By Brooke Holt
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3
Jesus seemed to enjoy surprising people. In a time when religious leaders taught that the faithful followers of the Lord would be blessed with health, wealth, and a good life, Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with a seeming contradiction to that teaching: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Likely, those listening would scratch their heads in bewilderment. How in the world could one say that the poor were blessed?
This famous Sermon on the Mount began with Jesus teaching the Beatitudes. These are the “blessed” statements. Each built upon the other and together characterized the character traits of the people in the kingdom of God. Jesus came to proclaim that the kingdom of God was here and offered a new understanding of it. The King had come.
The first “blessed” statement spoke about being poor in spirit. It was and is the foundation for all those that would follow. The followers of Jesus, the recipients of this new kingdom, were and are called to embrace what it means to be poor. What does that mean? Poor in spirit was more than a call to not be a lover of money but a call to come with a humble approach to God, a recognition that we are all spiritually bankrupt. We cannot help ourselves or save ourselves. That is the work of a savior, and we all need a savior.
Jesus came to fulfill that need and to be our Savior. Through his death and resurrection, our debt of sin has been paid and our way to the Father has been made clear. Those who enter this kingdom of God are those that recognize their need for Jesus. At the time of Jesus, the most unlikely people were the first to enter the kingdom of God – the tax collectors, Roman centurions, prostitutes, and outcasts. These people were quick to see their need, confess it, and to put their faith and hope in Jesus.
What about you? Our society celebrates the independent, powerful, and wealthy people while Jesus welcomes the poor in spirit. Do you recognize your sin? Do you admit your need for a Savior? And are you willing to come to Jesus with empty hands? If so, you also will be “blessed”!
May you release the ways of the world to embrace this first beatitude of the Kingdom.
Consider how the Lord is inviting you to release pride, efforts, and the ways of the world to embrace this radical teaching of Jesus. Are you willing to become “poor in spirit”? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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