“Blessed are the poor in the spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”
– Matthew 5:3
The year is 1731 in Boston, Massachusetts when Jonathan Edwards preaches a sermon entitled, “God glorified in man’s dependence”. Edward’s thesis statement for the sermon is “God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him.” He continues to expound on how this dependence flows from the good nature of Christ. It is always good for the believers of Jesus to be in full dependence and reliance upon Jesus Christ. For truly when, as little children, we trust in Him, He will surely guide us and lead us through all things for our joy and His glory. He pleads with the congregation to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God and to see their desperate state before Him. Jesus begins His famous sermon with the exact same words.
THE TRUTH OF OUR HEARTS
Jesus begins with this idea of our complete sinfulness and our desperate need of our dependence upon Him in the opening lines of the sermon. The funny thing about dependence is that the sinning heart does not want to hear it. The natural response to a heart stuck in sin is self-reliance. Apart from Christ, we do not want to give anyone control. We want to dictate our lives. We want to be strong enough to handle whatever comes our way. Sin is essentially declaring to God that you can handle it on your own. Sin declares that you are your ultimate purpose and that none can thwart you.
Jesus begins the sermon and says, “You must get this right first and foremost – blessed are the poor in spirit.” This goes completely contrary to our culture and what our mentality is. We want to achieve the American dream. This friends, is one of the most difficulty things for us to admit – that we do not have everything under control. We cannot do life on our own. We are not God. Until we get to a place of accepting this truth, our lives will be dictated by circumstances and lacking real joy.
Jesus begins honestly with a paradox of life, “blessed are the poor…” Jesus is not referring to financial or economic status. He is describing the status of your soul. The funny reality is, everyone is poor in spirit. No one has any chips to bargain with when it comes to the condition of your heart. The only thing you are rich in is sin. In fact, you are overflowing with sin. Jesus is telling you that if you just realize your condition, you can and will be blessed. Sadly though, most hear Jesus words and shrug them off. They believe they can handle life and they are a good moral person. O that you would see that it more blessed to acknowledge the disease festering in your heart than to live as if nothing is wrong.
You are a desperate sinner that is spiritually poor and you need someone to pay your debts. You have nothing to barter with. Your status is broken and poor. Jesus says, “Humble yourselves for then you will see the kingdom of Heaven.” This is literally the first announcement of Jesus in His sermon. Repent and turn to Jesus. See that your heart and soul are desperately in need of Him. You have nothing to loose by forsaking your life and running to Christ. Turn to Him now and find the blessings that will come. You need to realize you are the younger brother in Luke 15 that is sitting in the pigsties. You are trapped in your sinfulness and filth. Yet, even amidst his slothfulness amongst the pigs the younger brother realizes his condition. He does not shrug it off nor accept that he is that way. The younger brother acknowledges his sin and returns to the Father.
The son fully expects to work his way back into the Father’s house. He expects to simply be a hired hand but what he gets is the complete opposite. The Father, full of grace and mercy, not only forgives the son but clothes him in the finest robe, slaps sandals on his feet and slaughters the best cow. The Father invites the whole village to celebrate that this son that “…was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24). God is ready to pour out His blessings of grace upon you if you would simply humble yourself and realize that it is better to be poor in spirit than to be rich in the world. The son acknowledged his condition and was lavished with blessing. Turn unto the gracious Father and receive the abundance of mercy and forgiveness today!