June 3, 2020

The Poor in Spirit (v. 3) – Part 1

Jesus prioritized the poor. His “mission statement” was Isaiah 61 — “to preach good news to the poor…” (see Lk. 4:16-21). He made it clear that God the Father loves the poor because of their total dependency upon him. What’s more, it stood to reason that if “God so loved the world” his love had to begin with the weakest link. Otherwise there would be a material prerequisite for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. With love for the poor as priority, the Lord precluded any socio-economic barrier to entry. The invitation was “whosoever will may come”.

No doubt, as he cast his eyes beyond the reclining disciples, he looked at some of the “hangers-on” who had followed them up the hill. The “halt, lame, and blind” would have been there, looking beseechingly at Jesus, hearing his words but impatient for the sermon to end so that he would heal them. Some stared out of empty, hollow eyes, so crippled by poverty that they had hardly made it up the hill. There were widows, orphans, both young and hold, and ragged folk in various modes of disrepair. They were the very people Jesus had come to save.

But at the moment his concern was the coaching, the mentoring of his chosen twelve. He makes it clear, however, just in case any of them saw the hangers-on as intruding, that the Gospel was to be preached first and foremost to the desolate.

“Blessed are” is translated by some theologians as, “O The blessedness of…!” The exclamation relates to how God sees those in need. The “blessed” ones live in the heady presence of God’s grace and faithfulness. They are on his radar. He knows their names and he is looking out for them. Because of this focus from the Lord they are truly blessed. They are in much greater shape, even in poverty (!), than the rich without God. Those who live beyond the pale of God’s grace and faithfulness are to be pitied.

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