“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:1-3 NLT
We are pressed by life and circumstances continually to live for the here and now. We are challenged to embrace the moment and to forget about anything that comes later. Yet, Jesus teaches us the very opposite. He calls us to see beyond our moments and into a completely different realm. The realm of Kingdom Living.
Responding to this call to embrace the Kingdom will mean that we must live upside down in the present world. Many will not understand the choice to live larger than the moment. However, it is only in the embracing of this Kingdom Life that we can truly live.
Here in Matthew, Jesus has just come through one of the most excruciating tests upon his life up to this moment. He has walked through forty days of fasting and under the direction of the Holy Spirit has been called to face a horrible assault from the enemy. In this time of testing, the enemy is relentless and challenges every place in him that can be tested, but Jesus comes through victorious.
From this place of surrender to the Father’s will, Jesus is able to walk out of that wilderness & begin his earthly ministry. He calls his disciples, begins to be used in signs and wonders, and takes whatever moment he can to deposit the Truth of the Kingdom into his followers.
So, here in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is beginning to teach them the characteristics of Kingdom Living. He is revealing through the sermon on the mount that the life that they have known is in direct opposition to the life that they are being called to live. He has placed this same call upon us.
Let’s begin with Matthew 5:3. Blessed are the poor in spirit for they get to enter in to Kingdom Living. The word blessed in the greek speaks of the happiness of life that goes beyond care and work, it is the life that is envied by onlookers. Poor in Spirit refers to the destitute and beggarly of spirit. The person who recognizes their own insufficiency. The person who is destitute of their own power or resources. This person is actually in the best place. They know they need God, but not only to they need God, they get to experience Him.
We can all look at the teaching of Jesus wonder what this looks like in our culture today, but humanity is humanity. Time may pass and we can see changes in culture, but mankind is still mankind. Being poor in spirit requires that I recognize that true richness is found in my destitution. True kingdom living is understood only to the beggar. Why is that, you might wonder? We spend our lives trying to be strong, wealthy, and together. We want all the things that can “satisfy” a longing within us to be accepted and deemed worthy of friends, or worthy of envy. Yet, the way we truly become strong, and wealthy is not through the means that we so often embrace. To be strong in the Kingdom, I must recognize my weakness. To be rich, I must recognize my poverty. To be put into a place where my deepest longings can be satisfied means to embrace a Kingdom that is not of this world. It means that I need to let go of this world and its philosophies and be willing to adopt the teaching of God’s Kingdom.
The beggar knows hunger, the destitute knows lack, the poor know what life is without their basic needs met. How does the Kingdom Living fit in here? I can only know how truly desperate I need God when I understand how empty I really am without him.
The call of the world is to fill my life with everything that would “temporarily satisfy,” but those things are intended to deceive. Their sole purpose is to get us to live for the things of the world, and to miss the call of Kingdom Living. If I fill my life with “stuff,” I won’t know my hunger, my lack, or my destitution, but I also won’t know the joy of living for another Kingdom.
This simple verse is a challenge & a call. It is a challenge to evaluate whether I am willing to become poor in spirit. It is a call to leave this world that I might enter through the spirit into a Kingdom not of this world. Yet, if I do, I get to bring that Kingdom to this world. What a privilege.
In conclusion, the man or woman who embraces the life of surrender, the life of being poor in spirit, that person is the happy man or woman. That person is blessed.