At first glance, there seems to be a number of contradictions regarding peace, peacemaking, and the Christian. Most commentators write only narrowly on peacemaking, approaching it almost entirely in regard to mediating between disputing people. Good as far as it goes, this is inadequate in describing what the beatitude means.
Jesus was a peacemaker; in Isaiah 9:6, He is titled "Prince of Peace." Here, however, an apparent contradiction appears. We might think that, if anyone could successfully mediate between warring parties, He could. If anyone could bring peace, perhaps even impose it, He could. But He did not. In fact, He says in Matthew 10:34-36, quoting Micah 7:6:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to "set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." And "a man's foes will be those of his own household."
Nonetheless, Jesus is still our model; His life is the pattern ours should follow. Paul writes in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Undoubtedly, Jesus did this, but it did not produce peace at that time. Some perceived His life, popularity, and words as so threatening that they put Him to death. Some were moved to jealousy while others, enraged, incited the populace against Him to sway Pilate's judgment. His life, death, and resurrection, however, enabled Him to be the instrument of our peace with God and each other by qualifying Him as the payment for sin and High Priest to mediate for us before the Father.
The following verses add several necessary elements:
» I John 2:2: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
» Romans 3:25-26: [Jesus,] whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
» Hebrews 5:9-10: And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek."
» Ephesians 2:14-18: For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
As a human, Jesus of Nazareth certainly had more success mediating between disputing parties than we ever will under similar circumstances. Even though His life created conflict and hostility in others, it did not stop Him from living the life of a peacemaker so that He could become a real Peacemaker upon His resurrection as Savior and High Priest. The life He lived as a man cannot be separated from what He became. It is the model of the kind of peacemaking Jesus intends in the Beatitude.
Peacemaking involves not only mediating but also everything the person is, his attitude and character as well as what he intends to accomplish. Peacemaking is a package dominated by the godliness of the person. Thus, Paul says in Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."