Poor in Spirit
Happy New Year!!
You know what that means! New year, new yearly intensive Bible study! Are you ready?
This year, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, Inc. will be examining Jesus’ epic Sermon on the Mount. For three chapters Jesus imparted His wisdom to the crowd that had gathered to Him on the side of the mountain. The book of Matthew, which records the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7, does not record the specific mountainside upon which Jesus preached. Tradition, however, has passed down that the mountain was outside the town of Capernaum, a fishing village on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus began His ministry. Today, the mountain is called “The Mount of Beatitudes.”
Many would not consider it a large mountain, but it overlooked the Sea of Galilee and offers a magnificent setting for Jesus’s first sermon. Jesus started with the Beatitudes before offering teachings on many different topics, scattering parables within His teachings. Throughout 2023, we are going to take an in-depth look at these teachings, focusing on a new section every other week. We hope you will join us! And let’s get started!
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:1-3, NIV)
Often, the word poor is equated with lacking, in this case, lacking in spirit. But that doesn’t make sense in the context of this verse. Why would Jesus say those who are lacking spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven? The late Reverend Billy Graham was once asked this exact question. His response? “We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant.”*
Jesus is calling upon those listening to humble themselves before God. We are all spiritually bankrupt. None of us are worthy to stand before the exalted God. And there is nothing we can do on our own to make ourselves worthy before Him. We must recognize our own unworthiness before we can accept Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.
When we are humble in spirit, we recognize that we are not worthy to stand before the majestic God. We cannot be filled with pride, thinking the work we do is enough to assure our place in heaven. When we humble ourselves before God, we recognize our own unworthiness. Then we can open our hearts up to accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Only then will we be permitted to stand before God for all eternity.
Jesus is calling us to be totally dependent on Him. He is entreating us to acknowledge, contrary to the world, our need for Him. Those who recognized this need are blessed, for they can rejoice that they have a relationship with God. They can rejoice that in their time of need they can call upon the Lord, for He is with us always. Above all, the poor in spirit, the humble in spirit, can rejoice because we have been blessed with the salvation of Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice cleansed us of our sins, allowing us to enter the kingdom of heaven.
*Taken from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website
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