As we finish up with this first section of Jesus’ sermon, and we continue with the message of transformation Jesus is showing us here, we come to verses 8-16. These verses show the transformation being complete in a person deciding to follow Christ and being born again.
8God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:8-16, NLT)
Vs. 8: Only in Christ can our hearts be pure. The Bible tells us that on our own, our hearts are anything but pure. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jer. 17:9, NLT) So, this verse is clearly about a heart that has been changed and cleansed by God through faith in Christ. And because of that, we have the promise that we will see God for eternity in heaven, but we also have the Holy Spirit guiding us, and we can see God at work around us and know His presence with us.
Vs. 9: God blesses us as we do the work He’s called us to. We are called to be peacemakers. People know we are His children when we are loving peacemakers here on earth.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18, NLT)
Vs. 10-12: Because we now are born again and have the Holy Spirit, we have a strength and the grace of God to endure persecution, mocking, and unfair treatment. It is not by our own strength, but we can find joy and peace in the midst of it because of God and what He has done in our lives. We know that people rejected Christ, and so they will reject us for being His followers. This, to me, is one of the strongest signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. When we read about the Disciples, the night of Jesus’ arrest, they ran, they lied, they hid for fear of their own lives. But after the upper room experience when the Holy Spirit comes, they are different people. Suddenly they endure persecution without fear or hesitation. It is a remarkable and sudden difference.
I am also reminded of our brothers and sisters who are under persecution right now, especially in Afghanistan. We’ve heard the prayer requests from those in Afghanistan–that their faith will remain strong as they boldly share their faith in what is most likely the last hours and days of their lives before they are martyred for their belief in Christ. Please pray for them today.
Vs. 13: And because of what Christ has done in our lives, we cannot help but share the Good News of salvation. We are the “salt of the earth.” Through us, God shows the world His love and what makes life full and meaningful. Salt brings out the best flavors in food, it preserves food, and it can even heal wounds. As salt of the earth, maybe we are to be influencers who help show people the joy-filled, purposeful life of following Christ, help preserve hope, and help others find healing for their hearts and minds. God wants to use our lives to make a difference in the world for His glory and for the salvation of others.
Vs. 14-16: We are the “light of the world.” This is not our light that we are shining. That would not be much of a light at all. It is the light of Christ and the gift He has given us. We shine His light in the world giving hope and showing His mercy and grace to those who seek Him. When reading these verses it is almost as though we can’t help but shine His light because of all He has done for us.
So, clearly, Jesus began with the Gospel and takes the Gospel from first understanding of our need for a Savior and our complete spiritual bankruptcy to changed hearts and lives that make a difference in the world by glorifying God and making His name known among the nations.
As we disciple our children and others, we should follow Christ’s example. We should also remember that we are salt and light. If we are truly Christ’s disciples, people should be able to tell it by our attitudes and actions. Are we peacemakers or trouble-makers? Are we salt that gives life flavor or more of a salt-in-the-wound sort of person? Are we light reflecting Christ or shining a light on ourselves as we seek this world? Have we humbled ourselves before our loving God and surrendered to His leadership? That is what being a true disciple is all about.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me. (Galatians 2:20, NLT).
Memory Verses for Each Week:
I’ve started posting memory verses for families to memorize together. I’m posting them in ERV (Easy to Read Version) translation because it is one of my favorite translations for kids. I’ve also posted some worksheets to help with the memorization. You can find these on my Facebook page @terriehellardbrown or on Instagram at ter_h_brown.
Here are this week’s verses: