first recorded words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount are blessed are those who mourn. This is a strange
statement. The surprising word He used was "blessed." It is a Greek word, MARKARIOS, which has the
sense of being happy or satisfied. So Jesus' words could be restated as "Happy are the poor in spirit." I
do not know about you, but this is not my normal idea of happiness. The ancientsˆ had their concept of
happiness and it is not very different from our view.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NASB) Matt 5:3
Ancients Were Happy When . . . Homer said a man is MARKARIOS when he has wealth,
a good wife and children. Others in the ancient world said, one was MARKARIOS when they had power, fame, a
life of pleasure, when they could live in joy without suffering, or have constant nonstop satisfaction. Aristotle
believed a person who was virtuous was MARKARIOS. I have discovered that I can have a sense of being happy
when I am with people who respect me, when I am busy accomplishing my goals or being entertained. If we are
honest with ourselves, we are always pursuing happiness. But Jesus says we are really satisfied when we are "poor
in spirit." What does He mean by that?
The "Poor in Spirit?"
Of the two Greek words for poor, PTOCHOS and PENAS, that Jesus could have used, He used PTOCHOS. This word, PTOCHOS, means more than just being poor. To give you a sense of the rich meaning of the word, look up Luke 16:19-25. What we see is a poor man named Lazarus
. He is so poor that he is diseased and longing for crumbs that fall to the floor, not loaves or slices of bread - he is just hoping for crumbs. That is poor. He has absolutely nothing. In fact, the correct meaning of PTOCHOS is “beggar.” The second word for poor, the word Jesus did not use, refers to a person who at least has something. In our culture a PENAS person would have a place to live, a home, but PTOCHOS implies one who is living in the streets. Where are you living? Do you see what Jesus is saying? He is saying that we are really happy when we are beggars in spirit. Real happiness is realizing that you are a spiritual beggar - out in the streets and spiritually having nothing. Do you see yourself as having nothing - spiritually speaking? When we honestly believe we are spiritually poor, we will come begging to God for help - for even His crumbs.
Happy Is The Beggar.
That afternoon on the hillside, Jesus was talking to a
lot of people. Some were spiritual beggars and others were not. We are not spiritual beggars when we speak
against God and ask why He did this or did that to me or someone else. We are not beggars when we want honor
and want others to serve us. That is not Jesus' idea of a beggar. A street beggar knows he has nothing and
rejoices in whatever he receives. A spiritual street beggar knows he sins and displeases God. A spiritual beggar
comes to God to receive a spiritual handout. Did you know that God is giving away free stuff? He offers forgiveness
for our sins and He is offering the kingdom of God to you if you believe in Jesus, when you truly
you become a disciple or follower of Jesus. This is Jesus idea
. Happiness is dependence on God for everything in your
life. A spiritual beggar knows that he/she has nothing to offer God. His handout is free - just receive His
forgiveness of your sins
and He will take you off the streets and bring you into His mansion (John 14:2),
the kingdom of heaven
Disciple, Are You Still Begging? As His disciples, we are no longer living
in the streets of sin. Our sins are forgiven. Yet, what is interesting is that we often feel as though we have
no needs. We forget that we are still dependent on Jesus. If you are a disciple, are you like me and often
in self-denial about your neediness? The Bible tells us that we should never be confident about our plans and
that we should always say “Lord willing” (James 4:13-17). We are told to not “worry about
anything, but pray and ask God for everything [we] need, always giving thanks” (Phil. 4:6 (NCV). “Do
not worry then saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What
will we wear for clothing?’ . . . your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew
6:31-32, NIV). “So through Jesus let us always offer to God our sacrifice of praise” (Heb. 13:15,
NCV). “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves . . .” but if we are constantly admitting
our sins, “He will forgive our sins” (1 John 1:8-9, NCV). You see, Jesus offers help and ongoing
forgiveness to His needy disciples. But self-sufficient disciples do not ask nor do they constantly admit or
confess their sins because they do not sense they have needs. Are you a needy disciple, a beggar in spirit
- thankful and yet sorry for your sins. Or, have you forgotten you are a forgiven beggar? Remember only God
is perfect and self-sufficient. Everything we have has come from Him. Are you poor in spirit? Then the Kingdom
of Heaven is your future home!
Comments or Questions?