March 14, 2010: “Blessed are the Pure in Heart”

Posted on : Mar 11th, 2010 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Perhaps growing up you heard your mother guilt you into taking a shower or cleaning your messy room by declaring with biblical authority: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  News to all the parents out there…that is not in the Bible!

However the scriptures mention “clean” quite a few times.  In the Jewish laws, to be unclean or impure separated one from God. In Leviticus “clean” is mentioned in 44 verses. One of the main jobs of the priests was to check to see if the people performed the rituals of purification, and then declare them clean (or not!). In the Beatitude for Sunday we have Jesus saying: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (The same Greek word for “pure” is also used to mean “clean.”)  I never knew how to feel about this beatitude because I never understood what “pure” in heart meant, and I was sure I’d only see God after I was dead.

To understand all the beatitudes we must remember to whom Jesus was speaking. Jesus had just come off a multiple city tour of teaching and healing every manner of disease. He was their Rock Star! We can surmise that the crowd surrounding Jesus in the beginning of the beatitudes was people who had been healed by him, and people eager to be healed, along with the curious. Jesus stunned the crowds with the opening statements which we know as the beatitudes!

Imagine being sick, diseased, and, by law, separated from your community, the temple and God because your sickness makes you unclean. Then you hear Jesus say: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. What?!! Eugene Peterson puts it well in The Message: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and your heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

Jesus is telling the crowd of people who were labeled unclean by the standards of their laws, that it is a clean or pure heart that God desires. If your heart is open and gathers up what is good and true you will see the goodness of God in all things. During this sermon adventure on the beatitudes a companion verse for me is the apostle Paul’s comment in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Sovereign.”

I can’t wait to see you all on Sunday!

Love,

Sue

This Sunday’s Scriptures:

Psalm 27: 1-4

God,

you are my light, my salvation –

whom will I fear?

You are the fortress of my life –

of whom will I be afraid?

When my enemies attack me, spreading vicious lies about me wherever they go,

they, my adversaries and foes, will stumble and fall.

Though an army mounts a siege against me,

my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me,

I’ll still be confident.

One thing I ask of you, God,

one thing I seek:

That I may dwell in your house all the days of my life to gaze on your beauty and to meditate in your Temple.

Matthew 15: 1-16

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?