Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit”
The Sermon on the Mount is taught in the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Immediately after his baptism and temptation he had begun to announce the good news that the kingdom of God, long promised in the Old Testament Era, was now at hand. He himself had come to inaugurate it. He said: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
The sermon of the mount is to be seen in this context. It portrays repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. In other words, it would describe what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
And what do they look like? Different! Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s Kingdom, were to be entirely different from others. The Sermon on the Mount elaborates the theme that the believers’ character was to be completely distinct from the World. The disciples of Christ are supposed to shine like lights in the darkness of the world. Their righteousness was to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.
In fact, there is no single paragraph on the Sermon on the Mount that the contrast between Christian and non-Christian standards is not drawn. Sometimes Jesus compared the difference with the World: Non-Christians love and salute the World, but Christians love their enemies. Sometimes Jesus used the Pharisees to do the contrast: He pointed to them as having an outside purity but with a hypocrite behaviour, once they honoured God with their lips but their hearts were far away from Him.
Tonight is the first chapter of a series that will change my life completely.
As we call the Sermon on the Mount the beatitudes, let me give you the meaning of it. The word “beatitude” that comes from the Latin meaning happy or blessed. Walter Bauer in his Greek-English Lexicon defines this word as the “privileged recipients of divine favour.”
Being happy or blessed in our days mean something completely different than what this word really means. Being happy nowadays is related to the way you feel and the way you feel is related with the circumstances you are experiencing in the moment. Being blessed is normally seen as being successful, healthy and wealthy, having power, fame and not lacking anything.
Blessed in this case means to become the privileged recipients of divine favour.
These two paradigms are addressed upfront by Jesus when he says Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Consider, those who are poor in spirit, who hunger and thirst for righteousness are the privileged recipients of God’s divine favour, therefore they’re blessed and happy.
Being blessed means to feel purposeful and fulfilled in God’s will, character and comfort, independent of the circumstances that surround you. The worldly meaning of being blessed means that you have achieved your goals and success and it does not point to Jesus, but to yourself. The biblical meaning of being blessed brings us to a place of dependence and connection with God, on weather successful or not, in good and in bad moments, in health and wealth or in sickness and poverty, you will be with Him and know He is with you.
Psalm 1 gives us a very good meaning for the word blessed. It says:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV)
And so those who are blessed are those who keep God’s commandments. They are the recipients of His divine favour.
And so was we enter into today’s subject and this sermon series, we must ask,
• “Are we willing to accept the radical teaching of Jesus?”
• “Are we willing to let it change our lives in the radical way they’re intended?”
Blessed are the poor in Spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of God.
Blessed, fulfilled, full of purpose, being privileged recipients of God’s divine purpose are the poor in Spirit. But what is to be poor in Spirit? What is the first word that comes to your mind?
Just so that we can define somethings: Being poor in Spirit is not:
1. It is not said, blessed are the poor in estate, but blessed are the poor in spirit: it is not a poverty of purse and possession, but a poverty of spirit, that entitles us to the blessing.
2. It is not said, blessed are the spiritually poor, but blessed are the poor in spirit: he that is destitute of the grace and spirit of Christ, that has no sense of his spiritual wants, he is spiritually poor, but he is not poor in spirit.