Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit, Those Who Mourn And The Meek.
Matthew 5: 3 – 5.
The Beatitudes, the first in a sequence of teachings by Jesus, commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount, epitomised His own character. In that sense, these counter-cultural redemptive qualities are beyond the natural human capacity either to emulate, or a desire to possess them. These Christ-like qualities are only imparted to those who are abiding in Christ. When the Scriptures address the issue of blessedness, it is referring to those who know and keep the Law (c.f., Psalm 1). The flip-side of being blessed is covenantal disobedience, with its outcome of being cursed (Deut 11:26-28). Hence, the Beatitudes reflect who we already are in Christ, as His disciples (Phil 1:6).
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The first Beatitude sets the tone for the rest, as ‘poverty in spirit’ implies a critical awareness of one’s inability to completely fulfil one’s physical and spiritual needs outside of Christ (c.f., Isa 61:1). Therefore, our wilful independence and self-assurance, being the crucial values of the spirit of this age, invariably disqualifies us, if dying to self is not totally embraced in our being (c.f., John 12:24). For to be in Christ is to effectively enable Him to rule in our hearts and minds to the exclusion of our rebellious primal cry for exclusive self-expression. The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican exemplified the eternal posture of a believer towards his Creator (Luke 18:9-14; c.f., Rev 3: 14-22).
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. This second Beatitude follows on from the first, for moral destitution and mourning go hand-in-hand (c.f., Isa 61:2). Our intractable blasé attitude towards sin often remains unchallenged by the One who was smitten of God and afflicted, pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities, chastened for our well-being and by whose scourging we are healed (Isa 53:1-12). By trivialising our sins, we invariably inured ourselves against mourning over it, and forfeit our privilege of walking in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16-25). To truly mourn over our sin against God is to be convicted by His Holy Spirit and to deeply appreciate His sacrifice and triumph at Calvary (1 Cor 15:55-57; Col 2:8-15; c.f., 1 John 1:5-10).
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. In Christ, meekness or gentleness is never about weakness, but humility and a heart that delights in submission to God (c.f., Ps 37). In today’s world, it remains counter-intuitive to expect the earthly powers and dominions to surrender their possessions to the meek, but it seems a reversal is shockingly imminent on the Judgment Day. It is also apparent that the normal human proclivity is the opposite of gentleness, and this is not surprising, when meekness is viewed as innately Christ-like (Matt 11:29-30) and a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16-26). This process of justification and sanctification in conforming to be like Jesus is an intentional life-long course as we allow His Holy Spirit to change us (Phil 2:12-13).