And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Beatitudes, Jesus is describing for us how heavenly, spiritual blessings are the opposite of what the world would have us believe. The Beatitudes are the opposite of how the world would have us think and behave. Why? Because unlike the advice given to us by this fallen world which only seeks our destruction, the Beatitudes lead to eternal life in the presence of Christ. Here the word for “blessings” refers to a divinely inspired happiness and sense of well being. Along with a joy and compassion that stems from a heart committed to Christ through faith. This is God’s gift to all of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, this gift is given freely to us by God’s grace and cannot be earned. Society today would have us believe that happiness is found in the achieving of abundance, having success and the experiencing of much merriment, leisure and entertainment. And that the measure of our success can be seen in what we own and how much it costs, that bigger is always better. When in fact the truth is just the opposite.
The world would have us believe we have to earn our way to Heaven through self-righteous acts which do more to boost our egos and pride, than to draw us closer to God. Moreover, many who do not know Christ are lead into a deeper sense of despair when they follow the world’s wisdom and obtain all the world has told them to strive for. In the end they are still left empty and depressed in a world that has nothing more to offer. Here in this first Beatitude Jesus begins a series of instructions to help us draw closer to God and gain a better understanding of God’s will for our lives. Jesus begins by speaking of the “Poor in Spirit” and this is really referring to the opposite of self-confidence, self-sufficiency and arrogance. Rather, Jesus is speaking of a deep and honest humility along with a realization that we are spiritually lost without Him. It describes an acute realization of the hopelessness of a life spent apart from Christ, and the divine grace which He alone can provide. As believers, we know that the kingdom of heaven is a gracious gift for those who have accepted Jesus by faith. And through the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we come to understand our own spiritual poverty without Jesus.