Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Let’s pick up where we left off… In Matthew 5:1 the crowd is there and Jesus has left and gone up on the mountain and He has sat down and His disciples have come up the mountain to and for Him and they sit at His feet.
Then we read in Matthew 5:2 that Jesus opened His mouth…
Let us recall that this word “opened” in this verse in the Greek is anoigó and it means to open, break a door, a gate. Metaphorically it means to give entrance to the soul. It means to furnish opportunity to do something, to open to one, to grant something asked for, to speak freely, to hold nothing back. It means one who recovers the power of speech to restore the faculty of hearing, to part the eyelids so as to see, to open the eyes of one’s mind, to unseal, to unroll.
Beloved, did you let that sink in?
Are you there? Have you separated yourself from the chaos and cries and demands of the crowd? Those that are there only because they want something from you to meet their own immediate needs. Those that will allow you to convince yourself that as long as you are meeting their needs and serving them that these good works are enough to deem you righteous and worthy of eternity?
Have you looked up from the hard work to realize that Jesus is no longer there with you? That He has pulled away. That He has separated Himself from the crowd and gone up where once again His voice can be heard. He knows that you are listening to the wrong voices and are caught up in the chaos. He has stepped away not to abandon you in your service, but to call you to Himself. He knows how very easy it is to get distracted and disjointed. He knows you need refocused.
There is more to righteousness than knowing the Law and there is more to righteousness than doing good deeds. There is more to being blessed than being healed and happy. As a matter of fact we will learn that healed and happy doesn’t even make the list.
And there is more to the kingdom of the Messiah than overtaking Rome.
I can almost guarantee that the disciples had repeatedly asked Jesus when the kingdom would come. When would He build His army and overthrow Herod and Rome? When would they be free of the taxes and subjugation of this Gentile rule and fully receive the blessing of Abraham?
The disciples had been asking and now Jesus would grant them what they asked. He would now speak freely to them. He would unseal and unroll truth before them that they just could not see. He would now attempt to open the eyes of their mind to understand…
Jesus opened His mouth and He said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The disciples could probably look out over the crowd and see a lot of poor desperate people. They had poverty staring them in the face and screaming at them for help. They also had men, I am sure, standing proud, with robes held tight, at a distance so as not to be touched and made ceremonially unclean by certain peoples in the crowd.
But Jesus didn’t say blessed are the poor. No, He said “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
The word “poor” in this verse in the Greek is ptóchos and it means deeply destitute, completely lacking resources, to be thoroughly frightened, to cower down or hide oneself for fear; hence, properly, one who slinks and crouches), often involving the idea of roving about in wretchedness. In classical Greek from Homer down it means reduced to beggary, begging, mendicant, asking alms.
And this depth of poverty that Jesus says is blessed is that of the spirit.
You see a person can be utterly destitute of earthly possessions and even physical ability, yet still never recognize the poverty of their spirit just as easily as a rich religious man can be blinded to the depth of his spiritual destitution by his self-righteousness and earthly wealth. Jesus wanted to make sure the disciples caught this truth because the kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit alone.
The next blessing made by the great Teacher,”Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” can be seen as a direct result of realizing the depravity of our spirit. Beloved if there is no mourning there has never truly been a realization of the poverty of our spirit. If there is no mourning there has indeed never been a moment of repentance.
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…
Confession is nice, it might even make us feel better about ourselves. It might relieve us of our guilt for a time, but confession is not repentance. No repentance. No entrance. The cry of Jesus is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand“
The word “mourn” in the Greek in this verse is pentheó and it means to properly, grieve over a death; (figuratively) to grieve over a personal hope (relationship) that dies, i.e. comes to divine closure. It refers to “manifested grief” –so severe it takes possession of a person and cannot be hid.
Those that realize the poverty of their spirit cannot help but mourn because the thought that they in themselves might be able to please God comes to a divine closure. All personal hope in themselves dies and they realize they have no relationship with God and they realize it is there own fault. The disclosure of the magnitude of their sin and the truth that in no way do they lack the resources to attain salvation hits like a brick and there is nothing left but to mourn.
I remember the moment well.
First of all let me say that I remember the moment that I believed that Jesus was the Son of God. I was a child when I believed that I was a sinner and I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sin and rose from the grave on the third day to never die again. I believed.
I also remember that in that belief, as I grew older, I could take Him or leave Him as He fit my need for the moment. I recall living like hell on Saturday and sitting in church on Sunday and feeling only a little discomfort over my actions, not enough to actually change them. Oh I hated getting caught. I hated the consequences that came with my actions. However, I could drown that easily enough.
Then eventually, finally, I began to carry a great enough guilt that I really tried to act right. In that really trying, I realized that I couldn’t. I just flat out couldn’t. It was at that moment that I realized that I was powerless. That I was bankrupt. That I was just flat out wretched and I truly began to mourn my condition. It was in this mourning that I picked up my Bible in desperation and asked God to please speak to me if He could forgive me… and He took me to Psalm 25… and I knew that He could… and He began drawing me in with His cords of love.
It was in my mourning that I was comforted.
And it was in my comfort that I cried out and begged God to never let me forget how I felt in my poverty and in my mourning because I never, NEVER, wanted to find myself that far away from Him ever again. I did not EVER again want to be seduced and deceived by the lies of Satan and find myself in the depths of that pit. Apart from mourning, real mourning, it’s easy to forget.
He has been faithful.
It is very easy for us to look at the Pharisees in Scripture and say, “Oh I am so glad I am not a Pharisee!” (Does this sound a little familiar? Maybe kind of like Luke 18:11) It’s very easy for us to get comfortable in our Christian bubble and forget that dead men have no power to not sin. It’s very easy to find ourselves standing with our robes tightly held, at a distance… forgetting where we came from… where we were when He saved a wretch like me.
But beloved, when we remember where we came from, then we stay crouched down… and when we stay crouched down we can be used by God to speak the truth of the gospel to others so that in His Light they too might be able to see the poverty of their own spirit and be able to mourn the depth of their own depravity so that the kingdom can also be theirs.
Precious one, do you mourn your sin and the sin of others or do you justify your own and look with disgust on the sins of others? Whether we be earthly poor, afflicted, and addicted or earthly rich, educated, and religious… apart from a beggar’s heart we will have no part of His kingdom.
Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”