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Blessed are the bankrupt mourners Matt. 5:3,4

July 27, 2014 Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 5:3–5:4

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Last week we looked at an introduction to this most famous of all sermons.

I'm a big fan of John Piper. Any one here listen to John Piper? Familiar with him at all? He's one of my hero's. He has a famous book. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

Now most people are momentarily taken aback at the idea of a christian hedonist. What's that. We thought hedonists were people who go to bizarre excess in their pursuit of pleasure.

And they are. But Piper says, the word itself is sound. It's what people are going after that's haywire. What if christians were just as extreme in their pursuit of happiness as worldly hedonists, except they followed a biblical model that is totally counterintuitive to what the world says you have to do to seek happiness?

Jesus here gives a model that He says will ultimately result in wellness. happiness. Peace.

The world looks at Jesus model and laughs. Happy are the sad. That's the dumbest thing they've ever heard. Almost as crazy as;
Lk. 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25"For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to be "poor in spirit".

First of all, lets try to define terms.

Pam came in a couple of Thursday nights ago and asked if I think there is a difference between soul and spirit. The ladies had been discussing something and that question came up. What's the difference?

1 Thessalonians 5:23 says; Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the greek, the word for spirit occurs 97 times. pneuma. We get our word pneumatic. Air.

We learn that our spirit was dead in it's trespasses and sin. Our spirit is that which was made to have fellowship with God. When we become christians, the Holy Spirit indwells us and our spirit becomes alive together with Him. We have fellowship with God, spirit to spirit, if you will.

The spirit whether alive or dead, is the center of worship in men. That's what God designed it to do, and that's what it will do whether it is alive together with Christ, or dead in trespasses and sin.

You will hear people say all the time, I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual. Have you heard that? Although they don't quite understand all that entails, they are quite right.

Therefore, the whole world, though dead to God, is busy worshipping something. Sex. Food. Money. Power. Relationships. Family.

There is something that every man or woman, when they rise in the morning, their brain will automatically go to work on making that thing happen, because at the bottom of whatever it is, the person is convinced, this will cause me happiness. Satisfaction.

We are all hedonists to - something. Bingo, that's where Jesus starts His sermon!

Blessed are ... Some translation say "happy are". I would agree with folks who would argue that we have made that word too trite. Happy is OK, but there's more to it than what our minds conger with only that word. So what is the idea behind this word that Jesus uses, blessed.

Peter gets at it in 1st Peter 3:10, doesn't he. He says; Let him who means to love life and see good days . . .

He's quoting Psalm 34 and I think it's one of the best definitions in the Bible of this term "Blessed". It's more than happiness. It encompasses a deep satisfaction and inner peace. A sense of well being. Wellness. A deep sense that I am a child of the King and ultimately, no matter what happens, I am under direct sovereign control of One who loves me and has ordered every good thing for me.

My head could be in a Moslem guillotine, and no one could take that truth away from me.

The word for soul is psyche. My body is just a big lump of matter. My soul is the person that lives inside. My body will be buried and return to dust soon enough. My soul will be alive somewhere . . forever. The person inside the body will be a conscious being, forever.

So here Jesus doesn't use the word for soul. He uses the word for spirit.

In doing word studies on this, the word for poor is telling. It doesn't just mean poor. It has the sense of cowering. A destitute bankrupt whose last and only option is to cower shrinking back and begging for mercy. That kind of poor. Hopeless poor.

But what's telling is that Jesus when He's defining His ministry, more than once says, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

There's a connection between being spiritually poor, and being a candidate for having the gospel preached to you.

Let's talk about opposites for a moment, in order to help define our topic.

At our house we have one of those TiVo things that records programs to watch later. American Idol. America's got talent. Who wants to be a millionaire. The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. Househunters International. Beachfront Bargains, and even Chopped, that food show where the chef's compete.

What does all of that stuff have in common? We love to watch people clawing their way to the top. Be a star. Reach the top. Be a millionaire. Have a perfect life with a perfect gorgeous mate that chose you, or you chose them out of 10 or 20 other gorgeous perfect people who were competing to be your mate. Live in a perfect house where it's perfectly gorgeous, all the time. Rise to the TOP of something, even if it's making food!

We're old, fat, and painfully ordinary. And we haven't really accomplished very much. According to this cosmos. This world.

God's kingdom runs to a different standard. We don't need to be scrambling, clawing our way to the top, because He's at the top. We were made to worship Him! This world has everything upside down and backwards.

So, think about it. The people at the bottom of what this world says is important, are closer to God's kingdom than all the rich and famous people that the world thinks are at the top.

In fact, Jesus just shakes His head and says, how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!

Luke 19:23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."…

This worlds rich . . are polar opposite of those who are rich in the Kingdom of God. The richer you are, the farther you are away from God's kingdom.

There's a spiritual principal at work here and Jesus is consistent. Remember in Luke's gospel when He goes into the synagogue at Nazareth, and the attendant hands him the book of Isaiah. His choice. He can open it and read anywhere in Isaiah. He could have gone right to ch. 53 and read about the suffering servant. Or ch. 5, the vineyard. Isaiah is just loaded!


The rich don't need the gospel. They've scratched their way to the top. They've got it all. And their favorite song is "I did it my way". That song gives me the willys.

We've got it all in America. It's hard to find anyone who is spiritually poor. We are the spiritually numb. Drugged out of our minds, spiritually.

The gospel is a tough sell in America. Even the people who don't have anything, have got everything. Sheesh, the government will buy it for you. Find me a house in the ghetto that doesn't have 2 cars and a 78" TV on the wall.

Who thinks that happened by accident. It makes it tough to preach the gospel. Nobody needs it. Nobody wants it. Nobody cares less about it. Nobody feels their spirit inside them. Spiritually, in America, we're like an animal that has been rendered helpless by one of those darts that puts their nervous systems to sleep.

There has never been a time when Jesus words here are more polar opposite of the world we live in than now.

If Jesus came to America in 2014, who would he preach to? An entire nation of people who are 100% out from what He lays down as fertile soil for the gospel. It gives a whole new meaning to "God Bless America"

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Lk. 18:9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11“The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Spiritual bankruptcy is someone who understands something of the extent of the offence that we are to God, and the debt that is un-payable.

Jesus says, That's a good place. Blessed are you who understand that you have committed violence toward a Holy God and you are destitute to do anything, anything at all, to fix or repay the damage.

The pharisee wakes up every day and thinks, you know, God should count himself lucky to have someone like me on his side.

He isn't spiritually bankrupt. At least not in his own estimation. He has a spiritual bank account and god owes him quite a lot, in fact more than almost anybody else except maybe a few other pharisees. He has a list of account receivables that god actually owes him for all of his righteousness.

The tax collector wakes up and says the mountain of sin that's crushing me got even larger yesterday. I can't repay. I have nothing but filth to offer. God have mercy on me.

Blessed, this is an ultimate blessed, a sometimes unrealized in this life blessed, but not always. The bottom line is we're here 5 minutes and we wither and we're gone. God is gracious and mostly, mostly we are very blessed right here and now, but that isn't the promise. This is an eternal well being. Eternal happiness.

Psalm 16:11 blessed; 11You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

The world looks on and says; Rediculous are the poor in spirit. Eat drink and be merry! Get some gusto! There is no pie in the sky! Stupid are the poor in spirit.

If we begin to understand Jesus words here, our reaction should be the same as it was last week. Then Who Can Be Saved?

This is an impossible demand. In a fallen world, we're watching every TV show and dreaming how it would be to be even richer in spirit than we already are. What Jesus says is impossible.

That's right, but praise God, He does heart work in people and makes them candidates for His kingdom. Otherwise, this room would be empty.

3“Happy are the poor in spirit, for of them is the kingdom of heaven.

People in the kingdom of heaven are not rock stars. They aren't billionaires. They aren't rich or famous. They are spiritually bankrupt, they cried out to God because of it, and He saved them.

As I was thinking of these things and how to illustrate what spiritual poverty means, the story of Naaman the Syrian kept coming back to me.

Naaman's problem was that he was the opposite of spiritually destitute. Proud! Highly esteemed Naaman! Warrior! Second only to the King in Aram. And yet he's got a problem only God can solve.

1Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. 2Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” 5Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.

6He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

8It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”

11But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12“Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

When Naaman was rich, he had leprosy. When he became poor, he was healed. And that's how God does it.

Elisha doesn't even go out of the house. He sends his servant out. Go dip seven times in the Jordan.

Naaman can't be made clean until he comes down off of that pedestal he's put himself on.


Happy are the spiritually destitute, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What was Satan's original bad act that got him and a third of the angels tossed out of heaven?

Isa 14: 13“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.

14‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

15“Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,
To the recesses of the pit.

16“Those who see you will gaze at you,
They will ponder over you, saying,
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,

17Who made the world like a wilderness
And overthrew its cities,
Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’

Humility. Poverty of spirit. Polar opposite of Satan. God will not tolerate competition. Every challenger who would be God instead of God will be in Sheol with Satan.

Happiness is not out of reach. It just isn't where our fallen natures go to find it. In fact it's so distant from where we would naturally go look, that without God drawing us to Himself, none of us would be saved.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

(mak-ar'-ee-os) Happy! Satisfied! are those who (pen-theh'-o) mourn.

This is an interesting word. In the Strongs definition it says; /penthéō ("mourn over a death") refers to "manifested grief" (WS, 360) – so severe it takes possession of a person and cannot be hid. Convulsing greif.

In Revelation 18 the word is used and the people there are wailing. Alas! Alas!

This is a broken hearted sadness that is not contained.

So for all the folks who are wearing themselves out looking for a contradiction in the bible, here it is. Happy are the ones who are so broken-hearted that they're wailing. Happy are the sad!

There's a logical connection here with the first beatitude. Blessed are the poor in Spirit. The reason you're poor in spirit is because you're a fish out of water in this world. You realize you're a helpless lost sinner.

You were made for fellowship with God and worship of God, and the link is broken.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

If the lights come on and you understand that verse, that should make you mourn. And if it does, happy are you!

God is ready to comfort those who mourn over their sinfulness.

There's an incident and parable recorded in Luke that illustrates this 2nd beatitude better than I could ever explain it.

Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”40And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee.” And he replied, “Say on, Master.” 41“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42“When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45“You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46“You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

Again, this is not where the world is at. We're so thrilled about our sin that we brag about it. We tell anyone who will listen. We trade stories at the water cooler about our sin, and the guy who's listening is thinking of a bigger sin he can tell about next.

God created us to worship Him. We don't! We don't. Our hearts should be shattered just at the thought of that.