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Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5

World – political

Constitution – Sacred Text

Their fear: The nation is turning into a bit of a free-for-all and there’s nothing grounding us in a common truth.

Sermon on the mount = Constitution.

For the Christian: The sermon on the mount is our constitution.

It’s the longest Jesus ever preached. In his one sermon, he lays out an incredible amount of the Christian principles that we try to live by today.

A Series? Don’t know.

Getting Jesus RIGHT.

As we come together, we’re interested in getting Jesus RIGHT.

There’s no way of getting Jesus right without understanding the sermon on the mount.

  • It’s like trying to understand Abraham Lincoln w/o understanding the gettysburg address
  • Or understanding Martin Luther King Jr without understanding the ‘I have a dream’ speech.

The Beatitudes.

The beatitudes are the “introduction” to the sermon on the mount.

Who here learned them as a kid?

Bible Bowl

Not a word you’ll find in the bible.

8 blessings as the prologue to his his most important sermon.

Matthew 5:1-10

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, (Matthew 5:1)

and he began to teach them. He said: (Matthew 5:2)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

Jesus – grow – popularity. – Huge crowds.

Mostly – b/c miracles. All kinds of different people – jews gentiles, different religions, ethnicities. All kinds of people.

When Jesus saw that, he left the shores of galilee and climbed up a mountain – a mountain that surrounds the sea of galilee.

Sat down, as rabbi’s did, to teach.

There’s huge amounts of people who are wanting IN on what Jesus is doing.

Giving the constitution. But since it’s such a diverse crowd, the question is this: Who’s allowed in and who isn’t.

If you think about the pharisees, it was a very small group that was allowed in.

So Jesus starts, the very first thing he says, is “Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

What is he talking about?

1st off: The beatitudes are not things to do.

In fact, he’s not telling you to DO anything here.

He’s commenting on who’s in, and who’s out.

All – counter-intuitive.

For Jesus – His message “Come one and all.”

Specific statements about people who religion people would assume are not welcome.

Eugene Peterson – in the message paraphrase – incredible scholar in biblical languages – wanted to use to word ‘Lucky’ but his publishers wouldn’t let him.

What he’s saying is “Are you like this? We’ll lucky for you, you’re included in this too.”

Deeply radical.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Including people who previously weren’t included.

Don’t overthink it.

A good modern day translation might say something like: “Lucky are you who aren’t good at spiritual stuff, you’re gonna like this new kingdom.”

“You who are poor at being spiritual, this is for you too.” BTW – this is most people.

Every generation : Michael Jordans / Tiger Woods.

There’s always musicians who are naturally amazing.

Jesse McDermott

Doesn’t mean they don’t try hard. In fact, in most cases, they try harder than everybody else. But if I were to play music as much as Jesse, I still wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as he is. Because he’s an amazingly hard worker, but he also has a gift.

I am good at explanaing my position.

Arguing. – Ask my wife. And my parents. Yes I work at it, but more than anything, I’m naturally good at it.

There are people who are gifted at being spiritual. Naturally.

Every society has it’s priests, shamans, spiritual gurus.

It’s a minority. It’s totally great. Nothing wrong with it.

It’s just that in this particular statement, Jesus isn’t talking to you.

Here’s how you can tell:

Family reunion. – Let’s say you have family in from out of town. Cousins, aunts, uncles. Huge group. Somebody has to say the prayer before you eat. If they pick you, it’s because you are good at being spiritual. Rich in spirituality.

(How many – picked?) We are the unusual ones.

Most people are like this: Hmmm… would I rather pray in public or be thrown into a pit of snakes?

Jesus is saying: Hey you, who don’t get called on to pray at dinner, you’re gonna love this too.

Here’s why I think this is important

A huge amount of people avoid the church because they don’t feel comfortable in here.

Of all the guys here, who would be super excited to her that we’re going to have a 3 hour night of nothing but worship?

With that, if we’re not careful, comes a certain amount of ‘I must not be doing this as well as everybody else.’

