Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit (Matthew 5:3)
- Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit (Matthew 5:3)
- Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Matthew 5:4)
- Blessed Are The Meek (Matthew 5:5)
- Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst For Righteousness (Matthew 5:6)
This series of articles will seek to explore and consider the various “Blessed” statements found in Matthew 5:1-12. In this section of Scripture we find the beginning of what is commonly known as The Sermon on the Mount. Many know this section as The Beatitudes. Essentially entering into an exposition of the Law, the Lord Jesus Christ seeks to drive home where, and with whom, true blessedness resides. We will see that this conferring of favour was diametrically opposed to the Pharisaic way of thinking.
Blessed. This word has in mind “blissful, joyful, favored.” The thought “to be envied” could also be in view. We have more than just an emotion here. Here we have a deep-seated contentment that is not fueled by possessions and circumstances, but by the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is timeless and changeless unlike the world roundabout us. The worldly route is force-fed to us on a daily basis. Get the right job, the right car, the right house, the right spouse, and all will be well. This is happiness defined by the world. We shall see that our Lord has a very different take on what blessedness is. It will be helpful and sobering for the student to consider the “woes” of Matthew 23 in comparison with these “Blessed” statements. Each statement is rich in meaning and we trust that the reader will be edified and encouraged by the simple thoughts expressed in connection with this passage.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3, ESV)
The first conferring of favour is upon those who are “poor in spirit.” What is it to be “poor in spirit”? Isaiah reminds us that:
But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:2, NKJV)
For God to look upon one in this context is for Him to have favour upon them. Notice where the poverty is: “…in spirit.” This is not an outward disposition of depravity and dreariness. What we have here is an inward reality. A bankruptcy of the spiritual sort. This is a poverty that only Christ can alleviate. The Lord Jesus would remind Nicodemus in the Gospel according to John that this was indeed a spiritual issue when He said to him, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7, KJV). This was drastically different from the self-sufficiency of the Pharisees. They were interested in checking off their boxes each and every day. That’s legalism. It’s disgusting in the sight of God. They flaunted their perverted sense of righteousness but never understood what it was to repent. We are presented with the contrast in the Gospel according to Luke when we read:
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NKJV)
It was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who “went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14, NKJV). These are those of whom it can be said “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, ESV). It belongs to the broken, not the boasting. Eternal life is for those who understand that they are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1, KJV). This is truly the greatest of riches. We have done nothing to save ourselves. We can do nothing. “By grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5, ESV). We discover that it is “the gift of God” (Eph 2:8, ESV). We would ask the reader this question, “Have you known what it is to be poor in spirit?” We must face the reality that we are all “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1, KJV). We all need The Lord Jesus Christ. I’m so thankful that I can join the anonymous hymn writer in singing:
I am a feeble sinner,
But Jesus died for me.
One day I’ll experience the final verse of that hymn:
In glory, in glory,
For ever with the Lord,
I’ll tune my harp, and with the saints
I’ll sing with sweet accord;
And as I strike the golden strings
This all my song shall be,
I was a feeble sinner,
But Jesus died for me.