Matthew 5:1-12
Vicar Christopher Stout

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

 If you a poor beggar before God – if you have nothing to offer save the many debts that you owe Him – if you view yourself as undeserving because of your sin and your failures – if you think of yourself as completely dependent upon the God of heaven and earth when it comes to all things, spiritual and physical – blessed are you, for yours is the kingdom of heaven, right now.  How foolish!  How backwards to our thinking!  In this country in which we live, a hard working attitude with a mind toward ingenuity is supposed to give the opportunity for success and money 100% of the time.  It’s the American dream.  It’s been rather successful.  With its success, however, this dream has become a reality in the spiritual realm of this country, too!  Success of churches is often measured by the weekly attendance, the money they gather, the size of their building, rather than faithfulness to the Word of God.  If you have nothing to offer God, then you aren’t digging deep enough.  He needs your works, He needs your worship, give to Him – if you have something to offer, He’ll offer more back, 100% of the time.  That’s still a pretty good exchange rate.  But Jesus speaks a blessing upon you, you spiritually poor and have nothing to offer God except your sin—to you, O, Christian!.  It’s not a conditional blessing, “Blessed are you if you are poor in Spirit”, it’s a descriptive “blessed are you, the poor in spirit.”  It’s not just a future reality, “for you will receive the kingdom of heaven”, it’s a present reality, too, “for yours is, right now, the kingdom of heaven.”


Matthew 5:1-12
Vicar Christopher Stout

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

 If you a poor beggar before God – if you have nothing to offer save the many debts that you owe Him – if you view yourself as undeserving because of your sin and your failures – if you think of yourself as completely dependent upon the God of heaven and earth when it comes to all things, spiritual and physical – blessed are you, for yours is the kingdom of heaven, right now.  How foolish!  How backwards to our thinking!  In this country in which we live, a hard working attitude with a mind toward ingenuity is supposed to give the opportunity for success and money 100% of the time.  It’s the American dream.  It’s been rather successful.  With its success, however, this dream has become a reality in the spiritual realm of this country, too!  Success of churches is often measured by the weekly attendance, the money they gather, the size of their building, rather than faithfulness to the Word of God.  If you have nothing to offer God, then you aren’t digging deep enough.  He needs your works, He needs your worship, give to Him – if you have something to offer, He’ll offer more back, 100% of the time.  That’s still a pretty good exchange rate.  But Jesus speaks a blessing upon you, you spiritually poor and have nothing to offer God except your sin—to you, O, Christian!.  It’s not a conditional blessing, “Blessed are you if you are poor in Spirit”, it’s a descriptive “blessed are you, the poor in spirit.”  It’s not just a future reality, “for you will receive the kingdom of heaven”, it’s a present reality, too, “for yours is, right now, the kingdom of heaven.”

 How tempting, however, it is to hear this and every Word of God as having hidden conditions – small print – a don’t sign until you know the whole story reality to it.  It’s how our flesh thinks and how our world thinks.  Think of the conditions attached to get money from a bank.  “I don’t have any money, so I need to get some money, but you can’t do that unless you have something worth some money.”  There are so many conditions in every aspect of life.  I will get a better job and pay off these ridiculous student loans if I finish college, hopefully.  Your family will be okay if you follow these steps, maybe.  You will get better if you continue to take this nasty-what’s better or worse, these side effects or this illness – medicine, probably.  What “if’s” and conditions do you have that weigh you down?  They can be related to your husband or wife or children or parents or friends or work or studies or health of mind or body, any realm of who you are.  This will happen if you do something too, maybe.

 These are conditions of the fallen human nature.  These are realities in us that tempt us to see God as a conditional God and His love as conditional love.  “Blessed are you if you are poor in spirit.”  Am I?  “Blessed you are if you are merciful.”  Maybe I am, sometimes.  “Blessed are you if you are pure in heart.”  Uh, oh.  He see’s what’s in my heart?  I know I don’t get that blessing!

 Blessed are you, dear Christian, Jesus says.  Blessed are you as the Holy Spirit has led you to recognize how poor in spirit, you are.  God is not a conditional God.  How wearisome this can be when we think that.  “What can I come before the Lord with?  My burnt offering, a thousand burnt offerings, my sinful body to make up the sin of my soul? Micah asks (Micah 6:6-8).”  What can I offer God who created everything and everyone around me?  I’ve got nothing to offer that can top that.

 And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’  A poor beggar with nothing to offer, and one that recognizes that, Jesus opens His mouth and pronounces a blessing upon you.  When God blesses, it does something.  This isn’t a simple word; this is God’s prescriptive, descriptive, do what it says word.  “Blessed are you, dear children.  Your sins are forgiven.  Blessed are you, for in midst of your mourning over your sin, over the death of your loved ones, over your sicknesses, and failures in life I bring you comfort.   Blessed are you, for in this condition stricken life you live I give you mercy and peace, unconditionally.”  Jesus opens His mouth and proclaims to us His present mercy and comfort here as we receive the Kingdom of Heaven in our mouth as His voice proclaims, “this is my body, given for you; this is my blood, shed for you.”  

 This unconditional love for you did have a price – a body given, God’s body given.  The conditions were met by the very Lord who opened the mouth of the prophets to preach about Him.  The conditions were met by the very Lord who opened the mouth of Paul to write, “for Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).  Blessed are the poor in spirit, “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).  On this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us who we are in Him because of what He did on another mount.  On this mount, the true Man who perfectly hungered and thirsted for righteousness, cried out, “I thirst.”  On this mount, the true God who showed perfect mercy was shown no mercy as He carried all our sin, even death itself.  Unconditional love for you shown by the extreme conditions that He voluntarily took up Himself.  We live in a world and in a life where there are so many conditions – so many “if’s”, but there’s no “if’s” before God, for Christ has been crucified with those “if’s.”

 So, blessed are you, dear Baptized.  “But, I don’t feel very blessed.  Look at these struggles I have, look at some of this misery I endure, I don’t seem very blessed.”  But Jesus says, “My Kingdom is not of this world, my dear child.  There’s a present, invisible reality to my eternal blessing for you but there’s also a future visible reality.”  Blessed are you are as Jesus brings you the kingdom of heaven in preaching and bread and wine now to strengthen you until you are fully in His kingdom of peace and grace.  Blessed are you now as you see God through the eyes of faith, because He has promised to be here to give you a foretaste of who He is until you see Him face to face.  So, blessed are you now, dear Baptized, in your temptations and struggles, for God shows mercy now as we wait for His future blessings.  Amen.  

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a