Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
In the first four chapters of his Gospel, Matthew prepared us for this moment: the moment when Jesus would open his mouth to address us directly and teach us. Matthew wants to include us among Jesus’ disciples sitting at his feet on the mountain. If we are a disciple of Jesus, in this very moment Jesus is teaching us directly using the same words that he spoke to the disciples gather around him on the mountainside.
Last Sunday based on Matthew 9:36, we learned that Jesus saw the crowds has harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. They were all “poor in spirit.” They had nothing of spiritual value to bring to Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. They were all broken by their sin – every one of them. Just like every one of us – we are all broken by our sin.
What separated the disciples from the crowd was that the disciples came to Jesus. They brought their brokenness to Jesus. We, too, step out from the crowd of this world and come to Jesus with nothing but our brokenness to offer to Jesus.
Like the disciples on the mountainside, we sit broken at the feet of Jesus. Jesus opens his mouth and the first word Jesus speaks is . . .
What a glorious revelation of the heart of God toward us. Jesus looks at us and says, “blessed.” It is God’s heart, God’s desire, God’s intent to bless us.
There are people conditioned to think that God is playing a cosmic game of “gotcha” with our lives. These people have the image of God sitting on His heavenly throne waiting for us to mess up. When we do inevitably sin God leaps from his throne and says, “Aha, gotcha . . . I saw that, now repent miserable worm of a sinner to appease my wrath or suffer the consequences of my judgement.”
This is a Satanic image. God is not playing cosmic “gotcha”. Rather, God says to us: “I bless you!” When we sin, our sin grieves God’s heart. Yes, God wants us to repent, but not to appease his wrath – Jesus by his atoning blood took on himself the wrath of God that should have been ours. God wants us to repent so that we position ourselves to receive the constant flow of his blessing to us.
Jesus opens his mouth and teaches us saying . . .
Notice that we are blessed – blessed in the present tense. Jesus does not point us to the future by saying “you will be blessed.” Jesus does not point us to transaction, you are blessed, or you will be blessed “if you are poor in spirit.” Jesus’ focus is in the here and now. Blessed are you in the here and now.
Let me repeat again Jesus is not setting up a transaction between Himself and us. Jesus is not saying, I will bless you if you are poor in spirit.” Jesus is not saying, “I will bless you when you become poor in spirit.
Hear Jesus’ words carefully – there is no condition in them, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. The statement assumes the poor in spirit exist and that the poor in spirit are inherently blessed.
Can you see that Jesus is telling us that we are blessed – in the present – because we are – in the present – poor in spirit.
This is the Good News of the Kingdom that . . .
Our brokenness – our poverty in spirit - is our blessing!
Our brokenness – our poverty in spirit - is our blessing!
I am not saying that God blesses us by making us broken. I am saying that we are broken by our sin, and when we bring our brokenness to God – he blesses us.
Everyone in the entire world is broken. Here the word of the Lord:
Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Every person on earth stands empty-handed before God. There are no good works, no achievement of moral and ethical character, no righteousness of our own doing that qualifies us for God’s forgiveness of our sins and merits for us eternal fellowship with him.
In our unredeemed state, we are all spiritual zeros. Dallas Willard translates Matthew 5:2 like this:
Blessed are the spiritual zeros – the spiritually bankrupt, deprived, and deficient, the spiritual beggars, those without a wisp of ‘religion’ – when the kingdom of the heavens comes upon them.
Willard continues, “The pages of the Gospels are cluttered with such people. And yet: ‘He touched me.’ The rule of the heavens comes down upon their lives through their contact with Jesus. And then they too are blessed – healed of body, mind, or spirit – in the hand of God.”
We are all broken – we are all poor in spirit, but the Gospel is that the kingdom of heaven is open to spiritual zeros like us – if we will come to Jesus. Faced with this good news what would keep a harassed, helpless, spiritual zero from coming to Jesus and experiencing the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. Let me offer four responses that keep us spiritual zeros from coming to Jesus.
content slide with 4 points
1. Denial – we deny our brokenness – we say, “there’s nothing wrong with me.”
2. Projection – we project our brokenness on others – we say, “Actually, you are the problem”; or we say “they are the problem – not me.”
