“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:3
I can only imagine how people who gathered expecting to hear from Jesus more of what they had heard from just about every other rabbi in the world reacted when Jesus begins His important Sermon on the Mount with these words. Just imagine: Happy are the poor in…ANYTHING…let alone poor in spirit. Just what does He mean by this?
Added to the confusion is the brand of happiness that Jesus speaks of. The amplified Bible translates “Blessed” this way: “spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired”. Since when are those who recognize they are lacking considered prosperous and admired? On the surface, this makes no sense. Thank goodness Jesus never said anything just on the surface.
This verse speaks to the understanding of ones location as they seek to get to a destination long sought after but until now eluded, the Kingdom of Heaven. The people of Jesus’ day sought for genuine ways and methods of getting to even a knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven, let alone arriving there. Up until Jesus came on the scene what they had received in the multiple religions of the day and even with Judaism, was unfulfilling even to those who taught it! Jesus here goes back to basics about the process of being lost and finding your way to your desired destination.
Do you remember life on the road trying to find your way to a location BEFORE GPS? At the risk of dating myself a bit, remember that antiquated tool of yester-year…the road map? Upon opening the map, before getting directions to where you wanted to go you had to determine to fixed points on the map: where you wanted to go, and where you currently are. Once discovering these, you can choose the correct way to get from where you are to where you desire to go. It’s a simple concept to understand but sometimes complicated by a multitude of things. Sometimes the hardest part of navigation is not finding where you want to go. Often the difficulty is discovering WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. You see, the best directions will fail 100% of the time if you get the “you are here” wrong!
That was the problem, with the people of Jesus’ day and even now. They did not have the proper concept of where they really were. Different ideas and philosophies both then and now have our YOU ARE HERE all wrong. We can never get there, if we don’t accurately know where our “here” truly is.
I remember, more times than I care to, fighting with the map on the side of road, sure of where of I would like to go but unable to find where I was. Maybe some of you who have been there alongside of me can relate to the illation that comes when finally, you get a perspective of where you are. You can see where you are sitting on the roadmap. It does not really matter how far away you find yourself from the destination, if you can find yourself on the map and you know where you want to go, YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO GETTING HOME!
In a real sense, this is the elation that Jesus spoke about in verse 3. After looking at the roadmap to the Kingdom of Heaven (the Bible), I have even more than an accurate assessment of where I am. I am NOWHERE!! I am too far to even pretend to be close…so why then does Jesus call me happy (“one to be envied”)? The roadmap of Heaven says once, I discover and embrace where I really am, there is suddenly a Way to the Kingdom so sure and clear that the Kingdom is as good as mine—“…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” You see on the way to Heaven, the hardest part is accepting that with your own twists and turns you will never make it. When I can accept that, I can also accept that the map has provided The Way to make it in…His name is Jesus! In the Kingdom there is nothing that can compare but to. Still, just to give you the general idea, it is like being desperately thirsty a second before a huge glass of totally refreshing and cooling water goes down your throat. It is like, having an intense itch that you could never reach on your own a split second before it is scratched.
The Message Bible says it this way: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” It is the realization that although I once was totally lost, now, although my spirit is fully aware of its poor condition, I am sooo happy to know I am found. Have you experienced the joy of being poor yet?