The Apostle Matthew uses interesting phraseology in chapter 5 of the gospel that bears his name, verse 2, in explaining how Jesus began to teach with a particular hebraism, “And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying” The meaning here implies, that when Jesus began to speak, it was with purpose, and authority. He wasn’t simply, randomly, beginning to talk with people sort of ad libbing as He went. He had a strong message that was well thought out, and lined out, with order (John 5:19). He was about to speak concerning His Kingdom, and entrance unto. In this verse Matthew offers insite to the manner in which Jesus began to teach. It was noteable for those who heard him, that He took what He said very seriously; He wanted His hearers to do likewise. What He spoke was come directly from the Father.
He spoke with authority, and strong purpose, as He began to speak to His disciples. And Yet, what blessedness came forth from His mouth. Authority, yes! Blessing? In abundance!
“and taught them, saying”. This is another indication of not only His authority to speak in the way He is speaking, but as important, the posture of those who would need to listen carefully, if they wished to learn. Being taught will have as much to do how the hearers here, as with what the teacher will teach. Let him who has ears to hear, hear! Jesus began to teach, truly teach, not like the Pharisees, who spoke many words, and yet, could not speak for God. The words of Jesus brought life, brought healing, brought deliverance, brought instruction! When He opened His mouth to teach, He spoke the Words of God, as He was in word and in deed, the Word of God!
We are seeing in our generation, the ability to learn, to listen, to even be taught in the way Jesus is here beginning to teach, as a thing for past generations. The rapidity of information flowing in and out of our brains today, seems to be the measure we use of our learning capacity. How much we can learn, how quickly we learn, and how fast are we to use what passes through, can determine our success. Our world is ever increasingly focused on faster technology, which necessitates very fast learning ability. The skills needed for this fast paced environment begins, now, at a very early age. Why do you suppose this is? Is it possible that their is scheming involved, by our adversary? Such a scheming that renders us incapable of believing there even exists a way of being taught outside of modern day, fast paced propriety? Would such a thought be found worthy to fit in to our self obsorbed, prideful modernity?
Learning to operate a computer, someone may assume, shows this ability of being able to be taught in the way necessary to understand the Gospels. Or maybe the idea of running a corporation is indication of abilities required to learn from Jesus. There is a difference, however. It is easy to assume that if someone is able to learn how to use the things of this world, he is then teachable in the sense that he is able to be taught spiritual things.
With the pace that is being set in the world, the Church has felt the pressures. It is a popular thing today for anyone who has thoughts of going into ministry, to first go to a Bible school, or seminary. It is supposed that in showing the ability to learn the lessons, and understand the doctrines of the schools, to be trained to learn, that this is evidence the student is also equipped to learn, and be taught, by the Holy Spirit of God. The approach, and the pace, is not so different than for the student who attends any other University. There is no difference in how the student would learn, from being a lawyer, or minister. The assumption is that the degree enables anyone to be whatever they’re trained to be.
As Jesus begins to open His mouth, and teach, there is something immediately pressed upon the minds of hearers. Something radically different about the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is here beginning to unfold, than the kingdoms of this world. The knowledge that is attainable in the Kingdom of Heaven is a knowledge that does not come from the world, nor is it in the world. There is no fast paced information dump. What many do not see is that there is a drastic contrast between the two. Because a man is able to earn a Phd. in religion, does not mean he also has ears to hear what the Spirit of God says.
As Jesus begins His message, He begins with the first principle of the Kingdom, which is also the first principle of receiving anything from God (Proverbs 28:9). We can understand it as the first principle in the school of the Master. The first principle we have already mentioned, which is of course, Repentance. Repentance from dead works, is the first lesson Jesus taught, and it is the first principle in order to enter in to Life Everlasting. When Jesus begins to teach, this principle of repentance is the beginning of Wisdom, as it leads towards an obediant life, and is so, related to the Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:9)
The Beatitudes are a beautiful picture of the Image of God, drawn by the Father, and illustrated through Jesus the Messiah. When Jesus begins to teach these Beatitudes, He is describing His Own Personal Characteristics. These Beatitudes are a description of the Image of God, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. As the Son of God is not of this world, nor are these characteristics of the Son in these verses, of this world, they are of Heaven. These virtues we know as the Beatitudes, are virtues not attainable by the world. They do not come from the world, and are not known by the world. There are many who imitate these virtues, and pretend an elevated spirituality. What Jesus is teaching comes by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Not by being inundated with information, to be assimulated, for means of production.
