Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
When Jesus began teaching publicly, there was one question that was in the mind of everyone: Jesus, how does your teaching differ from what we’ve been taught? This is the question for every one of us today, no matter your cultural or religious background. Jesus sets out to answer this question in his first seminar. It’s recorded in Matthew 5-7. I’ve spent most of my life studying Jesus’ teachings contained in these three chapters. This Jesus manifesto is also a Kingdom manifesto at its best!
It all begins with the first of 8 snapshots: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” You are blessed if you have this quality of being poor in spirit. The term “poor in spirit” is a word that means that you must beg in order to live. You are that desperate! It’s having a right evaluation of yourself before God. He’s God and self-sufficient and I am not! It’s an expression of desperation without Him and vital dependence upon Him.
Jesus is speaking to a massive group of people who have been taught by some of the most haughty men who have spent their lives outlining what it means to be right or righteous before God and that system is really a performance system of attempting some level of perfection. Jesus begins at the very opposite end of the spectrum. Righteousness begins when you understand your total need for God-your spiritual poverty!
All of life begins right at this point. Possessing a right evaluation of yourself before self, God, and others is true humility-the exact opposite of the blindness of pride.
What I’ve learned is that it is through the pain of the miserable failures that I’ve grown the most. In the midst of that pain I have learned vital truths about me, God, and the others in my life. We are all broken and spiritually bankrupt! One of our main addictions is that we are stuck on ourselves-our self-centeredness-the big “I” for everything to revolve around.
NOTE ONE MORE THING: Those who are poor in spirit are the ones who will receive the kingdom of heaven. Only two of the 8 snapshots reference the Kingdom-the first and the last. The Kingdom belongs to those who know and admit their need for God. It all starts here. You see, it’s only when you come to the end of yourself (poor in spirit) that you finally realize that God is enough. So, reaffirm your poverty without God and you will become richer than you ever imagined.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”