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Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
Sermon on the Mount
(See also commentary on
How are the poor in spirit blessed?
How Can One Enter
the Kingdom of Heaven?
Abbreviation for righteousness
-R = Unrighteousness
Beatitude: this word for "blessing" is not found in the Bible but
is derived from the Latin word beatus or blessed
of the KING
Scripture (His Royal lineage in Mt 1:1ff, His royalty acknowledged by Magi
= "King of the Jews", Mt 2:2, Matthew's repeated emphasis on Jesus'
fulfillment of Messianic prophecy = Mt 1:23, Mt 2:6, 2:15, Mt 2:18, Mt 2:23,
Mt 3:3, Mt 4:15-16), heralded and baptized by John the
Baptist (Mt 3:2, Isa 40:3, Mt 3:13-17), anointed by the Spirit (Mt
3:16), praised by the Father (Mt 3:17), and tested by the
adversary (Mt 4:1-11), the King had come to proclaim the good news of His
Kingdom (Mt 4:17-25). However, He disappointed the expectations of many
people both then and now.
the context? What message had John and Jesus preached to the people (Mt
Repent for the
Kingdom of Heaven is at hand
The Jews were expecting a King but
not like this King Whose radical opening declaration was you need to
change the way you think.
What (in the context of the Sermon on the Mount) did the Jews need to change their thinking about?
Jesus' message was...
"You need to
change the way you think about righteousness, specifically the
+R necessary to enter My Kingdom."
did Jesus put this in perspective (Mt 5:20)?
He warned them that unless their
righteous surpassed (definition)
that of the scribes and Pharisees they would not enter the Kingdom of
righteous did the people think the Pharisees were?
Extremely, even supremely +R - they were the
"religious" elite and the most +R of all. Yet Jesus the King
declares that +R that assures entrance into His Kingdom must far exceed
the +R of the Pharisees.
they demonstrate that their change in thinking (repentance) was genuine
They needed to
bring forth fruit (a changed behavior in keeping with Jesus' teachings)
And yet all the Jews knew about was
the +R of the Pharisees.
is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands,
all that He
approves, all that He provides (through Christ).
Who do the beatitudes
To all believers - for all will enter
the Kingdom of Heaven, all will receive comfort, mercy, see God, be
What is the King's
repeated promise which riveted His audience?
not how you feel but who you are as
a result of divine favor. (note)
Note that a number of Bible
translations use the word "happy" instead of "blessed" The problem is that
happy is derived from hap which means luck or
chance. Hap in turn is from an Old Norse word "happ"
which means "good luck"! Thus ultimately "happy" depends on what happens!
And that is not the Biblical meaning of "blessed" as used in the context
of the Beatitudes.
Blessed is not a feeling but the state of being marked by
fullness from God, It means being fully satisfied no matter the
circumstances. It is one who is spiritually prosperous independent of circumstances or
feelings. One can be "makarios" and yet be in miserable circumstances.
So when Jesus says "blessed
are you" does not mean "untroubled are you" or "healthy are you"
or "admired are you" or "financially prosperous are you." It means
"between you and God all is well." You are deeply secure, profoundly
content, happy in God - even if you are weeping over the pain of a struck
body, a perplexed mind, or a heartbreaking relationship.
NB: Like a good preacher,
Jesus opens with the positives and closes with a call to have a change of
thinking based upon what He has taught (Mt 7:13-27)
Now let's look at "Poor"
in Mt 5:3 - Is Jesus referring to one who is
What is the immediate context?
Jesus refers to poverty of one's spirit so He is not referring to
financially poverty. (Note)
What does the Greek word
for "poor" mean?
Poor (ptochos) is from root = crouch > beggar, destitute, helpless
in spirit is the opposite of
Proud in spirit
It is to know that you have nothing to offer
This word (ptochos)
focuses on a state of dependence. Thus "the poor in spirit" are those who
have learned to be completely dependent on God for everything! Have you?
Most of us are in a some stage of learning this truth, a truth which will
not be fully consummated until we pass from this life to glorified state
of the next
The way Up
How does the
first beatitude contrast with the philosophy of the world?
Why are they
considered blessed in Mt 5:3?
What was the
promised to the poor in spirit?
Theirs is the
kingdom of heaven (theirs is the
"King" of heaven) (Note)
How does an understanding
of the Greek tense help one determine when the poor in spirit receive "the
verb "is" =
present tense =
which means the Kingdom of heaven is ours now.
When do the "poor in
spirit" inherit the
Kingdom of Heaven
...is it just present or is it also future?
Remember that anywhere the
King is present and reigning as Lord, His Kingdom is also present. Today
it is primarily a spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of His loyal subjects but one day
future the Kingdom will be manifest by His literal reign on earth from
Jerusalem with His loyal subjects reigning with Him! (see
Was the SOM given as the
way of salvation
or as the way of
life for true
children of the King?
Clearly the latter.
The Beatitudes do not show a man how to be saved, but rather describe the
ideal characteristics of one who has been saved.
In fact as pastor Kent
Hughes states "The Beatitudes are not the gospel because they do not
explicitly explain Christ's atoning death and resurrection and how one may
receive him. But they are preparatory to the gospel.
The Beatitudes are
preparatory in the sense that they slay us so that we may live. They hold
us up against God's standards for the kingdom so that we can see our need
and fly to him. They cut through the delusions of formula Christianity and
expose the shallowness of evangelicals who can give all the "right"
answers but do not know Christ." (Sermon on the Mount)
What is God's response to those who are
poor in spirit (in the following verses)? How are they blessed in the
He is near the brokenhearted, saves those who are crushed in spirit
(Context: David's sins
of adultery & murder)
Broken spirit = sacrifice to God
God will not despise (look down upon with contempt) the broken and contrite heart
He dwells with the contrite & lowly of spirit >
revive spirit of the lowly
& contrite (bruised with sorrow for sin)
Dwelling place He desires is heart of humble & contrite - one who trembles
at His word. (cf Isa 66:5, Pr 28:14, Ps119:161 Ezra 9:4, 10:3) (See
In sum God "BLESSES"
the poor in spirit by...
Being near them (comfort)
Not despising them
Dwelling with them
Dwelling in a humble, lowly heart that trembles at His Word
What's another way to
which parallels the "poor in spirit"?
Who is the
directed at? (Another
discussion of parable)
who trusted in self that they were
+R (the "Self +R")
Viewed others with contempt (looked down upon, scorned others) (cf Mt
Who were the 2 participants in
this parable? Lk 18:10
Pharisee & Tax collector
chose a tax-gatherer to compare with a Pharisee?
Despicable, hated by the Jews even more
than they hated the Romans (note)
Where and what are
What did the Pharisee do? (Lk 18:11-12) (cf Mt 6:1, 5)
Thankful he was not like others (unjust
= unrighteous - talk about hypocrisy!), even this tax collector
Boasted in his fasting & paying of
tithes (his "religious resume"!)
How does the tax-collector contrast?
Unwilling to lift eyes,
beating breast (mourning over his sin)
Crying "God be
to me a
sinner" (Literally "God be propitious [related
noun] to me -- the
J Vernon McGee paraphrases it "O God I'm a poor tax
collector. I have no access to that mercy seat yonder in the Holy of
holies. Oh, if you could only make a mercy seat for me! I want to come!"
Who was justified or declared +R according to Jesus?
The despised tax collector!
(NB: Justified =
declared righteous = "past tense salvation" - see study on
Three Tenses of Salvation)
How did Jesus explain?
