Poor in spirit: ‘No matter what state you are in... Jesus is the answer to discovering what life is all about!’ *Photo supplied
Poor in spirit: ‘No matter what state you are in... Jesus is the answer to discovering what life is all about!’ *Photo supplied

Last week we were standing on the ‘dock’ of God’s Word, studying its surface and getting ready to take the plunge. Whether we’re diving off a dock into the sea or reading God’s Word, at some point we just have to make the leap and jump in…it isn’t until we get into the ‘water’ that we can really enjoy it.

If we only look at it, talk about it, take mental pictures of it, but don’t jump in, we will never know how powerful God’s Word is.

Jesus begins His address to the crowd sitting on the mountainside in Matthew 5 by giving the qualifications required — or the resumé one must possess — to be a part of God’s kingdom. As we read Matthew 5:3-10 let’s seek to have the Holy Spirit, who is our teacher, to understand truth and makes it clear in our hearts….

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s evaluate the words and phrases that Jesus uses to teach who will be blessed and accepted into this kingdom so we understand the type of people God looks to include.

I will seek to accurately paraphrase in modern terms. Jesus says He wants people who are poor in

spirit — the depressed; who mourn — the heartbroken; the meek — people whose goodness is unappreciated, goes unnoticed, and are often taken advantage of; who hunger and thirst for righteousness — those who desire to do what’s right, but may not measure up and are afraid to fail; merciful — having a compassionate heart; pure in heart — having a desire to be genuine and real; peacemakers — those sickened by violence who advocate getting along; persecuted because of righteousness — taking slams for doing the right thing. 

These qualifications are encouraging, exciting — and unexpected!

As we examine the biblical context of this message we need to remember that during Jesus’ time the teachers of the law made it difficult for people to have a relationship with God.

While the teachers were to point people to the Lord, they pushed them away instead.

Jesus often referenced how religious people made it difficult for ordinary people to love God and have a passionate relationship with Him.

He warned His disciples of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the two main religious groups of Jesus’ time and whom He dubbed

“hypocrites”. Jesus said the groups’ inaccuracies filled their teachings of the law the way yeast permeates dough, inflating the bread with pockets of air.

I hear people say they don’t want to come to Jesus because there are so many hypocrites in the church.

Does this mean that we should not live for God? Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? Ironically, no one hated religious hypocrites more than Jesus! Here’s a sampling from Matthew 23 of how Jesus describes them: …they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 

He tells them: “… You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

He also told them: “…on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Jesus’ message in Matthew 5:3-10 is shocking.

Until this point religious teachers discouraged people by preaching the difficulty of living for God — they needed certain qualifications or birthrights, and had to follow picky rules and regulations.

But Jesus said if you are depressed, stressed out, discouraged, broken hearted, want to do what’s right but can’t seem to get it done in your own strength; if you desire peace in your family and on your streets, or if people are taking advantage of you or you are still suffering for doing the right thing… then the kingdom of God is for you!

Jesus is not looking for people who are healthy in their own self-righteous eyes; He is looking for genuine people who know they are spiritually sick and need a Saviour.

If you fit into this category the kingdom of heaven is yours by simply accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.

He is the One who died for you and rose again, and if you trust in Him you can have the free gift of eternal life. Why not jump in and begin your kingdom living today!