the injury out of our minds so we can truly start fresh with the person who has injured us.
Remind us that you have forgiven each of us far more than we have been asked to forgive, for while we were yet sinners, you gave your life for us.
Draw us close together in this congregation that our love and unity may be a witness to the strength of your forgiveness in our community. Amen.

Rev. Rosemary Stelz
Chu, Louise. “Typos in the holy book are couple’s daily bread.” The Denver Post, May 20, 2004, 2A
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