Summary: Each Beatitudes is a proverb-like saying, cryptic, precise, and full of meaning which isn't always crystal clear and using the NRSV and the Message for 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' reveals the importance of GRACE.
The Beatitudes - You’re Blessed (NRSV vs The Message) - Matt 5:3
Todays gospel for All saints day is known as the “Beatitudes” and is one of the best known and loved verses of the Gospel.
It forms the beginning of what has come to be known as the “Sermon on the Mount”
Jesus saw the crowds coming to Him, so He went up on a mountainside and sat down, the well-known posture of the teacher.
The traditional location of this “mount” is the low hills behind the region of Capernaum and the other fishing villages on the shore.
His disciples came to Him, and so Jesus began to teach them and what follows has been described as the manifesto of His kingdom, Jesus unveils the foundations and character of life in that kingdom.
Here He teaches the ethical guidelines for life in His kingdom; and the guidelines point to the quality of righteousness that characterizes life in the kingdom, now in part, but fully in the future.
Each Beatitudes is a proverb-like saying, cryptic, precise, and full of meaning and each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme.
So you could spend a lot of time on each one--and that would be worth doing if you so desired so let us look at one this morning.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – the meaning itsn’t always crystal clear so sometimes its useful refer to other translations to get a clearer picture.
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. – (The Message)
Each Beatitude consists of 2 phrases, the condition and the result, the condition from the OT context but the result Jesus teaches a new interpretation – a new set of Christian ideals that focus on a spirit of love and humility an echo of His teaching on mercy, spirituality and compassion.
But what does it mean to be poor in spirit? And why being poor in spirit results in having the Kingdom of Heaven?
Being poor in spirit has little to do with riches and possessions although they can inhibit the spirit to make it poor.
Being poor in spirit is all to do with our utter spiritual bankruptcy before God, because of our sin we are alienated from God.
We are sojourners and can never in our sin approach the most Holy God of our creation.
Jesus is saying that no matter your status in life, you must recognise your spiritual poverty before you come to God in faith to receive the salvation that He offers through His Son.
God offers us salvation as a gift, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the full payment for sin’s penalty.
Before we can receive this gift, we must understand that we cannot make ourselves worthy of it.
Salvation is by grace through faith, not of works and we must recognize our sinfulness before we can understand our need for a saviour.
We must admit our spiritual poverty before we can receive the spiritual riches God offers, we must, in short, be “poor in spirit.” To inherit the kingdom of heaven.
We must recognise our utter worthlessness of our own spiritual currency and inability of our own works to save ourselves.
A vicar had a dream. He was on his way to heaven.
Before him there stretched a long flight of stairs. As he started to go up, he was given a piece of chalk and told that he must put a chalk mark on each of the steps for each sin he had committed.
When he was about halfway up when he met the bishop coming down.
He enquired why his Lordship was returning, and the bishop answered, "I’m just going back to get some more chalk!" (illustration by Owen Bourgaize)
Perhaps we feel like that too! Realizing our sin, our unworthiness - But that’s where Grace comes in.
The confession for Morning and Evening Prayer of the 1662 BCP puts it so beautifully:
‘we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done,
and there is no health in us:
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable sinners;’
Miserable sinners – poor in spirit - yes but by God’s Grace through Christ’s atonement we are made pure.
We might be at the end of a rope but there is Christ pulling us up by His divine gift of Grace, and so we are made fit for the kingdom of heaven.
Christ’s blood washes away our sins and converts us from Sinners into Saints.
Blessed ARE the poor in Spirit for theirs IS the kingdom of Heaven!