Ps. 149; Rev. 7:2-17; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12.
Purifies, Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (vv. 2, 3).
This is to say, “like recognizes like”. Who we are does not appear to physical sight; rather to spiritual eyes. Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount in the power of blessings inaugurated those becoming his disciples to a new identity for knowing and seeing God “as he is”.
It is important Christian not fall into the misconception that the Beatitudes require the virtues of the law’s demands; rather the Beatitudes are imparted blessings from Jesus for our new status as God’s children, now!
God’s kingdom is present among us by his Word, in which we are a work in progress of the HS, “perfecting” us from faith to faith (cf. Mt. 5:48) to that end. Jesus’ blessings speak of our being “sealed” in word and Sacraments as new Israel on earth, represented by the “144,000male virgins” (Rev. 7:3, 4, 8; 14:4).
Heading-up Kingdom blessings is possessing “a spirit of poverty” (Mt. 5:3). At heaven’s end-time banquet there will be no rich people in attendance; which is to say, as bride, we bring nothing to the wedding celebration, but Thanksgiving. By Jesus’ blessing we lay aside all pride of merit; clothed with his robes of righteousness in joy and gratitude (cf. Mt. 22:11-14).
Baptism initiates our “sealing” into this spiritual poverty; we come before the Father clothed only in Jesus’ flesh: crucified, obedient, and dependent on God for all things. Jesus entered our humanity as Suffering Servant for atonement; and so, God exalted him above all (Phil. 2:5-9) as we following in his train.
The Beatitudes are a progression of empowerment at Jesus’ word. Baptized into Jesus’ crucified body, we are minted into his humility for mercy as he is merciful; “we love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).
In poverty of spirit, we learn meekness for mourning over sin’s wrack and ruin. Enrolled into the church militant on earth, the 144,000 are sustained by word and Sacrament for “coming out” of this world’s tribulations (Rev. 7:14). Thus, the Baptized are garbed in white robes for worship in purity before God with the innumerable multitude of heaven (v. 9).
How will we be recognized at Jesus’ Parousia coming; will it not be by our martial-like fidelity to the church’s word and Sacraments for an on-going sealing? Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day we are purified “as he is pure”; so that on the Last Day, “like recognizes like”.
Blood is the cleansing agent of the body for life (Gen. 9:4). Jesus’ blood, shed for forgiveness is tangibly the beatitude of purity’s blessing. As Jesus knows the Father in holiness, we by faith are permitted to behold his merciful face in worship.
Sanctified worship is described by the Psalmist, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart … who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps. 24:3-6b) processing up Zion in word and Sacrament.
Look to the east, the rising Sun at our Altar; there we recognize Christ, “appearing as he is” in the “breaking of the Bread” (Lk. 24:30, 31, 35; Acts 2:42). As we continue to ascend Zion, Jesus speaks his blessings for our coming-out of the world and tribulations.
The final blessings for the church are peace and reconciliation, by which Jesus continues to restore wholeness in the new heavens and earth. Be aware that the church’s gospel “peace” is not universally welcome.
Peace with God does not admit of peace with the world; rather one must expect this blessing in persecution. Thus, the church mirrors the experience of her Lord for which the church militant must be continually sealed in her faith.
Later, Jesus would explain Christian persecution (Mt. 9:35-11:19). He had come into the world for division by a “Sword” (10:34). As the church’s “eternal gospel” out of heaven (Rev. 14:6) Jesus’ presence confronts all men with a choice about identity, his and ours.
If we love worldly families and associates more than Jesus; tribulation in the world will deal us a gut-wrenching fact, that “one’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt. 10:36) both physical and spiritual.
On the level of spiritual families, we observed last Sunday, the “violence of men” against “an eternal gospel” within broader Christendom, (Mt. 11:12) as prompt for our celebration of the Lutheran Reformation.
Jesus’ presence in the world, brings crisis to families. In some, his “peace” is received with hospitality (Mt. 10:12-14); as for attendant persecutions, Jesus’ blessing of peace empowers our fidelity for “Righteousness’ sake”; but if we refuse his leading to the cross we are unworthy of his salvation (Mt. 10:34-39).
Peace, forgiveness, healing, purity, and restoration is Christ’s work alone bestowed in faith, by which God beholds our final “perfecting”. In him, we are sons and daughters who worship God with all the angels and saints now and on the Last Day. Amen.