Blessed are those that get burned
7 Years ago I was asked to give a sermon over a selection from the beatitudes. If you’re not familiar with the beatitudes it is a section of scripture from one of the greatest sermons ever delivered, the Sermon on the Mount. It was a Sermon delivered by Jesus, the Son of God.
How do you give a sermon on a sermon and how do you add to the words of Christ? He’s the Son of God, God in the flesh; all things were created through him…. How do I give a sermon on one of his greatest sermons?
Then it hit me, I don’t need to add to anything. Our American English is so weak that all I have to do is go back and try my best to repaint the vibrant picture that Jesus would have. The Jewish culture is poetic in nature each word paints a bright picture. So lets try to look at what Jesus was saying in just these few words:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed simply means happy.
Happy are the pure at heart.
Let’s break it down even more.
The Greek word for pure is katharos. It alludes to purified by fire or pruning so as to bear fruit.
Blessed is the person whose heart has been purified by fire.
This starts to sound more familiar, blessed are the pure in heart didn’t quite fit in with…
Blessed are those who mourn
Blessed are the hungry
Blessed are poor
But “Blessed are those who get burned” does.
Jesus does this crazy thing where he flips the world upside down. He makes us view things from an unfamiliar perspective. Jesus looks at the world through “Kingdom Glasses” he sees the world with a “your kingdom come” mentality. A first will be last and the last will be first type of thing. His logic seems opposing to worldly logic.
As Jesus starts to speak of these blessed people I can only imagine the reaction from the audience…
The majority was probably thinking, “that sounds like me, I can identify with that!”
And then you had the Pharisees, the religious people, who were probably thinking, “yeah right, these people are so far from clean they will never see God”
Jesus was opening the Door to the kingdom to a whole new group of people that religion had locked out!
People that have lived life in a very familiar way,
People that have suffered through loss
People that have wrestled with addiction
People that have ran into the law
People that have LIVED life.
Jesus was killing the rules of religion and bringing to life a relationship with God!
Jesus wasn’t just hitting on the surface and outward appearance he was hitting the core of the matter.
The Pharisees thought they had it down,
They washed religiously
They prayed where everyone could see them
They called out the sinners
All of these things gave them the appearance of purity but it was just the appearance.
In fact Jesus called them hypocrites which is Greek for actor.
They were acting… their purity was just surface deep.
Actors can be convincing, in fact that’s what they are paid to do.
The Pharisees made it their life’s goal to be convincing, they had honed their craft. They were the Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freemans of religion.
Jesus went so far as to say they were white washed tombs, clean and pretty on the outside, but full of death on the inside.
Jesus is calling the hearts purified by fire into the kingdom.
The Heart that has suffered trial.
The greek word for heart is Kardia.
It denotes the center of all physical and spiritual life.
-the soul or mind as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors
Jesus is saying happy are those whose innermost being, the core of who they are has been purified by fire…. Whose impurities have come to the surface and been made known….
To purify silver or gold the impurities are separated and become obvious. They are laid out before the refiner and cannot be hidden.
Proverbs 17:3 - The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
Proverbs 24:5 - Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
Isaiah 48:10 - Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
Job 23:10 - But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Zechariah 13:9 - And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God
We have no way of purifying ourselves,
It is only God that can purify the innermost recesses of who we are.
If we purify ourselves it is like the Pharisees and is only surface deep.
The purity that Jesus is talking about can only come through him.
Hebrews says “God is an all consuming fire”
The impurities of our hearts are only purified by the ALL CONSUMING fire that is God. His fire burns the brightest and hottest as we LIVE life. As we go through struggle. As we battle with the flesh. As we feel pain.
Malachi 3:2-3 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross.”
As we go through the purification process, which is painful, we are not alone. In Malachi it says he will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. A refiner must sit and watch carefully as the silver is being purified…. The silver is delicate and can be damaged by too much time in the heat or too much heat. As we go through life, and suffer the trials of the purification process, God is right there with us. He is keeping a close eye on us… so that we are not damaged Making sure we are not damaged but rather come through the end of the process precious and ready to be used and adorned by him.
Isaiah chapter 48 says that he has chosen the furnace of affliction for our purification. The Hebrew word there carries the root that literally means “to afflict, oppress, humble, be afflicted, be bowed down” God has chosen this to be our furnace, in these times of trial we experience God in a new way. We experience the presence of God as he carefully watches over his precious creation to make sure that we are not harmed, knowing that the process is painful, but also knowing that it is necessary for our purification. He gently watches over us like a father watching over his baby after a surgery…. Concerned for our well being but knowing in the end we will come out of this better. That this is necessary for us to achieve life to the fullest. That without the trials and tribulations we are only able to experience life on the surface we are only able to act our way through life.
James chapter 1 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
As when we go through this purification and stand the test Jesus goes onto say:
Happy are those whose inner most being has been purified by the creator of life for they shall see God.
The greek word for see is horahoh – to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience
Blessed are those who have stood the trials of life, who have leaned on God, who have laid their impurities before the refiner and allowed him to remove them for they will come to know God by experiencing him in the trials, by interacting with the refiner of life…
Blessed are the pure at heart for they will see God.
Today allow your impurities to be laid bare before our father. Allow him, the all-consuming fire, to burn away the impurities of your heart.
Step into the presence of his all consuming flame and be cleansed.
See God… experience God!
Rev. 22:3-5 “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
This is the final image of the pure in heart….
This is the end result of what Jesus was preaching….
They will see his face, his name will be on their foreheads, they will not need a light, God will be their light, and they will reign forever and forever.
But don’t live for the end result, live as Jesus said “to the fullest” live as he prayed “your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” live as James wrote “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Know what Paul meant when he wrote “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
I think it is appropriate to end with a prayer; a prayer of repentance and thanks giving… this is a selection from Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.