He who exalts himself shall be humbled (in this life or the one to come)
He who humbles himself > exalted
Humble pictures one made low
How does this
parallel "poor in spirit" in Mt 5:3?
Crouched low in spirit
What did the
Pharisee need to do?
He needed to have a change in thinking -
from trusting in himself to understanding that before God in
His Temple speaking with Him, he was but a beggar, a pauper in spirit, and
that he had nothing to offer God in regard to what would please
The unrepentant and
unconverted cannot give the heavenly King the glory He deserves, do not
belong to the heavenly King, and are unfit for His heavenly kingdom.
Note Charles Wesley's words
that speak of the sinner's poverty of spirit...
Lover of My Soul
(note highlighted phrases)
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.
Thou, O Christ, art all I
want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace. (Play)
Don Stewart said, "People who travel beyond self-sufficiency to divine
dependency must go through the swamp of personal emptiness."
`Blessed are the poor in
Blessed is the man who has an
utter sense of his own abject destitution in the sight of God, the man who
feels not simply unsatisfactory, but who can only say, God be merciful to
me, a sinner.
Blessed is the man who feels
this sense of destitution and who has then put his utter and complete
trust in Jesus Christ..
Blessed is the man who is
conscious of a desperate need and who is utterly certain that in Christ,
and in Christ alone, that need can be supplied.
"Theirs is the Kingdom of
And theirs is also the King of
that Kingdom Whose Name is Jesus, Jehovah saves. In the King Jesus are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In a true knowledge of
Him is everything necessary for life and godliness. In short, in Christ,
the King, spiritual beggars are made infinitely in every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places, in short, fully satisfied independent of
all circumstances (blessed) now and forever! Amen.
How much +R is needed?
Mt 5:20 > Mt 5:48
How does one obtain such an impossible standard of perfect +R?
What does -R equate with?
(cf Mt 3:7)
What reward for -R? (contrast reward of +R)
Wrath of God
Shall not inherit Kingdom of God
Kingdom of Heaven for +R
How does man stack up regarding
the +R God demands?
None are +R
No not one
All fall short of the glory of God
(cf Mt 5:48)
In my flesh there dwells no good thing
(cf Ro 5:12-note)
What is the basic understanding every man must arrive at?
Their need for a God kind of +R
(cf poor in spirit)
This necessitates a change in thinking (repentance)
(for context see Mk 2:15-17; Lk 5:29, 30, 31, 32)
How is this illustrated by Jesus in
Mt 9:10-13? What's the setting? the audience? the question by the
Note "tax gatherers and sinners" =
former were despised even more than the Romans. "Sinners" was a word Jews
used for Gentiles (see Gal 3:15)
Not healthy ("+R")
who need doctor but sick ("sinner" cf Mt 1:3-5)
I did not come to
call the +R but sinners
God receives the sinner (sin sick,
needy) and refuses the self +R
The self righteous, religious
Pharisees did not think they were sinners (spiritually sick) so they would
never have sought out the Lord (the Great Physician) and confessed their
spiritual bankruptcy - the paradox is that the despised tax collectors and
vile sinners were willing to acknowledge their spiritual poverty (cf Mt
5:3), and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven through the small gate (Mt
What did the
Pharisee and in fact every "tax collector and sinner" need to do?
Recognize our wretched (miserable, distressed) state and cry out "Have
mercy on me a sinner".
(cf Rev 3:17
What did Paul recognize about
He was the foremost of sinners
but these are who Jesus came
into the world to save (cf Mt 1:21)
How does this parallel Mt 5:3?
What did Paul continue to recognize even in his later years of ministry?
His poverty of spirit, his spiritual
bankruptcy - his continual need for and dependency upon Christ's provision
(Note how Jesus walked as a Man in Lk 4:14-16)
How did the King address this need in His first recorded teaching in the
Synagogue in Nazareth?
Spirit of God upon
Anointed to preach gospel to the poor (especially those poor in spirit,
those who recognized their spiritual poverty and were willing to accept
His free gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven)
What was the problem
with the religious man (Jew)?
Zeal w/o knowledge = seeking to
establish their own +R
Why is Christ
He is the end of the Law - in Him the purpose it was designed to
accomplish is fulfilled
How did Paul address working for +R?
Faith reckoned as +R
How does this parallel Mt 7:13-14?
Change your thinking
Enter through the narrow gate of the
King, Christ Jesus, the narrow way that leads to life in the Kingdom of
enter the gate the self +R Pharisees entered, for that broad way leads to
destruction for the many who enter by it.
What does God provide for
those entering the small gate, the narrow way
God made Him Who knew no sin to be on
our behalf that we might become the +R of God in Him, in
Christ (cf 1Co 1:30, Phil 3:9)
Now, who fulfills the demands of the Law?
Those who walk (live not perfectly but
as a habit of their life =
according to the Spirit (cf Eph , not according to the
Ryrie commenting on Ro 8:4 writes that..."The contrast
here is between an unregenerate life dominated by the flesh (sinful
nature within) and one controlled by the Holy Spirit."
It follows that the
"blessed" child of God will be
marked by a continual awareness of our spiritual poverty (flesh) and of
our absolute dependence upon God's Spirit. (cf Gal 5:16-17, 25, Ro
8:12-14, Ro 6:12-13, 13:12-14, 2Cor 7:1, Col 3:5-10, 1Pe 1:14, 2:11, 1Jo
“We say that we
depend on the Holy Spirit but actually we are so wired up with our own
devices that if the fire does not fall from heaven, we can turn on a
switch and produce false fire of our own.” (Vance
I like the story of the
young Scottish minister who walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his
first sermon. He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was
confident of himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer
he preached, the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not
in the wind.” He finished his message quickly and came down from the
pulpit with his head bowed, his pride now gone. Afterward, one of the
members said to him, “If you had gone into the pulpit the way you
came down, you might have come down from the pulpit the way you went up.”
How should he have gone up? (cf "poor in spirit" Mt 5:3)
Blessed are the spiritual paupers,
the spiritually empty, the spiritually bankrupt who cringe in a corner
and cry out to God for mercy. They are the happy ones. Why? Because they
are the only ones who tap the real resource for happiness. They are the
only ones who ever know God. Theirs is the kingdom—then and there, here
and now. Hallelujah!
receives the blessing in Mt 5:4
Those who mourn
Note that the verb
mourn is in the
which speaks of a habitual attitude of mourning or mourning as one's
Jesus' declaration is
another paradox (as is true of all of the Beatitudes).
(G K Chesterton defined a paradox as a "truth
standing on its head calling for attention"). Here's the divine
"Happy are the sad"
Thus as with the
first Beatitude, this one also is not a natural trait of men but refers to
a spiritual truth a natural man cannot understood and deems to be utter
foolishness! (1Co 2:12, 13, 14)
Note that Jesus does
not say "Blessed are those that 'moan'!"
Nor does Jesus say...
"Blessed are grim,
What is the blessing?
Shall be comforted
Note that in Greek
the future tense is often used to mean certainty of
the action. In this case this tense does not restrict comfort only
to the future heavenly kingdom but promises real comfort to the one who
mourns, here and now.
