Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 5-7 depicts the very notable Sermon on the Mount by Jesus, perhaps the most famous sermon given in the Bible – with an unusually well-detailed recording in the Bible. One of the most notable points of the Sermon on the Mount would arguably be the Beatitudes – generally considered to be the 8 verses of blessings from Matthew 5:3-10. Luke 6:17-26 is generally thought to be the same occasion, although only 4 of the 8 were listed and these 4 were followed immediately by complimentary ‘woes’. Matthew 5:8 – the blessing of the pure in heart, is one of the four that was not listed in Luke. In today’s study, we will examine the sixth beatitude and the promise that is in store for us.
Blessed – this word is fundamental to the entire concept of the Beatitudes – it was mentioned 9 times in 9 verses from Matthew 5:3-11, with verse 11 being seen as a further explanation and clarification on the last beatitude in verse 10. The word beatitude comes from the latin word ‘beatus’, and means happy, blissful and fortunate. The beatitudes aren’t just a blessing – they are extreme blessings that are supposed to give us great joy. The concept of blessings and blessedness in Christianity is an extremely important one – our God blesses us, and we receive blessings. The book of Psalms begin with the word ‘blessed’ in Psalms 1:1.The book of Revelations too, in Rev 1:3. At the end of the beatitudes Jesus breaks the pattern of starting by the phrase ‘blessed are’ and instead gives another promise – rejoice and be glad [Matthew 5:12] and the version in Luke says – Rejoice in that day and leap for joy [Luke 6:23]. Indeed, these are great blessings promised to certain people, and when these people receive these blessings, they are being greatly blessed and will have the capacity to rejoice and be happy. This is what the beatitudes are about.
pure in heart – Our God is a pure and holy God. Likewise, we are expected to lead pure lives. Our hearts, our thoughts, our desires, our actions – they should be pure. That our heart would be single-mindedly set out for God, that we would be down-to-earth and honest with no selfish interest, no ulterior motives, no hypocrisy. That we would lead lives without sin. Of course we would still err. Of course we would still sin. We’re humans after all. But when we do, let us stop sinning and repent before God. Let us not dwell in sin. Let us keep our hearts pure and open to God.
they will see God – If we try to put the entire sermon on the mount down into a single theme, the one consistent idea is the gospel of the kingdom of heaven [Matthew 5:3, 5:10, 5:19, 5:20, 6:10, 6:33, 7:21]. The idea of seeing God is often mentioned in the Bible. For example – Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him [Psalm 34:8]. Furthermore, John 14:6-7 tells us that it is through Christ Jesus our Lord that we can see the Father. What does all these mean? It certainly doesn’t mean that we will see God with our naked eyes, but that we understand him, we feel him, we know him. To be able to see God is like an honour – a glorious sight, a blessing, a reward for us. To be able to know God, to be able to be filled with the Spirit, to be able to see things from a kingdom perspective – these are all blessings, these are all rewards, and these will not come to anyone who is not pure in heart. Our God is holy. Our God is pure. How can we pretend to be pure in front of him when we’re hiding our privately dirty and sinful lives? How can we even expect to be able to see God or know God or hear God when we do not lead pure lives?
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob [Psa 24:3-4]. These verses convey the same idea – only those who have a pure heart and who does not believe in idols will be able to see God.
Have you ever tried to seek God, but you cannot find him? Have you ever tried to hear God’s voice, but you cannot hear him? Have you ever tried to feel God, but you cannot feel his presence? Have you ever tried to know God, but you simply don’t understand? Often, it’s not because of God. It’s not something he has done to keep away from us. It’s about us – that we simply haven’t been pure. Our God is a pure God. When we lead secretly dirty and complicated lives, how can we expect to stand before him? How can we expect to be filled by the Spirit? How can we expect to see God? Let us strive for physical, emotional and spiritual purity. Because our God is worth that effort.