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LESSON 8 - THE PEACEMAKERS (MATTHEW 5:9)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This week we study those who make peace. What comes
to mind when I mention peace? Normally, we think of peace as the
absence of conflict. Under that definition, think for a minute
about your life and whether you have been a "peacemaker" or a
"troublemaker."  Have you found that in the past your religious
beliefs have gotten you into trouble?  Have you also found in the
past that forgetting your religious beliefs for a critical moment
or two has also gotten you into trouble?  Let's see what we can
learn about bringing God's peace into our lives!

I. IS PEACE A GOAL?

     A. Turn with me to Matthew 5:9. Read.  Should it be out goal
     to "make peace?"

          1. Why? (Jesus implies that we should make peace because
          this is a characteristic of our Father in Heaven.  We are
          His children if we are peacemakers.)

     B. If this is true, how do you explain what Jesus says five
     chapters later in Matthew 10:34? Read.

          1. Jesus says that He did not come to bring peace.  He
          came to bring a sword!

          2. Can we "make" peace, without "bringing" peace?

          3. Are Matthew 5:9 and Matthew 10:34 reconcilable?

          4. How can Jesus be called "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6)
          when He says He came to bring a sword and not peace?

          5. Is peace merely the absence of conflict?

               a. Or can sword carriers bring peace?

          6. The United States has a deadly missile called the
          "Peacemaker."  Were the people who named that missile on
          to something or on to nothing? Let's find out!

II. PEACEFUL TROUBLE?

     A. Turn with me to John 14:27. Read.  Does this suggest that
     Jesus has a different definition of the word "peace" than the
     world's definition of peace?

     B. Let's see what we can learn about the context of Jesus'
     statement. Turn back a few verses to John 13:36-14:3.

          1. What is worrying Peter? (That Jesus told him He is
          leaving -- and He is not taking Peter! (v.36))

          2. If Peter is worried about Jesus leaving, and he cannot
          remain with Jesus, what is Peter supposed to do?  To what
          does he have to look forward? (Jesus tells Peter (14:1-3)
          to trust Him that He will get Peter and bring him to live
          with Him in the future. This week, for the first time,
          our son went on a trip without either of his parents.
          Peter was experiencing the kind of anxiety that arises
          with a separation from our loved ones.)

          3. Jesus continues in the next verses of John 14 to
          discuss His leaving. Let's pick up the dialogue in John
          14:26-27. Read.

               a. Having reviewed the context, what do you think
               Jesus means when He uses the word "peace?" (He is
               talking about trusting Him during emotional
               upheaval. He is talking about the absence of worry
               during a difficult time.)

               b. Does that differ from the world's definition
               of peace? (He says "not ... as the world gives."
               v.27)

     C. Let's move a few chapters forward and read John 16:33.
     Remember earlier I asked you if peace was the absence of
     conflict?  Remember that we talked about "troublemakers" and
     "peacemakers?"  Does this suggest that we can have trouble and
     Jesus' brand of "peace" at the very same time? (Jesus predicts
     that we will have trouble. But He says that we can have peace
     at the same time.)

          1.  What does He mean when He says, "I have overcome the
          world?" (He is giving the same message He gave to Peter.
          That He is leaving, but He is coming back to make things
          right.)

III. PEACEFULLY BRINGING TROUBLE?

     A. So far we have established that we can have peace and
     trouble at the same time. Let's see if we can take this a step
     further.  Can we be peacemakers and bring trouble at the same
     time? Turn with me to Ephesians 2:1-3. Read.

          1. Are sinners at peace with God?

          2. If not, why not? (He is a perfect God, sin is
          offensive to Him. Jesus says (v.3) that "we were by
          nature objects of wrath.")

     B. Read Ephesians 2:13-17. These verses mention peace a number
     of times. How does Jesus bring us peace with God? (By dying
     for us, He has reconciled us to God.)

     C. If we spread the gospel do we fit the Matthew 5:9
     definition of "peacemakers?"

     D. Let's look at another text. Turn with me to Matthew
     10.  In the first few verses of this chapter Jesus is giving
     His disciples instructions for their "practice missionary
     trip." We want to focus on part of His instructions. Read
     Matthew 10:11-15.

          1. Jesus tells them that when they come to a town they
          may experience one of three end results. Can you tell me
          what are those three possible end results?

               (a. Welcomed by a worthy person whose home is
               deserving of receiving peace;

               b. Welcomed by a worthy person whose home is not
               deserving of receiving peace; or,

               c. Not welcomed: shake dust off your feet.)

          2. What do you think that Jesus means when he refers to
          "peace" that you leave, or "peace" that returns to the
          disciple?

               a. Does the context help us to figure this out?
               (Yes!  These disciples are spreading the message
               about Jesus. There are three classes of people.
               "Worthy" people who invite the disciple into their
               home, but do not accept the gospel. Worthy people
               who invite the disciple into their home and accept
               the gospel. Or those who reject even listening to
               the disciple.  The only ones who have peace are
               those who accept the gospel. From this I believe
               that being a "peacemaker" refers to someone who
               shares the gospel message of reconciliation with
               God through the blood of Jesus.)

     E. Does being a "peacemaker" refer only to spreading the
     gospel?  Do we have a definition of "peace" that is completely
     at odds with the world's definition of peace? Is there no
     overlap at all?

IV. PEACE AS THE ABSENCE OF CONFLICT

     A. Do Romans 12:17-21. Is this the "normal" definition of
     peace?  Is this how the world would define it?

     B. Did you see the last episode of "Seinfeld?" Is this the
     "Seinfeldian" definition of peace? (I do not watch this show,
     and did not see all of the final episode, but I saw enough to
     realize that "Seinfeld peace" means not getting involved.  It
     is the absence of conflict. Here we are positively commanded
     to do good to others -- even those who are not good to us.)

     C. Read Romans 14:15-22. Is this a text about peace? (Yes!
     v.19.)

          1. How would you describe this "peace?"

          2. Is this the kind of peace the world recognizes?

          3. What does this tell us that we should do about
          conflicts in doctrine within the church? (Verse 1 of
          chapter 14 is important. It reveals that we need to
          understand that certain matters of belief are
          "disputable." Therefore, we need to recognize which
          beliefs are more important than peace and which are less
          important than peace. The burden falls especially upon
          the "strong" in faith to be sure that they do not create
          unnecessary conflict in the church over "disputable
          matters."

V. NEXT WEEK: "THE PERSECUTED." Study Matthew 5:10!
Note to teachers: This lesson outline will probably be suspended
during the last three weeks of June and the first two weeks of
July. More details will follow later.