What is the definition of the Greek
to grieve, to lament, to show sorrow. It was the strongest of several
Greek words that expressed grief or sorrow. It carries the idea of deep
inner agony, which may or may not be expressed by outward weeping,
wailing, or lament.
are "those who mourn" to mourn over? Does Jesus refer to
In the context Jesus is referring to one mourning over
sin (personal, in the church, in a country)
not mean..."Blessed are those who are mourning over the difficulties of
do the first two beatitudes have or are they merely random statements by
When one sees his or her spiritual poverty and helplessness, this state
leads in turn to a condition of mourning as we become aware of our sin
(and certainly the Spirit is active in both opening our eyes to our
spiritual poverty and of convicting us of sin)
What was the setting?
Jesus was invited to dine
with a Pharisee (probably not a friendly invitation)
Who "crashed" the party?
A woman, a sinner
What did she do and why?
Wept, wet and wiped His feet
with her hair
Kissed His feet
Anointed His feet with perfume
She was mourning and weeping over her sins which were many
scene of this religious Pharisee reclining as was the custom across from
Jesus, watching this woman he knew to have a bad reputation.
If Jesus was a
prophet he should have known she was a sinner
The greater the debt
forgiven the greater the love - Like the woman and totally unlike the
Pharisee who did not think himself a sinner!
Jesus "comfort" the woman?
Salvation by faith
She was poor in spirit
and mourned over her sin.
She was blessed for she gained the Kingdom of Heaven and
What did Isaiah prophecy concerning the
When the King
returns, He will...
Comfort all who mourn
Grant those who mourn in Zion (Jerusalem)
(see in depth
for who these are)
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. (Note)
What does this
passage teach about comfort in the future new heaven and new earth?
Wipe away every tear
No longer death
No longer mourning, crying or pain
God is making all things new
These words are faithful and true!
on October 18, 1740:
"In my morning devotions my soul was exceedingly melted, and bitterly
mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and vileness."
Read Jas 4:1-4 for the context = sin
What does God provide
that is greater than their sins (Ja 4:6)?
What is the general condition one must
meet to partake of His grace?
Humility (picture of one who is low)
God is opposed (arrays Himself against
like an army standing opposite a hostile force) to the proud
(literally one appearing above others - picture of one who is high)
"blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted" what is the
process of by which one receives God's grace?
1) Jas 4:7 Submit
2) Jas 4:7 Resist devil
3) Jas 4:8 Draw near God (His light will
expose your sin)
4) Jas 4:8 Cleanse hands (actions or deeds) and purify heart (motives) -
How? Confess & forsake sins (1Jn 7, 8, 9)
5) Jas 4:9 Be miserable (Mt 5:3)
Mourn & weep (Mt 5:4) (over your sins)
Laughter to mourning, Joy to gloom over
6) Ja 4:10 Humble self in His presence > Exalt (Comfort)
What was the problem in
the Corinthian church?
Arrogance & failure to mourn over overt immorality in the church members
The sin would spread like leaven
the church to do?
1) Deliver immoral man to Satan
to destroy his flesh, save spirit
2) Figuratively clean old leaven
3) Not associate with immoral
4) Not even eat (immoral, covet, idolater, reviler)
5) Judge those within
6) Remove wicked man
(cf Ps 119:136)
What does this
chapter teach about sin in country or community?
Jerusalem's inhabitants were to be destroyed except for those who sigh and
groan over sin
What happened to this group (Ezek 9:4)
A mark (Tau, that could be shaped like
a "cross" but it is probably coincidence) on forehead of those those
who mourn over sin - they would be "comforted" = spared of execution
The great characteristic of Jeremiah,
the Weeping Prophet, was that he wept for his people (Jer 9:1; 13:17).
Charles Wesley has put this beatitude
to music in one of the verses in his famous hymn
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
He speaks, and, listening to His
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe. (Play)
Have you ever admitted poverty of spirit, and entered thru the small gate
into the Kingdom of Heaven?
Do your live your Christian life with a Mt 5:3 sense of spiritual
bankruptcy and total dependence on the Spirit of the Living God?
When was last time I mourned or wept over my sin?
Or have I become insensitive to sin's effect on my heart and on the heart
Don't ever forget...
Sin will take you
farther than you ever thought you would stray.
Sin will keep you
longer than you ever thought you would stay.
Sin will cost you more
than you ever thought you would pay
The saddest thing in
life is not a sorrowing heart, but a heart that is incapable of grief over
sin, for it is without grace. Without poverty of spirit no one enters the
kingdom of God. Likewise, without its emotional counterpart - grief over
sin - no one receives the comfort of forgiveness and salvation.
If you have never sorrowed over sin in your life (not just its
consequences, but sin itself), then consider long and carefully whether
you really are a Christian. Genuine believers, those who are truly born
again, have mourned, and continue to mourn, over sin. For Christians,
mourning over sin is essential to spiritual health.
"As for you, son of man, groan with
breaking heart and bitter grief, groan in their sight."
Eccl 3:1,4 There is an appointed
time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A
time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
But encourage (come alongside, exhort,
comfort) one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today,"
lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:13)
Lord, let us not forget that the
heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed as
in the greatness of the Person sinned against. Give us all grace to make
it Lord God Almighty. Amen.
“Lord, let me weep
for nought but sin,
And after none but thee;
And then I would-oh, that I might-
A constant mourner be!”
(C H Spurgeon)
the nifty simple Bible Verse pop up
tool will make it easy to read every cross reference in this study
quickly, in context and in the Version you prefer (Note: Only KJV is
Sermon on the Mount
gospel of the kingdom...
At the beginning of His life, magi came
to Herod, asking where they could find the King of the Jews (Mt 2:2). At
the end of His life, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He
affirmed that He was (Mt 27:11-12), and Pilate sanctioned His crucifixion
on that basis (Mt 27:37). So beginning in Mt 4:17-25, the King declares
Foretold by Scripture (His Royal
lineage in Mt 1:1ff, His acknowledgement by the Magi as "King of the
Jews", Mt 2:2, Matthew's repeated emphasis on Jesus' fulfillment of
Messianic prophecy = Mt 1:23, Mt 2:6, 2:14, 19, Mt 2:18, Mt 2:23, Mt
4:15-16), heralded and baptized by John the Baptist (Mt 3:2, Isa
40:3, Mt 3:13-17), anointed by the Spirit (Mt 3:16), praised by the Father
(Mt 3:17), and tested by the adversary (Mt 4:1-11), the King had come to
establish His Kingdom. However, He disappointed the expectations of many
people both then and now.
When (the multitudes) came together,
one question was paramount in their minds:
“How can we enter Your Kingdom?
How righteous must we be to be saved?
Will our righteousness be sufficient to
admit us to Your Kingdom?”
They did not ask for proof that He was
Messiah; His miracles demonstrated that. They were concerned about the
righteousness demanded for entrance into His Kingdom. These people had
been brought up in Pharisaism. Pharisaism was based upon the Mosaic Law,
which was a divine revelation from God to Israel. But Pharisaism had
perverted that Law and reduced it to a system of external observances. The
Pharisees had conveniently codified the law into 365 prohibitions and 250
commandments. They taught the people that, if they observed these
things, they would be acceptable to God. They substituted the
traditions of men for the revelation of God; they trusted
external observances to give them a pure heart. The people, in their
religious background, had heard nothing of the truth of the Word of God
until they listened to John preach (Mt 3:2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12); all they had known was
the Pharisees’ perversion of it.
The only righteousness they had ever
been told about was the righteousness of the Pharisees.
So they came to Christ with this basic
“Will the righteousness of the
Pharisees in which we have been brought up bring us into Your Kingdom?
Will we be acceptable to God if we do
what we have been told to do and refrain from doing what we have been
forbidden to do?”
