Friday, February 29, 2008

Understanding Jesus

I've been reading through Matthew these days, and I'm surprised to find that it's taking a while. It seems that everywhere I go there are words that are more to me than they were before. I have this desire to dig deeper into these words and understand more clearly what they mean - what Jesus means when He speaks them. Hopefully you can bear with my fumbling learning curve as I work through some parts of the sermon on the mount, starting with the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)...

Blessed are the...

I think it's important to first figure out what Jesus means by the term 'blessed.' In my everyday life, I often equate blessings and things. For example, "What a beautiful home you have," "Thank-you, we're very blessed." Or, "God has blessed me with these children/this marriage/these friends." To be honest, I really don't think that's what Jesus is getting at here. I really can't imagine Him sitting on this big hill, chatting with his disciples while a crowd of people listens in, telling them "Now, if you are poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc., I assure you that you will have a life full of great things that you can give Me credit for."

I think the key to 'blessed are those' is found at the end of each verse: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... for they will be comforted... for they will inherit the earth... for they will be filled... for they will be shown mercy... for they will see God... for they will be called [daughters] of God... for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... and finally - because great is your reward in heaven. Jesus isn't telling me how to get everything I want or need here, but He is telling me how to get the ONLY thing I really need! He cares so much that I receive this 'blessing' that He provides me with a thorough list of the character attributes He wants me to develop, in order to receive His great heavenly rewards.

...poor in spirit

Okay, I must confess that I initially read over this the same way I would skim a phrase in a novel that I didn't completely understand. Like understanding that one phrase probably won't affect the overall impact of the story. In fact, I flew all the way through Matthew's fifth chapter, and it was only once I reached the end that I realized I didn't truly grasp any of what Jesus was talking about! We all know what it means to be poor, right? To do without, to have not. Or in terms of a poor performance - weak, lacking, unsatisfactory, inferior. So is Jesus really saying we will be blessed if our spirit (or spirtual lives) are weak? I couldn't wrap my head around this, because I know that Christ has called me to grow strong in Him, so I pulled out my handy google search engine. After reviewing about 5 different takes on it, my heart settled on this: we are poor in spirit, imperfect and lacking. To accept this fact and acknowledge that, on our own, we are spiritual nothings, destitute - we can do nothing apart from Christ - this is what it means to be poor in spirit. Ah-hah

Isaiah 66:2b This is the one I esteem: [she] who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Oh, to be esteemed by God Himself! Our pastor often speaks of having a contrite heart and spirit, of putting ourselves in our rightful place (way below God). This heart attitude, a BE-attitude, will reap unimaginable rewards in heaven. Oh Father, that I would be poor in spirit and beautiful in Your eyes...


  1. I love your deep awareness of God's meaning in His words to us. I've said it before, but you really should be writing devotionals. You have a gift of understanding and wisdom. Thanks for sharing your gift with us.

  2. This is so well said. WOW! I have often strugged with the way so many toss out the phrase, "we've been blessed..."

    I am reading Matthew right now as well - around chapter 16 and loved hearing your thoughts on this.


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