3. Self-management – we attempt to self-manage our brokenness – we say, “I’m broken but I can manage it just fine.”
4. Surrender – We surrender to our brokenness. We say, “This is just who I am; I was born this way; there’s nothing I can do – even if I want to be different than I am.
What distinguishes the disciples of Jesus is that Jesus’ disciples step out of the crowd and bring their brokenness to Jesus.
“A man with leprosy came and knelt before [Jesus] and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.”
Disciples of Jesus sit at the feet of Jesus and absorb his teaching. By the work of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves saying to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” And Jesus says to us, “I am willing, be clean!”
Our brokenness is our blessing in this sense – we don’t have to work to become “poor in spirit.” We already are “poor in spirit.” This beatitude is not about our performance. We do not have to become poor in spirit to be blessed. Rather, this beatitude is about our condition we are blessed to be in a condition where we can receive God’s grace.
· If we will not deny our brokenness
· If we will not project our brokenness on to others
· If we will not self-manage our brokenness
· If we will not surrender to our brokenness
If we will acknowledge our brokenness and bring our poor spirit to Jesus, then we are blessed
because . . .
The Kingdom of Heaven is Ours!
The Kingdom of Heaven is Ours!
The kingdom of heaven is first and foremost the realm where God’s will is perfectly done in every respect. Jesus is saying to us that when we bring our brokenness to Him, we find ourselves enveloped within the reality of the perfect reign and rule of God. We are blessed because we have now entered into the place where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can and will apply all the resources of heaven to bring shalom – complete wholeness and well-being in every dimension of our life.
That does not mean we will experience instantaneous wholeness in every respect of our lives. Although, we may experience it in an aspect or aspects of our lives. Sometimes God in his mercy grants to us immediate healing in body, mind, or emotions. It is common to find people that God instantly delivered of alcoholism or drug addiction or for whom God created a miraculous financial turnaround or marriages restored in a brief time. The list could go on and on. However, that is not everybody’s story. For other people – in fact for all of us – there is an area or areas of our life where the road to recovery and wholeness is a long and difficult one. Complete wholeness awaits us when we see Jesus face to face.
Having said that, the message of this beatitude is that we can enjoy substantial progress in the kind of life that God created for us to live – a life enveloped in an awareness of God’s constant flow of blessings to us, His constant care of us and His constant provision for us.
If we will step into what it means to be blessed because we are poor and spirit, we will welcome our total dependence upon God for everything in our lives and every breath we breathe. If we understand what it means to enveloped as a child of the King with in the rule and reign of the kingdom of heaven we will grow more and more capable of discerning God’s blessing in all that comes to us. We are enveloped in the rule and reign of God – the God who only can and will act toward us with complete and perfect love – God allows nothing into our lives that he will not use to make us more like Jesus – and that is the goal. The goal of every disciple is to become like their Master.
Is it enough of a blessing for us to know that God is moving heaven and earth to make us like Jesus?
If it is not, there is nothing God can do for us that will satisfy us. We will constantly be running after this blessing and that blessing.
The point, the whole point, of being a disciple of Jesus is to become increasingly like Jesus. You see, the more we become like Jesus individually and as a church family the more capable we become of walking in this world with the kind of confidence, courage, insight, wisdom, compassion, and love Jesus demonstrated in this world, because the life of Jesus is in us and lives through us.
The more we become like Jesus individually and as a church family the more confident we become that Jesus really is the solution to the brokenness of this world – and everyone who will come to Jesus will be blessed because he will move heaven and earth to make them more like him.
Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Although we can not see our Lord with our physical eyes, He nonetheless is present with us this morning moving among us. He sees our brokenness – our spiritual poverty and he implores us: do not deny it, do not project it, do not try to manage it, do not surrender it – acknowledge it and bring it to me. You are blessed when you bring your brokenness into my presence because there all the resources of the kingdom of heaven are put to work to bring complete wholeness to your life.
We must decide if Jesus is truthful and capable. Is Jesus telling us the truth when he says we are blessed in our spiritual poverty because when we come to him we are enveloped in the rule and reign of the kingdom of heaven? Is Jesus competent to deliver the wholeness we seek when we bring our poor spirits to him?
As true disciples of Jesus let us bank everything on the truthfulness and competency of Jesus when he says to us, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997. p. 100.
 Ibid. p. 101.
 Matthew 8:2–3
 Matthew 18:20