It was to this inquiring multitude that
our Lord addressed the Sermon on the Mount. To answer their question, our
Lord said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall
exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case
enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Then He proceeded to tell them what God
demands of those who would fellowship with Himself and be in His Kingdom:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect” (Mt 5:48). God’s standard for those who would be accepted of Him
is a perfection that equals His own. (Pentecost, J. D. Design for living:
Lessons in holiness from the Sermon on the mount. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel
Publications) (Bolding added)
The LORD is near to the broken hearted, and saves
those who are crushed in spirit. (cf Ps 147:3)
has the basic meaning of being or coming into the most near and intimate
proximity of the subject!
was used literally of things that were broken and figuratively as here
(and twice in Psalm 51:17 "broken spirit...broken...heart")
of one's "heart" or emotions.
The Greek word used
is a word (suntribo) which means literally to rub hard together and so to
crush completely, to beat to a pulp (maybe this is how you feel even as
you read this note...go back and read the promise in Ps 34:18); to break
in pieces and figuratively as used in this psalm of the mental and
emotional state in which one is deprived of strength, is heartbroken or is
in despair. This is the word used by Luke in Luke 4:18 (only in the KJV)
where Jesus says "He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted".
Pentecost comments that...
When the psalmist referred to a broken,
contrite heart, he did not mean a heart crushed because of bereavement,
but a heart that has come to the end of itself, which sees no help in
itself, and cries out to God for deliverance. (Pentecost, J. D. Design for
living: Lessons in holiness from the Sermon on the mount. Page 23. Grand
Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)
means to rescue, deliver, free one from danger. The root in Arabic is
"make wide" or "make sufficient'. Yasha describes that which is
wide and connotes freedom from distress and the ability to pursue one's
own objectives. Yasha may be used in everyday life free of
theological overtones, but generally in the OT has strong religious
meaning, for it was Yahweh Who wrought the deliverance. Thus He is known
as the "God of our salvation" (Ps 68:19ff). Although salvation could come
through a human agent, it is only because God empowers the agent.
The Greek word used for "saves"
sozo which has
the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. Additional nuances
include to protect, keep alive, preserve life, deliver, heal, be made
bruised, beaten to pieces, humbled.
The Greek word used for "crushed" in
is a word (tapeinos) which literally refers to that which is low (low
lying) and does rise from the ground. Figuratively means lowly, of no
degree, humble in spirit, poor, humiliated (in circumstances or
disposition). The psalmist says that such a one is saved (delivered from
danger, healed or cured or restored to health, made whole, preserved or
kept safe and sound)
C H Spurgeon commenting on
Psalm 34:18 writes...
The Lord is nigh unto them that are
of a broken heart. Near in friendship to accept and console. Broken
hearts think God far away, when He is really most near to them; their eyes
are held so that they see not their Best Friend.
And saveth such as be of a contrite
spirit. What a blessed token for good is a repentant, mourning heart!
(cf Mt 5:4) Just when the sinner condemns himself, the Lord graciously
absolves him. Salvation is linked with contrition. (Treasury of David)
F B Meyer comments on "the
LORD is nigh"...
You may not realize it, oh
brokenhearted sufferer, but the great Gardener passes by those who are
standing erect, to stoop over thee, beaten down by the storm and trailing
on the ground. He comes where He is most needed. (Gems from the Psalms)
Warren Wiersbe writes a
devotional note on this psalm entitled "Smashed Rainbows"
A little girl and her mother were walking
down a sidewalk after a rainstorm. Someone had spilled some automobile oil
on the pavement. Seeing that, the little girl said, "Mommy, look at all of
the smashed rainbows!"
Maybe your rainbows have been smashed, and you have a broken heart.
Perhaps you don't feel close to God because of your heartache. What can
you do to be near to Him? First, keep in mind that nearness is likeness.
"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart" (Psalm 34:18). The
more we are like God, the nearer we are to Him. How close can you get to
God? You can get as close to Him as you want. Draw near to Him, and He
will draw near to you. Remember that God knows the meaning of a broken
heart. Jesus Christ literally experienced one. He was "a man of sorrows
and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). Let your experiences make you more
like Jesus, and He will draw near to you.
Second, remember that God gives grace to the humble. "God resists the
proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). David also said, "A
broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise" (Ps.
Our Lord came "to heal the brokenhearted" (Luke 4:18). Do you have a
broken heart that needs healed? Here's the simple secret: Give the Lord
all the pieces, and He will heal you.
Everyone has experienced dashed hopes and smashed plans. Take comfort in
knowing that your Lord heals the broken heart. Are you getting over a
crushing experience? The Lord understands what you are going through. Draw
near to Him with a humble spirit and give Him the broken pieces of your
heart (Warren Wiersbe.
Prayer, Praise, and Promises).
The Greek word used for "contrite" in
is a word (tapeinos) which literally refers to that which is low (low
lying) and does rise from the ground. Figuratively means lowly, of no
degree, humble in spirit, poor, humiliated (in circumstances or
Warren Wiersbe writes a
devotional on this section entitle "Broken Things"...
Have you ever studied the broken things
in the Bible? A woman broke a vessel at the feet of Jesus and anointed Him
(Luke 7:36-50). Jesus took bread and broke it as a picture of His body
given for us (Mt 26:26, 1Cor 11:24). God uses broken things, and He starts
with broken hearts. This is what repentance is all about. God doesn't
listen to the lips. He doesn't measure a material sacrifice. He looks at
the heart and says, "If your heart is broken, then I can cleanse it."
When David sinned, he could have brought all kinds of sacrifices. But they
would not have pleased the Lord. God was waiting for the sacrifice of a
broken heart. That's why David said, "The sacrifices of God are a broken
spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise"
(Psalm 51:17). David's sins should have brought him condemnation and
death. He committed adultery, and he murdered a man. No sacrifice could be
found in God's sacrificial system for this kind of flagrant, rebellious,
deliberate sin. But David did not die. Even though no sacrifice was
available for his sin at the time, God looked down the corridors of time
and saw a cross where Jesus Christ would die for David's sin.
God looks at the heart, not the hand. He wants sincerity from the heart,
not religious routine. A broken heart is not remorse, nor is it regret. It
is repentance, a turning away from sin. It's telling God you hate sin, are
judging it and claiming his forgiveness. Bring to Him the sacrifice of a
contrite heart. (Warren Wiersbe.
Prayer, Praise, and Promises).
Spurgeon commenting on "a
broken and contrite heart O God Thou wilt not despise" writes...
A heart crushed is a fragrant heart.
Men condemn those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord
does not see as man sees. He despises what men esteem, and values that
which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent,
and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who
receives sinners. (Treasury of David)
Matthew Henry adds that...
Men despise that which is broken, but
God will not. He despised the sacrifice of torn and broken beasts, but he
will not despise that of a torn and broken heart. He will not overlook it;
he will not refuse or reject it; though it make God no satisfaction for
the wrong done him by sin, yet he does not despise it. The proud Pharisee
despised the broken-hearted publican, and he thought very meanly of
himself; but God did not despise him. More is implied than is expressed;
the great God overlooks heaven and earth, to look with favour upon a
broken and contrite heart, Isa. 66:1-2; Isa 57:15.