There a huge amounts of people who truly love God, but these super ‘spiritual’ thing just don’t appeal to them.

Cross project

On the other hand, we had this cross project last week for Good Friday and Easter – of all you women, who thought, YES!!!

Inga – Friend – DisneyWorld – wheelchair, man with severed legs – Went up and asked if she could pray for his legs to grow back.

Would – done that? – Jesus: “Place for you.”

Jesus & his ministry

If you think about Jesus & his life

The super spiritual didn’t much like Jesus.

One of the main reasons is that he allowed too many people in.

“Seems to me that you’re saying that being super spiritual doesn’t give you an inside track to God.”

That’s why this is so controversial, b/c everybody knows it’s the super-spirituals who are really in good with God. And Jesus is saying ‘Nah.’

When Jesus – picking his team – does it look like he’s picking out the navy seals of spirituality to you?

Jesus is going to build his movement with Fisherman and not pharisees.

Pharisees were good at being spiritual.

Phylacteries Small box they’d wear on their arm and even on their forehead with verses from the torah.

The fisherman – uhhh… Not so much.

This is why the Pharisees resented Jesus. If God were to come and do something, he’d use them! The super spirituals.

Peter – crude fisherman

When Jesus comes to him: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Jesus, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m not a super spiritual. At the end, Jesus gives him the whole thing. – The whole ministry.

Jesus isn’t telling you to be poor in spirit. Many people will say that, that’s fine, that’s not how I read this.

If you’re spiritually rich, that’s fine. It’s just that Jesus isn’t talking to you here. You already knew you were in.

It might frighten you how powerfully God can use you if you’re willing to let him use you in unexpected ways.

But you have to stop feeling like you need to be something you’re not in order for Him to use you.


For me – Pastor For me – As a pastor – even huge parts of me that don’t feel like I’m a superspiritual.

There’s pastors who, so long as they’re prayed up, they just walk up to the podium and they say the spirit gives them the words to speak. WHAT?! Besides the fact that man, that seems like a lot of pressure! That’s just not me at all. Nor do I want it to be.

Me and Goldman go to the gym – 3/4 of the time, he pulls in in his jeep with worship music blasting, and I’m just thinking “What on earth would possess a person to do that?!” I’m listening to some tech podcast, maybe a sermon.

But it’s amazing to see that I think, it’s not IN SPITE of that stuff, but BECAUSE of who I am, that God is able to use me in surprising ways. And make unexpected communities, like this one.

Jesse McDermott In trader Joes, how many people have come in in wheelchairs and you laid hands on them, and prayed for them to walk?

My Wife My Wife – amazing woman of God, incredible impact. How many strangers have you gone up to and asked if you could pray for them?

I want you to think of: Construction workers, stay at home moms, people who work at restaurants, people who work at walmart, as the modern day fisherman.

You are in NO WAY 2nd class citizens here.

So when it comes to this community: We’re not going to be spiritual elite forces.

We’re gonna be regular people who have received the grace of God. Not gonna be the navy seals of Christianity. I’m much more interested in being a church for ordinary people.


There’s a lot of Super spirituals who want to be the Yodas of the Christian faith. The great keeper of the flame.

I can tell you where God is moving, where He’s not. When we’re super spiritual and have 5 hour prayer meetings, God shows up! But God isn’t one to be put in a box.

Henri Nouwen Quote

There is a great and subtle temptation to suggest to myself or others where God is working and where not, when he is present and when not, but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk, has any ‘special’ knowledge about God. God cannot be limited to any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants.” – Henri Nouwen

Jesus isn’t saying “Blessed are you who can outdo everybody else with your super spirituality!”

I’ll be honest, you might impress people. You hold a 5 hour prayer meeting, people WILL be impressed.

But I don’t think we should out to impress people.

I’d rather be a community where people come in and say ‘Wow, those people look pretty ordinary. I think I could be a part of that!’ They were just people like me.

Here’s a good way to say it: Blessed are you who are not good at being super spiritual. God’s kingdom is a perfect fit for ordinary people.