Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Did Jesus Teach? -- The Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This was the first of Jesus' statements that we refer to as the Beatitudes. As I mentioned last time, these are very counter-cultural in that they make statements about happiness that we would not naturally say.

In Psalm 34:18, the writer says that God is near to those with a broken heart and He saves those with a contrite heart. A contrite heart is one that feels regret and sorrow for sins and offenses.

In Psalm 51:17 he writes that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” Isaiah tells us that God dwells with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15)

And so we find that the first thing that Jesus wants us to know is that down is the way up. Being poor in spirit, recognizing ones spiritual bankruptcy and inability to bring anything to the table is God's first step in bringing us into his kingdom. We usually want to come to God with our list of accomplishments and perfections. We're hoping that when we show up at those “pearly gates” God is going to examine us to see if our good deeds outweigh the bad. That's not what Jesus or the Bible teaches. God wants us to come empty handed.

The promise associated with this Beatitude is that those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a kingdom and there is a king. God is that king. Someday He will extend that kingdom beyond sort of the spiritual dimension to include the physical world and everyone and everything in it. Jesus is telling us here who that kingdom will belong to. It belongs to those who are poor in spirit.

Next Tuesday we'll look at Jesus' statement, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

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