A Handbook on the Book of Psalms
The concept “humble” is sometimes
expressed idiomatically as “not making oneself to appear big,” or “having
a low heart,” or “one who speaks softly.” (Bratcher, R. G., &
Reyburn, W. D. A translator's handbook on the book of Psalms. Helps
for translators (Page 476). New York: United Bible Societies)
The Preacher's Commentary writes
All that David can offer to the Lord in
worship then is his shattered “spirit,” his “broken … heart,” that is, the
very center of his being, himself. Sin has “broken” him; judgment has
“broken” him. But even more than this, when we discover God’s mercy in His
incredible love for us in our sin—here is the final breaking. As our heart
sobs, the Lord puts His arms around us. When we see Jesus expelling
demons, forgiving sins, cleansing lepers, and hanging on the cross—then we
are finally “broken.” We are among those who are forgiven much and who
therefore love much (Luke 7:47). (Williams, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. Vol. 13:
The Preacher's Commentary Series, Thomas Nelson)
F B Meyer comments...
Thou desirest not
sacrifice.--Ceremonialism cannot free us from taint (Heb 9:9-16). God's
fire descends on broken hearts. (Psalms - Gems from the Psalms)
Tremble at My Word: To
“tremble at God’s word” (Isa 66:2, 5) means to reverentially fear and
respect what God says and to fear to disobey it so as not to displease Him
(Ps 119:120). The Jews experienced this reaction of trembling at God's
Word when Ezra exposed their sins (Ezra 9:4; 10:3), and the prophet
Habakkuk experienced it when he saw the vision of God’s judgment recorded
in (Hab 3:16). Saul of Tarsus trembled when he met the Lord (Acts 9:6).
However, King Jehoiakim did not tremble at the Word; he tried to destroy
it (Jer. 36), and that led to his destruction (Pr 13:13). Paul urged all
believers to “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
Dwight Pentecost notes how the
was controlled by pride and commended
himself to God and demanded that God accept him and his petition because
of what he was. Then he commended himself to God because of what he had
“I fast twice in the week, I give
tithes of all that I possess.”
He expected to be blessed of God
because of what he had done for God. What an example of the one with no
poverty of spirit! On the other hand, there cowered afar off a confessed
sinner who cried, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” “God, look upon me as
you look upon the mercy seat sprinkled with atoning blood.” This one
claimed nothing as to his person nor as to his righteousnesses. In his
spiritual poverty and destitution he cast himself wholely upon the grace
and mercy of God. Here was a man poor in spirit...A man’s only way of
access to God is to come to God and confess his own unrighteousness, his
own inability to meet the standards and requirements of God, and by faith
claim the blood of Christ, which covers his sin. As Toplady’s words in
“Rock of Ages” express it, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy
cross I cling.” Such a one—poor in spirit—is happy because he is blessed
of God. "(Pentecost, J. D. Design for living: Lessons in holiness from the
Sermon on the mount. Page 24. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)
“I did not come to call the
righteous, but sinners” (KJV "to repentance", cf Lk 5:32):
One of the most important statements ever recorded in the Bible. Jesus
came for those who know they have a terminal spiritual illness and who
have no trust or hope in themselves to be cured. God’s receiving the
sinner and refusing the righteous is central to the Christian faith.
Here are the prayers, confessions and
declarations of some of the men Jesus came for...
“Lord, save me from that wicked man,
“In youth, in middle age and now after
many battles, I find nothing in me but corruption.” (John Knox,
greatest preacher in the history of Scotland)
“I am fallen short of the glory of
God, my whole heart is altogether corrupt and abominable, and consequently
my whole life being an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” (John
Wesley, the great revival preacher)
“Vile and full of sin I am.” (Charles
Wesley, the great hymn writer)
“Oh, that such a wretch as I should
ever be tempted to think highly of himself. I am myself nothing but sin
and weakness, in whose flesh naturally dwells no good thing.” (Augustus
Toplady writer of “Rock of Ages”)
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful
man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8) (Peter on beholding Jesus' great power and
“It is a trustworthy statement,
deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Ti 1:15) (Paul summing up
the confession of every honest believer)
Although it is not a popular "tactic"
in many churches today, the Bible clearly teaches that
The first declaration of the gospel is
negative-that every man is sinful, separated from God, and condemned to
hell (cf with Jesus' opening words "poor in spirit"). A person will
not seek to be saved until he realizes he is lost. Therefore the first
step in proclaiming the gospel is to tell men of their lostness, and the
first step in receiving the gospel is to confess that lostness. A person
will not seek healing until he is convinced he is sick; he will not seek
life until he acknowledges he is dead. Conversion, then, occurs in one who
is willing to accept the death sentence and also the acquittal of God. The
man who does not recognize his condemnation to death has no hope for new
life. (MacArthur, J. Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press)
(all NT uses of telones "tax gatherer" Mat 5:46 Mat 5:47 Mat 9:10
Mat 9:11 Mat 10:3 Mat 11:19 Mat 18:17 Mat 21:31 Mat 21:32 Mark 2:15 Mark
2:16 Luke 3:12 Luke 5:27 Luke 5:29 Luke 5:30 Luke 7:29 Luke 7:34 Luke 15:1
Luke 18:10 Luke 18:11 Luke 18:13)
The noted Jewish scholar Alfred
Edersheim reports that a Jewish publicani was barred from the synagogue
and was forbidden to have any religious or social contact with his fellow
Jews. He was ranked with the unclean animals, which a devout Jew would not
so much as touch. He was in the class of swine, and because he was held to
be a traitor and a congenital liar, he was ranked with robbers and
murderers and was forbidden to give testimony in any Jewish court.
Edersheim states that there were two
categories of publicani. The first, whom the Jews called
general taxes, which included those on land and other property, those on
income, and those referred to as poll, or registration, taxes. The basic
land tax (the amount paid to Rome) was a tenth of one’s grain and a fifth
of one’s fruit and wine. Income tax amounted to one percent of one’s
earnings, and the amount of the poll tax varied.
The second type of tax collector was
called a mokhes, who collected a wide variety of use taxes-taxes similar
to our import duties, tollway fees, boat docking fees, business license
fees, and the like. The mokhes had almost unlimited latitude in their
taxing powers and could attach a tax to virtually any article or activity.
They could, for instance, levy a tax on a person’s boat, on the fish he
caught with it, and on the dock where he unloaded it. They could tax a
traveler’s donkey, his slaves and servants, and his goods. They had
authority to open private letters to see if a taxable business of some
sort might be related to the correspondence. There were two kinds of
mokhes. One kind, called the great mokhes, hired other men to collect
taxes for them and, by virtue of partial anonymity, protected at least
some of their reputation among their fellow countrymen. The other kind,
called small mokhes, did their own assessing and collecting and therefore
were in constant contact with members of the community as well as with all
travelers who passed their way. The gabbai were despised, the great
were more despised, and the small mokhes were despised most. Matthew was
obviously a small mokhes, because he himself was sitting in the tax office
as Jesus passed through the outskirts of Capernaum. t was to that man, the
most despised of the despicable, to whom Jesus said, Follow Me! (Mt 9:9,
cf Lk 5:28)... That simple call by Jesus was more than enough reason for
Matthew to turn his back on everything he was and possessed. Because of
his position as an agent of Rome, he knew that once he forsook his post he
would never be able to return to it. He knew the cost and willingly paid
it. Of all the disciples, Matthew doubtlessly made the greatest sacrifice
of material possessions; yet he himself makes no mention of it. He felt
with Paul that “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have
counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7).(MacArthur, J.
Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press)
Here is the entry on "publican"
(tax collector) from Smith's Bible Dictionary...
