“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus begins his most important teaching message with these words. Therefore they may be pretty important. This is the first statement made in a short eight statement “Blessed are” teaching at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in the book of Matthew (with a shorter version in Luke).
These eight statements are the heart of everything Jesus says and does during his three year ministry, death, resurrection, and direction for his disciples and followers on through the ages. It seems to me that we need to understand what Jesus is saying in these eight statements, so we can apply them to our own lives and our service and outreach to others.
Let’s begin then shall we?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The phrase, “Blessed are…” is used in each of the eight statements Jesus makes. If we translate it from the Aramaic language in which Jesus spoke , the translation would read, “O the blessedness of the…” In this case, “O the blessedness of the poor in spirit!” In all actuality, what Jesus said was an exclamation not a statement. This immediately changes how we read the Beatitudes. Jesus is not speaking about things we hope for, or states of being that promise bliss. Not at all, these are congratulation exclamations on what is. Jesus is essentially saying that the “blessedness” is not something believers can hope for, but rather what is theirs in the here and now. (For certain, there will be an even greater fulfillment of these when Christ comes again, but the kingdom of heaven living is available to us right now.) This is something Jesus preached in so many different ways. We would be well advised to grasp the importance of this, which is why I believe Jesus started his first major teaching with these eight statements.
It must be noted that the translations we read are taken from the Greek translation in which the New Testament was primarily written. The Greek used the word makarios, which they used to describe gods, in other words they are attributing a god-like joy to try and grasp the fullness of the blessing of joy, and the certainty of it.
“Makarios, then, describes that joy which has its secret within itself, that joy which is serene and untouchable, and self-contained, that joy which is completely independent of all the chances and changes in life…..The Christian blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable. ‘No on’, said Jesus, ‘will take your joy from you’ (John 16:22). The beatitudes speak of that joy which seeks us through our pain, that joy which sorrow and loss, and pain and grief, are powerless to touch, that joy which shines through tears, and which nothing in life or death can take away.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol.1, 103)
Do you have such a joy? Would you like such a joy? There is nothing like it, that I can tell you. Come, Jesus calls you. Come to the fountain of living water only he can provide.
Come back and read more as we work our way through the beatitudes and glean the greatness of the life we have, or can have, through Jesus Christ.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)