Mountain Top Living ~ Part 3: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
The sublime sermon begins with the blessings of the Messiah on an unlikely list of personalities known as the Beatitudes. The kingdom of Heaven is proclaimed by Christ to be of immeasurable value throughout the Gospels. Jesus compares it to a “treasure hidden in a field” or a “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:44-46). The Kingdom is eternal and “not of this world” (Jn. 18:36). Yet, we will find it totally victorious over the kingdoms of this world (Rev. 11:15). Moreover, Christ in His temptation, yields not to their fleeting earthly glory but upholds the majesty of the one true God of Israel (Matt. 4: 8-10).
The kingdom of heaven is promised to be possessed by the improbable “poor in spirit.” Those who are spiritually destitute, dependent, and impoverished have the real capacity to receive His kingdom. Those whose hearts are filled with frivolities of pride, possessions, and self-will are unable to receive the innumerable riches of His Kingdom. Jesus, rejected in his own hometown of Nazareth, identified Himself with the “poor in spirit” by proclaiming the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:18,19)
We are reminded of the young man who questioned, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The inquirer rejected the counsel of Christ for the vanity of the world. First, we see that his heart had fallen prey to pride and self-righteousness. Christ gave a partial list of the ten commandments that the young man carelessly dismisses as “kept” in justifying himself without further thought or introspection. It is the very unnamed first commandments along with covetousness that we find him guilty by story end.
Jesus reveals that the rich young ruler “lacks one thing” and lovingly commands him to “sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” His heart was filled with pride and possessions because he will not relent the earthly riches in the pursuit of eternal life with Christ. His allegiances are with the world and himself. He became sorrowful because he had not the poverty of spirit required for the inheritance of eternal life (Lk. 18:18-23).
In contrast, the apostles Peter and John find at the temple gate, a man totally incapacitated and deprived by lameness. He is “carried” daily to beg from those who enter at the place called “Beautiful.” He had not any pride but begs in humiliation, he had not possessions but dependent on the daily mercy of almsgivers, his own will becomes powerfully superseded by the grace of God. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
What begins in richness and self-righteousness ends in sorrow with the young ruler. What begins in total deprivation and poverty ends in joy. “So he, leaping up, stood and walked, and entered the temple with them- walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:1-11). The lame man, who was prohibited to enter the temple by law and tradition (Lev. 21:15), is now welcome into the full fellowship of God by the blessing of Jesus.
We must empty ourselves of the pretension of pride, possession, and self-will. Let the true richness of God’s kingdom find reign in our hearts with this blessing.