The class designated by this word in
the New Testament were employed as collectors of the Roman revenue. The
Roman senate farmed the vectigalia (direct taxes) and the
portorin (customs) to capitalists who undertook to pay a given sum
into the treasury (in publicum), and so received the name of
publicani . Contracts of this kind fell naturally into the hands of
the equites, as the richest class of Romans. They appointed
managers, under whom were the portitores, the actual custom-house
officers, who examined each bale of goods, exported or imported, assessed
its value more or less arbitrarily, wrote out the ticket, and enforced
payment. The latter were commonly natives of the province in which they
were stationed as being brought daily into contact with all classes of the
population. The name pubicani was used popularly, and in the New
Testament exclusively, of the portitores . The system was
essentially a vicious one. The portitores were encouraged in the
most vexatious or fraudulent exactions and a remedy was all but
impossible. They overcharged whenever they had an opportunity, (Luke
3:13) they brought false
charges of smuggling in the hope of extorting hush-money (Luke
19:8) they detained and
opened letters on mere suspicion. It was the basest of all livelihoods.
All this was enough to bring the class into ill favor everywhere. In Judea
and Galilee there were special circumstances of aggravation. The
employment brought out all the besetting vices of the Jewish character.
The strong feeling of many Jews as to the absolute unlawfulness of paying
tribute at all made matters worse. The scribes who discussed the question,
22:15) for the most part
answered it in the negative. In addition to their other faults,
accordingly, the publicans of the New Testament were regarded as traitors
and apostates, defiled by their frequent intercourse with the heathen,
willing tools of the oppressor. The class thus practically excommunicated
furnished some of the earliest disciples both of the Baptist and of our
Lord. The position of Zacchaeus as a "chief among the publicans," (Luke
19:2) implies a gradation of
some kind among the persons thus employed. (see
J Vernon McGee makes this story
very applicable to our modern world writing that...
The Pharisees did not believe in eating
with publicans and sinners. Many saints today still have the same idea. It
doesn’t hurt to invite sinners to dinner because they are the ones who
need to be reached for Christ. We need to have some contact with sinners.
Jesus is the Great Physician. He has come to heal mankind of their basic
problem, which is sin. This ought to be said to a lot of our little
Christian groups who have their banquets and “fellowship” meetings and do
not invite the unsaved. If the unsaved do come, the majority of the
Christians freeze them out anyway. May I say to you that I think some of
these so-called Christian groups are sinful in their very existence and in
the way they meet today. Matthew is at it again, quoting Hosea 6:6 from
the Old Testament. When Jesus said, “For I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance,” He could have included the
Pharisees, because they were sinners. In fact, all of us are included—“For
all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
(McGee, J. V. Thru the Bible Commentary Vol. 4, Page 53. Nashville: Thomas
Go and learn:
This phrase was commonly used in
rabbinic writings to rebuke those who did not know what they should have
known. Jesus used the very Scriptures the Pharisees’ held as their
authority and rebuked them for their ignorance of God’s true nature and of
their failure to follow His clear commandments. What Jesus was saying in
quoting Hosea 6:6 is that God's Word was calling the Pharisees to show
mercy and forgiveness, instead of a critical, condemning, judgmental
spirit. Ritual separated from righteousness has always been a sham and an
affront to God and the Pharisees were masters of such sham!
Ro 8:4 who do
not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Pentecost comments that...
Our Lord not only showed the way of
access to Himself, and the way of access into His kingdom ("poor in
spirit" Mt 5:3), but also He showed what will characterize one who in
poverty of spirit has come to claim God’s salvation. His life as a
child of God will be marked by that same complete dependence upon God,
moment by moment....
(Commenting on Romans 8:4) The man who
by the flesh seeks to please God claims he can do it himself. In pride he
seeks to please God. The only one who pleases God in his daily life is the
one who says,
“God, I can’t do it because the flesh
is corrupt; but I cast myself totally and completely upon the sustaining
strength of the Holy Spirit that he might live the life of Christ through
When Peter stepped out of the boat to
walk across the water to the Lord Jesus and began to sink, he cried out,
“Lord, help me.” He was poor in spirit. When Mary and Martha were
overcome with grief at the passing of their brother Lazarus and they sent
a message to Jesus Christ to come and help them, they evidenced they were
beggars in spirit. When you recognize your own helplessness and
cast yourself solely upon the grace of God and the Spirit of God, you are
renouncing spiritual pride and evidencing a poverty of spirit that
makes it possible for God to bestow blessing after blessing on your life.
What do you have to offer God? Nothing. What does God have to give you?
Everything. What makes God’s riches yours? A cry for help, a cry of
dependence, a confession of your own helplessness. (Ibid) (Bolding added)
Sinner was a term used by the Jews to describe Gentiles (cf
Gal. 2:15). Jesus used "sinners" to refer to all of fallen
mankind (Mt 9:13). Sinner is the name that denotes man’s
constant violation of God’s law. Men are sinners by nature (being born
into Adam's seed cf Ro 5:12). Jesus (Mt 1:21) came "to seek and save that
which was lost" (Lk 19:10).
It is interesting (and convicting) to
note when in this great Apostle's spiritual life, this statement
"sinners...among whom I am the foremost of all") was recorded. Guess
before you read on.
It was recorded near the end of his
APPROXIMATE DATE OF WRITING
"POVERTY OF SPIRIT"
1Cor 15:9 For I am the least
of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because
I persecuted the church of God.
Ep 3:8 To me, the very least
of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles
the unfathomable riches of Christ,
1Ti 1:15 It is a trustworthy
statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
This simple chronological record of Paul's spiritual life leads to the
(1) We may grow in grace as we grow older in the Lord, but we never
outgrow our need for acknowledgement of our spiritual bankruptcy outside
of Christ (cf John 15:5, Col 3:4, etc)
(2) The longer we walk with the Lord and the more He reveals Himself to us
(cf John 14:21), the greater will be the sense of the poverty of our flesh
in the light of His greatness and glory (cf John 3:30)
Mt 5:1 (see commentary notes on
Here is a quotable quote on the Sermon
on the Mount...
It has been said if you took all the
good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or
psychiatrist or counselor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down
to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this
great message by Jesus...The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes thought
of as Jesus' "Declaration of the Kingdom." The American
Revolutionaries had their Declaration of Independence. Karl Marx had his
Communist Manifesto. With this message, Jesus declares what His Kingdom is
all about. It presents a radically different agenda than what the nation
of Israel expected from the Messiah. It does not present the political or
material blessings of the Messiah's reign. Instead, it expresses the
spiritual implications of Jesus' rule in our lives. This great message
tells us how will we live when Jesus is our Lord. (Dave
Guzik) (Bolding added)
Mt 5:2 (see commentary notes on
Mt 5:3 (see commentary notes on
Poor in spirit -
Although most conservative evangelical commentaries favor Jesus' phrase as
pointing to spiritual and not financial poverty,
there are a few that favor it as reference to financial poverty. Although
proportionately it is fair to say that many more of those who are
financially poor are also poor in spirit when compared with their wealthy
counterparts (e.g., see
Mt 19:24, Mk 10:25, Lk 18:25), that by no means justifies the
interpretation that Jesus is here addressing only the financially
poor. In that regard, it is fascinating to see how inaccurate
has led some to make grossly inappropriate
as in the case of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (332-63) who is
reputed to have said with vicious irony that he wanted to confiscate
Christian's property so that they might all become poor and enter the
kingdom of heaven!
