Summary: This is the first sermon in a series on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

The Poor in Spirit

Scripture reading: Matt. 4:23 - 5:16.

Text: Matt. 5:3.


Part of the Sermon on the Mount

1. Make a few remarks about the sermon generally.

a. The longest recorded continuous discourse of our Lord.

The greatest single sermon of all time.

b. Remember Who is speaking: This was no mere PREACHER, no mere PROPHET, no mere TEACHER--this was not even an Angela come down from Heaven with a message--this was God Himself in human form--the Lord of Glory, the King of kings; the Eternal Word of God, the only begotten of the Father, the one who spake like no other man ever spake. The one of whom Peter said, "Thou hast the words of eternal life."

“The people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

c. This sermon is Christ’s MANIFESTO--a manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven, which He declares to be “at hand” (see Matt. 4:17).

It is a description of LIFE IN THE KINGDOM, showing the acts and attitudes of the Kingdom’s subjects.

d. It was addressed to the disciples (5:2).

vv13 and 14 could not have been addressed to unbelievers, but only the disciples.

However, as far as we know, the multitude was in earshot, because Matthew tells us in 7:28 that “the people” were astonished at his doctrine.

One of the Beatitudes

2. Make a few remarks about the Beatitudes to give the context.

a. The Beatitudes are CHARACTERISTICS of true Christians.

Jesus is not here describing HOW TO BE SAVED. He is describing the saved person--He is describing a citizen of the Kingdom.

Poor in spirit; mourning; meekness; hunger after righteousness; merciful; purity of heart; peacemakers--every true Christian is characterised by these things. All these things are found in the summing up of his character.

Do we have these characteristics?

Do these things describe us?

b. They are PROGRESSIVE.

Jesus did not put these things together haphazardly.

There is a DISTINCT ORDER and progression noticeable in this arrangement of the Beatitudes.

They are like a ladder that must be ascended, one step at a time.

Poverty of spirit is the first step. It is the door, the entrance--the portal if you like--to the Kingdom of God.

Purity of heart is the sixth step, not the first, nor can it be first.

Verse 4 describes godly sorrow--this is the result of feeling our poverty of spirit--never the other way around.

Christ knew what He was talking about.

This is not just a collection of random statements, like so many stones lying around, but rather a stately building, each stone cemented into place in exactly the right spot.

c. There are seven--the number of completeness and perfection.

Some may dispute, but I state it simply as I see it.

Verses 3-9 describe the citizen of the heavenly Kingdom. These are all characteristics of the Christian, as we have said.

10 and 11 also start with “Blessed are...” but instead of describing character, they show the results of living this life--persecution.

Persecution is not a characteristic but a result of living a certain way--something that we endure from the world outside.

d. The teaching contained in these Beatitudes is TOTALLY REVOLUTIONARY--totally opposite to the mentality of the generality of mankind.

Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungry.

The world says "Blessed are the rich, the jolly, the self-confident, the self-assertive, the self-satisfied."

"Have a good self-image."

"Believe in yourself."

"Put yourself forward."

“Be assertive.”

This is the philosophy of the world.

The teaching of Jesus in these Beatitudes is the absolute antithesis of what the world values and recognizes.

e. Finally, the teaching of the Beatitudes is PARADOXICAL.

A paradox is a statement that is SEEMINGLY contradictory.

“Blessed are the poor, for they are rich,” is what verse 3 says, for who can be richer than he who possesses the Kingdom of Heaven?

“Happy are those that are sad,” says verse 4.

And so we could go on.


I have two things I want to look at in this verse, simply by dividing it up into its natural parts.

(1) The word “Blessed”

(2) The phrase, “the poor in spirit”

I had hoped to get to the final statement, “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” but I’m afraid time won’t allow. That will have to wait until another time.

(1) “Blessed”

Look at the word "blessed."

Greek = makarios--happy.

All these beatitudes should be "happy are...."

Jesus thus elevates happiness to a high and holy plane.

Don’t like "happiness"--its associations today: frivolity, FUN, etc.

Other uses of makarios: John 13:17; John 20:29; Titus 2:13 "happy hope."

Characteristic of God--1 Tim. 1:11 "the happy God;"

This is REAL happiness, as opposed to the terribly degraded idea of happiness that is current today.

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