Summary: A look at the first of the Beatitudes.
A. What does it mean to be hopeless?
B. Movie 50/50 car scene
C. What are some results from hopelessness?
II. Why would Jesus say hopeless?
A. Greek word is ptochos
i) Means “absolutely destitute”
B. Israelites knew what it meant to be hopeless
i) Babylonian Exile
a) Some people took up Babylonian traditions, some wallowed in sorrow of what they had done wrong to be punished this way, and some became like author of Ecclessiastes
b) Out of exile comes two great works: Isaiah and Job
ii) Roman rule
a) Israelites living in “enforced humility – which is humiliation” (Kalas)
b) They gave more than their share to the Roman empire
c) If Roman soldier tapped an Israelite on the back with his spear, the Israelite would have to carry his pack for 1 mile
iii) We know what it is like to be hopeless
III. How are we to interpret?
A. Difficult for us because we think opposite of this
i) We think to get into heaven you must have all the right spiritual credentials
ii) Surely someone who is “absolutely spiritually destitute” cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven
i) The Rabbi, the Cantor (synagogue liturgist), and the synagogue janitor
a) All three go in on Day of Atonement. The Rabbi beats his chest and says “I am nothing…” The Cantor goes in and beats his chest and says “I am nothing…” The Janitor goes in and beats his chests and says “I am nothing…” The Rabbi looks at the Cantor and says “Look who thinks they are nothing”
b) The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
ii) We don’t want to be hopeless
C. Admitting we are hopeless is first step
i) You can’t learn until you admit you don’t know anything
ii) AA says true recovery cannot happen until you admit you have a problem
iii) Come to the cross and admit you are a hopeless sinner
iv) Prayer of forgiveness in Holy Communion
D. Without grace we are hopeless
IV. How do we share Christ’s message with those who are hopeless?
A. Speak encouragement to each other
i) Ephesians 4:29: 29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. (CEB)
B. Works of mercy
i) "Why, that both repentance, rightly understood, and the practice of all good works, — works of piety, as well as works of mercy, (now properly so called, since they spring from faith,) are, in some sense, necessary to sanctification." (John Wesley)
ii) Do good things
i) Admit you are hopeless
ii) Humble yourself in front of God
iii) Seek him first
V. Call to Action