It is no mistake that “poor in spirit”
comes first. This is the first and fundamental quality of the spiritual
life. This is where discipleship begins. This is the key that unlocks the
door of heaven. (Ray Pritchard)
On a scale of 1 to 10, how
would we rate the condition of our spiritual life? Even though we may
desire to please the Lord, our efforts are so inadequate, our motives
often selfish, our faithfulness questionable. No matter how much we do,
we fall so far short!... On God's grading scale, we
all rate zero without the Perfect One. (Our Daily Bread)
explains why poor in spirit should be clearly distinguished
from poor materially or financially writing that...
The word commonly used for
ordinary poverty was penichros, and is used of the widow Jesus saw
giving an offering in the Temple. She had very little, but she did have
“two small copper coins” (Luke 21:2). She was poor but not a beggar.
One who is penichros poor has at least some meager resources. One who is
ptōchos poor, however, is completely dependent on others for sustenance.
He has absolutely no means of self-support.
Because of a similar statement
in Luke 6:20-
“Blessed are you who are
poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”-
some interpreters have
maintained that the beatitude of Matthew 5:3 teaches material poverty.
But sound hermeneutics (the interpretation of Scripture) requires
that, when two or more passages are similar but not exactly alike, the
clearer one explains the others, the more explicit clarifies the less
explicit. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we see that the
Matthew account is the more explicit. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual
poverty that corresponds to the material poverty of one who is ptōchos.
If Jesus were here advocating
material poverty He would have contradicted many other parts of His
Word-including the Sermon on the Mount itself (Mt 5:42)-that teach us
to give financial help to the poor. If Jesus was teaching the innate
blessedness of material poverty, then the task of Christians would be to
help make everyone, including themselves, penniless. Jesus did not teach
that material poverty is the path to spiritual prosperity.
Those who are materially poor do
have some advantages in spiritual matters by not having certain
distractions and temptations; and the materially rich have some
disadvantage by having certain distractions and temptations. But
material possessions have no necessary relationship to spiritual
blessings. Matthew makes clear that Jesus is here talking about the
condition of the spirit, not of the wallet. (MacArthur, J.
Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press) (Bolding added)
Poor in spirit
The way up is down!
It doesn't start by
measuring up. It starts by realizing that we don't measure up. We are
poverty stricken, helpless as a child, and sin-sick in need of a Great
Physician. (John Piper)
It means a complete absence of pride,
a complete absence of self-assurance and of self-reliance.
It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God.
It is nothing, then, that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do
It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come
face-to-face with God. (D Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Poverty of spirit
"is not a man's confession that he is by nature insignificant, or
personally without value, for that would be untrue. Instead, it is a
confession that he is sinful and rebellious and utterly without moral
virtues adequate to commend him to God. The poor in spirit recognize that
they have no spiritual "assets." They know they are spiritually bankrupt.
With the word poor, Jesus uses the more severe term for poverty. It
indicates someone who must beg for whatever they have or get. Poverty of
spirit cannot be artificially induced by self-hatred; it is brought about
by the Holy Spirit and our response to His working in our hearts. (see
John 16:8, 9, 10, 11, Acts 2:37, 16:29,30)" (Dave Guzik)
To be poor in spirit is not to lack
courage but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy. It confesses one's
unworthiness before God and utter dependence on him...All must begin by
confessing that by them selves they can achieve nothing....in the last
book of the canon, an established church must likewise recognize its
precarious position when it claims to be rich and fails to see its own
poverty (Rev 3:14-22). (Expositor's Bible Commentary)
In spiritual things,
poor in spirit is the opposite not of self-esteem but of spiritual pride.
It is the self-sufficiency that springs from spiritual pride that our Lord
condemned. The New Testament records that the Pharisees were intensely
proud, for they counted themselves as righteous; they deemed themselves to
be righteous and to need nothing. They heard the Lord Jesus offer a true
righteousness from God, and they spurned it. This word is addressed to
them and to those who follow their path. The man who is characterized by
spiritual pride will receive nothing from God; there can be no blessing of
God upon him, for pride is no foundation for righteousness. Spiritual
pride is not an evidence of holiness but of sinfulness. Spiritual pride
can never produce happiness...The poor in spirit is the one from whom the
ground of self-sufficiency has been taken. The poor in spirit is the heart
on its knees. The poor in spirit is the one characterized by an attitude
of utter dependence. (Dwight Pentecost)
It is the opposite
of that haughty, self-assertive and self-sufficient disposition which the
world so much admires and praises. It is the very reverse of that
independent and defiant attitude which refuses to bow to God, which
determines to brave things out, which says with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord
that I should obey His voice?” To be “poor in spirit” is to realize that I
have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing and have need of all things.
Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of my emptiness, the result of the
Spirit’s work within. It issues from the painful discovery that all my
righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6, Phil 3:7, 8, 9-note, Rev 3:17-note). It
follows the awakening that my best performances are unacceptable, yea, an
abomination to the thrice Holy One. Poverty of spirit evidences itself by
its bringing the individual into the dust before God, acknowledging his
utter helplessness and deservingness of hell. It corresponds to the
initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country, when he “began to be
in want.” (Lk 15:14, 11-32 (A W Pink)
Kingdom of heaven
for a discussion of the Kingdom of Heaven.
to study over 100 uses of the "Kingdom" most of which refer to the
Kingdom of Heaven/God.
Note that the phrase "Kingdom of heaven" is the "reward" that
opens and closes the Beatitudes. (Mt 5:3-note,
ON THE PRINCIPLE OF
PROPHETIC "TIME GAPS"
Isaiah 61:1-3 Jesus
Teaches about A "Time Gap" in the Fulfillment of Prophecy
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of
the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good
news to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to
proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of
our God; To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of
ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise
instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of
righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Jesus quoted the first section of this
passage in Luke (so
Who was speaking in Isaiah?)
Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned to
Galilee in the power of the Spirit (notice the role of the Spirit in
Jesus' ministry Mt 3:16, Lk 3:22, Mt 4:1, Mk 1:12, Luke 4:1, John 1:32.
How important is the Spirit to our walk and ministry? cf Acts 1:8) and
news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His
custom, He entered the
on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the
book, and found the place where it was written (Isa 61:1-2a),
18 "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH
THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR (ptochos = same word in Mt 5:3). (Note: KJV
[which is translated from Greek manuscript known as Textus Receptus and
different from the NAS, NIV which are translated from the Nestle-Aland and
felt by most scholars to be more accurate] adds the following not found in
NAS, NIV [or the Nestle-Aland manuscript] = "he hath sent me to heal
the brokenhearted") HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE
CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE
19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE (acceptable) YEAR OF THE LORD."
(Now compare what Jesus read in the Synagogue at Nazareth with what He
declared in Isaiah 61:2. Where did He stop in the Isaiah passage?)
20 And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat
down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon (gazed
intently, even idea of straining or stretching the eyes so to speak) Him.
21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled
(means filled full such that nothing else can be added and is in the
which means at the moment Jesus said
it, it was fulfilled and it stands fulfilled forever) in your hearing."
This passage in Luke is most
instructive especially in regard to interpretation of prophecy.
Clearly Jesus declares the first section of Isaiah 61:1-2a was
fulfilled at His first coming. He stopped reading in mid sentence "the
day of vengeance". Why? First note that "vengeance" is the
Hebrew word (naqam) which calls for revenge or for punishment to be
inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense. Who had been offended?
