“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9
The last few years have been anything but peaceful. They have been full of injustice, chaos, and vitriol. City streets, even the nation’s capital, were flooded with rioters, while social media overflowed with hate. The culture wars have raged on while a war in Ukraine may have only just begun.
The Kingdom of Peace
Political and social unrest may cause feelings of hopelessness. However, this should point us toward the hope we have in Christ’s coming kingdom. Peace will fill the Messianic kingdom from the throne room to the wilderness. In that day, “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6). Such imagery illustrates that Christ will resolve all discord and create harmony throughout the earth.
Jesus continued to point toward the hope of this kingdom of peace when he delivered the beatitudes. He promised that God would make right all that has gone wrong when he establishes the kingdom of heaven upon the earth. There will be no sin or injustice, no cause for humiliation or grief when that day comes. Instead, we will find righteousness, comfort and mercy in the presence of God.
Becoming a Peacemaker
After depicting the kingdom of peace that his disciples would inherit, Christ went on to describe the requirements for citizens. Christ expects us to establish peace within our own spheres of influence as we wait for him to establish peace across the globe.
We will never make peace by ignoring conflict. Instead, we make peace when we address conflict with love and humility, the two foundational virtues of Christian ethics (Matt 22:36-40; 20:25-28). The Sermon on the Mount is full of examples of what peacemaking involves.
The first method of peacemaking is seeking reconciliation after wronging another (Matt 5:23-36). Jesus was well aware of our tendency to sin against others. When that occurs, Christ commands that we drop whatever it is that we are doing, even solemn acts of worship, and pursue reconciliation with those we have wronged. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells his audience that if they had mistreated a brother in the faith, they must to put their temple sacrifices on hold until they were reconciled to their brother. He then instructs his listeners to settle lawsuits filed against them outside of court, which would require an admission of guilt and a commitment to settle the matter in a manner that pleased the plaintiff (5:25). Jesus demands us to lower ourselves and approach those whom we have wronged with humility, seeking to compensate for the damages done, and asking them to show us kindness and forgiveness which we do not deserve.
The second way to make peace is to answer arrogance and hate with humility and love. Instead of retaliating after we are insulted, Christ calls us to turn the other cheek and offer ourselves up to further abuse (5:38-39). Rather than lashing out against those who take advantage of us, our love should cause us to serve them in a manner that exceeds their expectations (5:40-42). Christ calls us to forgive those who have gone far beyond the last straw and love those it would be easier to hate.
Being Called Sons of God
Making peace is not an easy task. It requires us to expose ourselves to further abuse, to bless those who curse us, and perhaps worst of all, admit when we are wrong. However, we are assured that we will be rewarded for our efforts by being called “sons of God.” The phrase “son of ____,” was a Hebrew idiom used to display that someone shared the same characteristics of their “father” (Matt 8:12, 9:15, 13:38, 23:31). Otherworldly love and forgiveness shows that we are sons and daughters of a heavenly Father (5:43-48; 6:14-15). Nothing displays the Father’s personality more clearly than his acts of forgiveness, love, and reconciliation (1 Jn 4:7-12). Elsewhere, Jesus states that is his disciples will become sons of their heavenly Father when they love without discrimination. Just as God showers blessings such as sun and rain upon both the wicked and righteous, his sons would not only love their friends, but also their enemies (5:45). Jesus’ disciples were already sons in one sense. After all, Jesus refers to God as their heavenly Father. However, love would cause them to become sons in the sense of being recognized as chips off the old block.
In this beatitude, Jesus speaks of the future day when our resemblance to our Father will be joyfully declared, and God himself will be the one making the declaration. Like any Father, God delights to see his children following in his footsteps. Making peace is not an easy task, but it leads to one the most profound blessings laid up for us in Scripture. Eventually, we will hear God say, “That’s my boy! Welcome home Son!” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 For more on the this Hebrew idiom, see Charles Quarles, Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ’s Message to the Modern Church, 70.