Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"Beatitudes 304: Makarios Are the Katharos in Heart"

Matthew 5:8

1 Peter 1: 18-25

Isaiah 1: 16-20

      This morning, we focus our collective attention on what is possibly the most demanding, if

not impossible to live out, of Jesus’ beatitudes:  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see

God.”  How many of us in all good conscience can say we’re pure in heart

      What comes to mind when we hear that word “pure?”  For some reason, I always think of Ivory
soap. In TV commercials, it was called 99.4% “pure;” so pure that it floats.  Now what a bar of soap

that floats has to do with purity, I don’t know.  If we call the Culligan man, we’re assured of buying

a water purification system which will leave water pure of even the tiniest traces of mercury, lead,

copper and benzene.  A skilled gemologist or jeweler looks for gemstones which are pure of imperfections,

and gold which is pure of alloys.  A metallurgist in a high-end steel producing facility aims to generate a ladle

of molten steel which is pure of dirty elements such as phosphorus and sulfur. These physical examples of purity

in our day have their parallels in the age and culture in which Jesus taught.

"Beatitudes 202: Mercy, Mercy Me"

Matthew 5:7

Matthew 18: 23-34

Psalm 69: 13-18

      “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

      The 5th beatitude under our consideration this morning is the only beatitude which could be cast

into what’s called in literary terms chiasm; that is to say, an A-B B-A structure.  Here’s what that means

in plain English:  “Blessed” (A) “are the merciful (B), “for they (the merciful) (B) “will receive mercy

(A).”  Maybe a simpler way to understand chiasm is this: what goes around comes around.  So the flip

side of this chiastic beatitude is that if one does not give mercy, one will not receive mercy. Buddhism

and Hinduism might call that “karma.” At any rate, since mercy is both the demand and the promise of

this particular beatitude – both its requirement and its reward – we need to understand what Jesus

means when He speaks of “merciful” and “mercy.”  Let’s spend some time there.

      The word “mercy” is translated from the Greek word eleos (eleos)Eleos actually derives its

meaning from a Hebrew word – chesedh – which occurs more than 150 times in the Old Testament. 

Almost every time chesedh shows up, it refers to God’s mercy toward people. 

“BEATITUDES 201: BE HUNGRY, BE FILLED”

  Matthew 5:6   Ephesians 3:14-21   Psalm 107:1-9

      The 4th beatitude of Jesus states that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteous-

ness, for they will be filled,” or in some ancient manuscripts, “satisfied.” So we start:

makarios, happy, favored by God are those who, first, “hunger and thirst…..” 

How are we impacted by the force of “hunger and thirst?” 

"Beatitudes 102: Blessings in Mournings and Meekness"

Matthew 5: 4-5

2 Corinthians 7: 9-10

Isaiah 61: 1-4

      This morning, we are confronted with, and challenged by, the 2nd and 3rd of Jesus’ nine beatitudes

which open His Sermon on the Mount:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” As with the first beatitude we talked about last

week, we are again hit in the chops with statements which, on the face of some of them, seem

oxymoronic; self-contradictory.  In fact, all of the beatitudes hold within them the potential to shake

us at the level of our foundational beliefs about life, and how things are supposed to work.

 

“BEATITUDES 101: MAKARIOS ARE THE PTOCHOS”

  Matthew 5:3-12

  Psalm 86:1-7

      On this first Sunday in Lent, we begin a series of messages on what are commonly called “The

Beatitudes;” the “blessed are they” statements.  The beatitudes actually serve as a prelude to the

Sermon on the Mount, preserved in chapters 5 through 7 in Matthew’s Gospel.  Some of the same

Beatitudes – with slight variations – are also found in the 6th chapter of Luke.  But for our purposes

over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll depend heavily on Matthew’s account.

      Matthew places this most renowned of sermons early in the chronology of Jesus’ ministry.  Je-

sus had been baptized by John in the Jordan River.  He’d endured forty days of temptation in the

wilderness.  He’d begun His teaching in Galilee to rave reviews.  And He’d begun the process of

choosing and calling those who would become His inner-circle.  Before long, Jesus’ fame had

spread far and wide.  People came in huge numbers to hear His teaching and to be healed of their

afflictions.  On one particular occasion, the crowd was becoming so overwhelmingly enormous

that Jesus retreated to a high place where He sat down.  In typical rabbinical fashion, surrounded

by His student followers, He began to teach.