Jehovah Himself had been offended by Israel's continuous wandering,
adulterous and hardened hearts that chose idols over the Living God and
thus justly deserved His righteous punishment. But the first coming of the
Messiah was a merciful appearing ("the favorable year of the Lord") to
offer the free gift of salvation, opening the eyes of the blind. This
prophecy in Isaiah 61:1, 2a was fulfilled around 30AD. But as John records
although the King "came to His own, (most of) those who were His own did
not receive Him" (Jn 1:11, 12, 13).
Dr. Luke records the events that
marked the beginning of the last week of Jesus' ministry (during His first
advent) and the culmination of His rejection by His own people...
Luke 19:37 And as He was
now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole
multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice
for all the miracles which they had seen,
38 saying, "BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; (Ps
118:26-note) Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees (Ro 10:3-note) in the multitude said to Him,
"Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 And He answered and said, "I tell you, if these become silent, the
stones will cry out!"
41 And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it,
(cf Mt 5:4, Greek word for wept
pictures weeping or wailing with emphasis upon noise, lamentation with
sobbing and wailing aloud even as professional mourners did in a funeral
42 saying, "If you had known in this day (they could have the
very day!), even you, the things which make for peace! (cf "the
favorable year of the Lord") But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
43 "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies (He is prophesying
about the Roman general Titus who will come some 40 years later to crush
the Jewish rebellion) will throw up a bank before you, and surround you,
and hem you in on every side, (this happened when the Romans in 70AD
encircled Jerusalem in a siege that leveled the city)
44 and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they
will not leave in you one stone upon another (this occurred literally
because the Temple was on fire, melted the gold vessels which ran between
the stones, which the Roman soldiers lifted up in order to get the gold),
because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
In this passage in Luke Jesus'
points out that the Jews should have and could
have known that this was the very day the King,
their Messiah (John 1:41), would arrive in Jerusalem, the day we
call "Palm Sunday", His triumphal entry recorded in Luke 19:37, 38
where He was descending the Mt of Olives and the crowds were proclaiming
"Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord". It is
worthy noting that they even called Him the "King" quoting Ps
118:26-note where it says "Blessed is the one who comes". So the crowds
changed "one" to "king" at Jesus' "Triumphal entry" into His
beloved city, so beloved that because of their sin and rejection, it
caused Him to greatly mourn and to weep.
So this was the "favorable year of
the Lord" Jesus had read about in the synagogue probably some 3 years
earlier. This was the day of visitation that they failed to recognize. Why
should they have recognized it? The answer is found in one of the most
amazing Old Testament Messianic prophecies, Daniel 9:24, 25, 26, 27, which is
commonly referred to as the Seventy Weeks of Daniel (see
Da 9:24-27: Part 1: Notes on Daniel 9:24-25;
see new verse by verse notes on
Without going into detail a careful reading and computation of dates that
one can perform based on the specific prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27, allows
one to predict the "day of His visitation" the day the King would
enter into His city. At the end of the first "69 Weeks" of Daniel's
prophecy Messiah was to enter Jerusalem. Note that the last week of
Daniel, the seventieth week has not yet been fulfilled (see
Summary Chart of Daniel's Seventieth
and thus there has been a time gap of almost 2000 years! (See
Discussion of Time Gap in Daniel 9:24-27)
Robert Anderson (The
Coming Prince in 1894) and Harold Hoehner (in 1976) have
independently calculated that following the decree to restore and
rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah, the Prince (cf Da 9:25-note,
Neh 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) was 177,880 days which by
their calculations coincides with the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem
(Palm Sunday) riding on a donkey fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy in which
Jesus clearly presented Himself for the first time publicly (cf Jn 1:49,
Mt 2:2) as their promised Messiah and King (cf Jn 18:33, 19:1, 2, 3, 4-13,
14, 15, 19, Mt 27:37 Mk 15:26 Lk 23:37, 38)
Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O
daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your
King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,
(section in bold not quoted in the Gospels!) Humble, and mounted on a
donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey ( For a King to enter a city
in ancient days on a donkey was a symbol of peace. To enter riding on a
white horse was a symbol of conquest cf His second coming on a "white
horse" in Rev 19:11-note)." (Zechariah 9:9 is quoted in Mt 21:4, 5 "SAY TO THE
DAUGHTER OF ZION, 'BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED
ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.') (cf Jn
12:12, 13, 14, 15, Mk 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) Note that there is another time gap of
almost 2000 years between the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 (first
coming at Mount Calvary) and Zechariah 9:10 (second coming at Mount Olivet
cf Acts 1:9, 10, 11, 12, Lk 24:49, 50, 51, 52, 53,
Zech 14:3, 4, Ezekiel 43:2, 3, 4 - The Mt of
Olives is the mountain just to the east of the Eastern gate and Temple
Zechariah 9:10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse
from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak
peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from
the River to the ends of the earth. (These events describe the King's
return and triumph over the Anti-Christ and the nations arrayed against
And so tragically the majority of the Lord's
chosen people (ethnic Israel), failed to recognize the King's triumphal entry for
what it was. And so He must come again as He predicted in Isaiah 61:2b
(the point at which He ceased to read in the synagogue in Lk 4:19). And so we
eagerly, expectantly await the
fulfillment of "the day of vengeance of our God".
Meanwhile there has been a
gap of time of almost 2000 years between the historical fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1, 2a and
the yet to occur fulfillment of
Isaiah 61:2b, Isa 61:3.
And because of the failure of most of
the chosen people to recognize Jesus' favorable year, and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem,
that the King mourned and wept (Lk 19:4) (cp Mt 5:4, Lk
19:41, 42, 43, 44, Lk 13:34, 35)
Matthew records a similar lament
following Jesus' final teaching session with the multitudes and the
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who
kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I
wanted to gather your children together, the way
a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
38 "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
39 "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say,
BLESSED IS HE
IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
(Mt 23:37, 38, 39)
When will Israel say "Blessed
is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord"?
At the termination of "the day of vengeance
of our God," (Isa 61:2) at the end of
Daniel's Seventieth Week,
(Da 9:27-note, 2Th 2:3, 4, 7,
8, 9, 10, Mt 24:15, 21, 30, 31, Rev 1:7-note) when God
pours out grace upon the Jews who have survived the Great Tribulation, the
final three and one-half years marked by the rule of the "Anti-Christ".
Zechariah records God's favor to Israel at this time...
Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour
out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit
of grace and of supplication (cf Lev 26:20-42, Joel 2:28, 29, Hos 5:15,
Dt 30:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Ro 11:26, 27-note
because of Ro 11:29), so that they will look
on Me whom they have pierced (cf Zech 13:7, 8, Isa 53:5, Ps 22:16, 17-note, Acts
2:23, 3:13, 14, 15, 4:10, cf Jn 1:29, 19:34, 35, 36, 37) and they will mourn
for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep
bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
(cf Mt 13:26, 14:62, 24:30, 26:64, Lk 21:27, Rev 1:7-note,
Re 19:16-note, Amos 8:10,
2Co 7:9, 10)
11 "In that day (What day?
"the day of vengeance of our God") there will
be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of
Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
It is at this time of the King's
return, His second coming after the fulfillment of
Daniel's Seventieth Week
and the final three and one half years of the Great Tribulation that the
prophecy of Isaiah 61 is finally consummated...
And the day of vengeance of our
, Great Tribulation) To comfort all (all would include Gentiles who
are saved out of the Great Tribulation) who mourn,3 To grant those
who mourn in Zion (this speaks especially to the Jews who are saved
at His return), Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of
gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a
spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The
planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Maranatha, Our Lord, come! (1Cor 16:22)
(see commentary notes on