Blessed are the poor…

The Sermon on the Mount or the beatitudes of Jesus found in Matthew 5-7 are notoriously difficult to interpret.  This sermon on Matthew 5:1-5 is the first in a number of sermons that seeks to expound what Jesus is saying to his disciples as they sat as his feet on a hill or mountain somewhere in Galilee.  What did it mean to the disciples and the first-century Jews more broadly when Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”; “Blessed are those who mourn…”; and “Blessed are the meek…”?  What do these words mean to us today as we find our lives in the salvation-history continuum of this text?

It is crucial to understand that Jesus is not saying that poverty of spirit, mourning and meekness are qualifications to enter heaven.  Rather, he is describing the blessed estate of those who have already entered into the kingdom of heaven by God’s grace alone.  Here we get a window into the counter-cultural way of life of the kingdom of heaven.  Unlike the world which values health, wealth and prosperity, and is fixated with the winner, the beatitude of the kingdom of heaven is bestowed upon losers, and Christ’s kingdom advances through a veil of suffering and death.

It is through our sufferings in this life – at the hands of the world, the flesh and the devil – that we are brought to repentance under the law and faith lays hold of the good news of Jesus as the one who humbled himself so that we might become rich.  Christ, the Son of God, willingly suffered and died so that we can enjoy the blessedness of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, this day and forevermore!  Amen.

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