          (Read Matthew 5:3-12)

"Game Changer"

Mark 9: 1-8

Luke 22: 14-20

      Have you ever had a mountaintop experience?  By mountaintop experience, I mean an intensely

personal experience or life event which, on some level, was profoundly life-changing; transformative. 

Oftentimes, such mountaintop experiences separate all which came before from all which comes after. 

I guess a good way to understand a mountaintop experience is as a game changer.  So let me reframe

my question.  Have you had a game changer in your life?

"Ambush Theology"

Romans 8:18-19, 22-25

John 9:1-7

    Three-time Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress and singer Ann Jillian was on top

of the world.  A few of us may remember her as Little Bo Peep in Disney’s 1960 version of Babes in

Toyland; then a few years later as a regular on a sitcom called Hazel.   In the early 1980’s, Jillian

was starring in the role of Cassie Cranston on another moderately successful television sitcom

called “It’s a Living,” which I believe remains in syndication on LaffTV.  Her obvious physical attri-

butes and three-octave voice were bringing multiple offers from Broadway.  Jillian’s one-woman

show was winning her rave reviews on the Strip at Las Vegas. She had everything to live for, and it

appeared there was nowhere to go but up.  Then came a fateful day in 1985 when she was

blindsided by a diagnosis of breast cancer.  She as only 34.  Treatment would require double

mastectomy followed by months of chemo.

"Hold Fast the Anchor"

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Psalm 119: 97-104

      As we read from Paul’s second letter to his friend and younger colleague in ministry by the name

of Timothy, let’s be reminded of Paul’s circumstances.  Many scholars hold that Paul was imprisoned

in Rome at the time this letter was written.  The charge against him:  refusing the demands of the

Roman authorities that he cease and desist from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As Paul was

languishing in a dark, dank jail cell, the fledgling church outside found itself under rising persecution. 

Instead of grand cathedrals which send their towers skyward in Rome today, in Paul’s and Timothy’s

time, Christians’ places of worship were the homes of its members, where they usually met with the

shades drawn.

"Chosen and Upheld"

Isaiah 42:1-9

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

      The 42nd chapter of this prophecy speaks of a servant; one who is chosen and upheld by the

Lord, and in whom God delights.  Commentators are in broad agreement that this is a prophecy

pointing toward the promised Messiah; the one who would speak for God; the one who would

give up life and liberty for the sake of the world on God’s behalf.  In our era and frame of refe-

rence, we recognize that Jesus – who came some five hundred years after this prophecy was

declared – best fits the bill as the One who was uniquely able to speak God’s word, and who

would indeed sacrifice life and liberty for the life and liberty of the people from whom and to

whom He was called.

"Unlawful Behavior"

Mark 2: 23-28

1 Samuel 21:1-6

      I never tire of stories shared by the late author and humorist Erma Bombeck.  She wrote of a

certain “supermom” who possessed the gift of seemingly being able to do everything right.  She

kept a spotless home.  She cooked like a chef.  She kept her husband happy.  She always had a

copy of Dr. Laura’s latest book on the coffee table. And she usually answered the door pregnant

when the priest came by for a visit. 

      “One day,” Bombeck wrote, “I asked her how she did it, and she said, ‘As a Catholic, I follow

the example of the blessed virgin Mary.’  And I said, ‘Marge, it’s a little late for that.’  She said,

‘Very well, I’ll tell you.  I have certain customs I follow daily without deviation.  Every evening,

when the children are bathed and tucked into their clean little beds, and their little shoes are

racked up, and their little clothes are all in the hamper, and I’ve heard all the little prayers of the

children, I fall down on my knees and say my own little prayer:  ‘Thank you, God, for not letting

me kill one of them today.’” 

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Telephone: 330-832-7455
Fax: 330-832-7102