The Poor in Spirit
Those Who Mourn
|How are the poor in spirit blessed?||
How Can One Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
+R = 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
Foretold by 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.
What is the context? What message had John and Jesus preached to the people (Mt 3:2, 4:17)?
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...
How 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 Heaven.
How 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.
How would they demonstrate that their change in thinking (repentance) was genuine (Mt 3:8)?
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.
God's righteousness 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 apply to?
To all believers - for all will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, all will receive comfort, mercy, see God, be persecuted, etc.
What is the King's repeated promise which riveted His audience?
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 financially destitute? What is the immediate context?
What does the Greek word for "poor" mean?
Poor in spirit is the opposite of
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 reward 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 Kingdom"?
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 Millennium 1, Millennium 2, Millennium 3)
Was the SOM given as the way of salvation or as the way of life for true children of the King?
Clearly the latter.
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 following passages?
He is near the brokenhearted, saves those who are crushed in spirit
(Context: David's sins of adultery & murder)
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)
In sum God "BLESSES"
What's another way to say "lowly" which parallels the "poor in spirit"?
Those who trusted in self that they were +R (the "Self +R")
Viewed others with contempt (looked down upon, scorned others) (cf Mt 7:1-2, 7:3-5)
Who were the 2 participants in this parable? Lk 18:10
Pharisee & Tax collector
Why 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 they doing?
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? Lk 18:13
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 the Three Tenses of Salvation)
How did Jesus explain?
He who exalts himself shall be humbled (in this life or the one to come) (see )
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 ~ humbled
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 Him ("+R")
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...
(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 spirit'
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 heaven"
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?
Wrath of God
What is the basic understanding every man must arrive at?
Their need for a God kind of +R
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 7:13-14)
The way "up" is
What did Paul recognize about himself? (note)
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
Spirit of God upon
Why is Christ the answer?
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 Heaven.
Don't 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 (2Cor 5:21)?
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)
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 2:15-17)
“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 Havner)
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!
Who receives the blessing in Mt 5:4
Note that the verb mourn is in the present tense which speaks of a habitual attitude of mourning or mourning as one's lifestyle.
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 paradox...
"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, cheerless Christians."
What is the blessing?
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 verb mourn (pentheo)?
Pentheo means 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.
What are "those who mourn" to mourn over? Does Jesus refer to mourning in general?
Jesus does not mean..."Blessed are those who are mourning over the difficulties of life."
What relationship do the first two beatitudes have or are they merely random statements by our Lord?
Who "crashed" the party?
A woman, a sinner
What did she do and why?
She was mourning and weeping over her sins which were many
Picture the scene of this religious Pharisee reclining as was the custom across from Jesus, watching this woman he knew to have a bad reputation.
What was Pharisee's reaction?
If Jesus was a prophet he should have known she was a sinner
What did Jesus teach?
The greater the debt forgiven the greater the love - Like the woman and totally unlike the Pharisee who did not think himself a sinner!
How did Jesus "comfort" the woman?
She was poor in spirit and mourned over her sin.
When the King returns, He will...
Comfort all who mourn
Grant those who mourn in Zion (Jerusalem)
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. (Note)
David Brainerd's journal on October 18, 1740:
"In my morning devotions my soul was exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and vileness."
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)
Thinking about "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 your sins
6) Ja 4:10 Humble self in His presence > Exalt (Comfort)
1 Cor 5:1-13
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
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
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
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?
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,
Sermon on the Mount
Proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom...
Near: Hebrew word (qarab) has the basic meaning of being or coming into the most near and intimate proximity of the subject!
Broken: (shabar) 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 in the Septuagint (LXX) 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...
Saves (yasha) 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" in the Septuagint (LXX) is 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 whole.
Crushed (dakka') bruised, beaten to pieces, humbled.
The Greek word used for "crushed" in the Septuagint (LXX) 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...
F B Meyer comments on "the LORD is nigh"...
The Greek word used for "contrite" in the Septuagint (LXX) 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).
Warren Wiersbe writes a devotional on this section entitle "Broken Things"...
Spurgeon commenting on "a broken and contrite heart O God Thou wilt not despise" writes...
Matthew Henry adds that...
A Handbook on the Book of Psalms notes that
The Preacher's Commentary writes that...
F B Meyer comments...
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” (Phil. 2:12-13).
Dwight Pentecost notes how the Pharisee...
“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...
Although it is not a popular "tactic" in many churches today, the Bible clearly teaches that
tax-gatherers: (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)
Here is the entry on "publican" (tax collector) from Smith's Bible Dictionary...
J Vernon McGee makes this story very applicable to our modern world writing that...
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!
Pentecost comments that...
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 life.
This simple chronological record of Paul's spiritual life leads to the following conclusions:
(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 Matthew 5:1)
Here is a quotable quote on the Sermon on the Mount...
|Mt 5:2 (see commentary notes on Matthew 5:2)|
|Mt 5:3 (see commentary notes on Matthew 5:3)
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 interpretation has led some to make grossly inappropriate application 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)
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 in ourselves. 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)
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Isaiah 61:1-3 Jesus Teaches about A "Time Gap" in the Fulfillment of Prophecy
Jesus quoted the first section of this passage in Luke (so Who was speaking in Isaiah?)
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...
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 Da 9:24; Da 9:25; Da 9:26; Da 9:27). 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 Week) 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)
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 Pharisees declaring...
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...
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...
Maranatha, Our Lord, come! (1Cor 16:22)
|Mt 5:4 (see commentary notes on Matthew 5:4)|