The knowledge of God that Jesus is teaching on with these Beatitudes, is not meant to make those who hear, producers, as in keepers, or doers. This information is not meant to better equip for performance. We cannot learn to be Poor in Spirit by learning principles, or analytics. Such attempts at producing the attributes on our own, can only result is destortions of what only God can produce. To attempt to become poor in spirit, will only subvert the intention of God, in that these things cannot come, and will not come, from human will. Man is in need of repentance, he cannot then cause hot and cold water to spring forth at the same time, from his being, from the fountain of his soul. Because of this need, he is unable to save himself. He cannot become what he needs to become, all on his own.
More than anything, these Beatitudes are presented for us to see a contrast. Jesus is showing His Own Attributes, so we can know what great difference there is between our own selves, and His character. It is not His goal, that we hear these words, and then produce a result. It can’t be done, by human endeavor. What is desired, is that those who have ears to hear, would seek to know Jesus, as He is revealing Himself. The job of changing us into His Image, is that of the Holy Spirit. We learn to love whom we are seeing in the Gospel, and in repentance, begin to follow Him. He tells us that the Poor in Spirit are blessed. This does not imply that the listener, or reader, are now poor in spirit because they hear and read. It is enough for the present time, for Jesus to show the contrast. The work of change will come with the Holy Spirit who comes to teach us all things.
Jesus teaching on these characteristics of the Image of God, are as different from what man thinks, and does, as light is from darkness. Ideas that are entertained about what one thing means, and another thing, and so on, will have no place in the understanding of what He is meaning, for instance, concerning meekness. We’ll get to this meaning later on, but for now let me say, what the world may define as meekness, and even interpret it as a weakness, is extraordinarily opposed to the meaning Jesus places on the word. The teaching Jesus gives on meekness does not come from the world. More on meekness a little later on.
It is enough for us now, to understand, that what Jesus teaches in these first few verses which are titled, The Beatitudes, are absolutely different from anything the world can offer, nor even understand. The work does not come from any effort of the self in man. The understanding comes from God’s Holy Spirit. The meanings are contrary to mans ways, and thoughts. This presents for us our great need, even before we begin to listen to Jesus on this sermon. We are in need to listen to what He has said before this moment arrived on the scene; when He said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand”! With every attribute we are presented with by the Master, may we humbly, in a frame of mind of true repentance from our selves, as we sit at the Masters feet, be taught of Him. Ask yourself this, are you one who is able to be taught of God? Those who refuse to repent are those who in action, as action speaks louder than words, reject God. Those who will not listen to Jesus, will never learn from Jesus.
What I’ve been describing is what Jesus begins with, what it means to be “Poor in spirit”. Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
There is most certainly an order to the Beatitudes which will become increasingly apparent as we move ahead. This first Beatitude is in itself the beginning that corresponds to the call to repentance, and also to another Beatitude, those who are merciful (more on this a little later on). This poorness cannot be manufactured in the world. The world cannot repent of itself, nor can it be understood without the help of the Holy Spirit.
This poorness comes directly from God. It is made manifest in His Image. Jesus, again, is describing His Own Attributes. He is the One who is truly poor in spirit. He alone is truly empty of pride, arrogance, manipulation, self will, self seeking, self love. He alone lived a completely sinless life, so He alone is able, and worthy, to be called Poor In Spirit! He alone is worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven! And yet, He Himself says to us, BLESSED! Oh how blessed! are those who learn the Way! The Truth! The Life! How blessed!
Being poor in spirit is being poor to those eliments that would opposed the Son of God in your life. You are poor in those qualities of pride, arrogance, haughtiness, etc. when you are poor in spirit. Blessed are they, that learn to walk in Spirit of Jesus, He says He Himself is meek and lowely of heart. These poor ones are the repentant ones! “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” Being poor in spirit is to be repentant of self love, self seeking, self serving. The poor ones, who have died to the self, and taken up their own crosses to follow Jesus, are the only ones who are fit vessels for the Holy Spirit of God to come and fill. Blessed are they!
This poorness of spirit is an attribute of the Image of God. My friends, this is a permanent attribute, and not just something you learn about, and move on. It is to become apart of how we are defined.
May God Bless and keep you!