Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 5:1-2
In Matthew 5 Jesus begins teaching a section of scripture called “The Beatitudes.” This translates as “Full of Blessing”or “Full of God, fully and wholly satisfied in God, connected to God and having God live in you.” Simply put, Jesus is saying this is how to have the good life, the best life.
For all the Jews in the crowd this image of Jesus sitting on a mountainside would have reminded them of Moses coming down the mountain revealing God’s law, the 10 commandments, to the Israelites. But this time Jesus isn’t giving us a list of “dos” and “don’ts.” Instead he’s saying “this is how things really are and how life really works.”
What comes out of Jesus’ mouth next is shocking, countercultural, counterintuitive, and different than what any other teacher or philosopher was saying. Still today what Jesus taught about life leaves many wondering how this works.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
Remember who Jesus is talking to in this moment. He’s talking to a bunch of people that are weighed down by religious expectations. There is law after law and rule after rule. And these people are at the end of their rope. They cannot live up to the exception any longer. Spiritually speaking they are bankrupt and unable to continue on. Also in the crowd there are religious people that think they have earned the right to be with God based on their good deeds and avoidance of bad behavior.
Jesus looks at this crowd and says it’s the spiritually bankrupt that will inherit the kingdom of heaven. The image that Jesus paints is one of the down and outs, the beggars, the people that cannot help themselves. It’s those that recognize they need a savior that will get the kingdom of heaven.
Those that are poor in spirit realize that nothing they do can get them into heaven. Some might think they can earn their way to God, but Jesus says that the kingdom is for those that recognize their dire situation and their desperate need for a savior.
This flies in the face of the way the world operates. It’s the strongest and most put together people that get the good life. But not so in God’s kingdom. It’s those that become poor, those that recognize their need, those that cry out for their savior that will get the good life.
If we want the best life each of us must first make ourselves poor in spirit. We must recognize our dire situation and that the only way out is to rely on God.
Read the next article in the Series: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn