Happy Are Those Who Are Poor in Spirit – A Few Reflections and A Prayer

The Sermon on the Mount describes what human life and human community looks like when they come under the gracious rule of King Jesus… Still today the indispensable condition of receiving the kingdom of God is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty… Thus, to be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God…

Right at the beginning of his sermon, Jesus contradicts all human judgments and all nationalistic expectations of the kingdom of God. The kingdom is given to the poor, not the rich; the feeble, not the mighty; to little children humble enough to accept it, not to soldiers who boast that they can obtain it by their own prowess.     – John Stott

We are beggars. This is true!                                                               –  Martin Luther

The kingdom of God can only be received by empty hands. Jesus warns against two things: worldly self-sufficiency which leads you to trust yourself and your own resources so that you don’t need God; and religious self-sufficiency where you trust your religious attitude and moral life and don’t need Jesus.           – Michael Crosby

He only who is reduced to nothing in himself, and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit. – John Calvin

Blessed are the spiritual zeros – the spiritually bankrupt, deprived and deficient, the spiritual beggars, those without a wisp of religion – when the kingdom of heaven comes upon them.                                                                                      – Dallas Willard

King Jesus, You have blessed us by causing us to see our need of You. Thank You for making us members of Your heavenly kingdom. But we continue to drink too deeply of the haughty, self-assertive, and self-sufficient disposition that the world so much admires and praises. We resist Your kingship and refuse to bow to Your lordship.We confess that too often we covet the honor and riches of the mighty. We ask Your forgiveness for the times that we have been proud and unmerciful to those we considered less fortunate than ourselves. Keep us ever mindful of our spiritual poverty and of Your amazing grace and liberating gospel that saves us from the power of sin in our daily lives. AMEN.

What is your answer to the Tenebrae Question?

During our Good Friday service, we always conclude with what is called the Tenebrae hymn: “Were You There.” Tenebrae is a Latin word that means ‘shadows’ or ‘darkness.’ It refers to a distinctive worship service that involves the gradual extinguishing of candles while reading the psalms and gospel narratives that explicitly set forth Jesus’ sufferings and death.

John Stott in his insightful book The Cross of Christ, writes: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Yes, we were there.  Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified…There is blood on our hands.  Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).  Only the one who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace. (p.60).