"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
How many times have you heard this familiar Scripture? Have you ever contemplated --- I mean really meditated on what Jesus was telling those who surrounded him on the Mount of Olives? I can tell you that in all my years in Church, I never had it adequately explained to me. It was always condensed to a simple interpretation; something like this: "God blesses the humble and opposes the proud." But in these last few years, as God, through the Holy Spirit, has been responding to my desire to know more of Him, I have grown in my understanding of this most important verse.
First of all, what has become known as The Sermon on the Mount, or The Olivet Discourse, was in all likelihood, a time of instruction from Jesus to His disciples. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him... It is thought that Jesus moved away from the multitudes, up on the mountain, in order to teach His disciples. And it was normal for a rabbi or teacher to be seated when he instructed his students. The crowds simply followed Him and gathered round as He taught the disciples.
Now, we get to the meat of our Scripture ... Blessed are the poor in spirit ... At the center of Man's sinful nature is the desire to possess "things". In fact, the human heart longs to possess all the things we think will make us rich by the world's standards. Remember all the parables Jesus told about possessing wealth? Remember the Rich Young Ruler who asked what he needed to do to obtain eternal life? Jesus told him to sell all his goods and he would have treasure in heaven.
Then there was the Rich Fool who was so preoccupied with storing up his wealth; accumulating more and building bigger barns to store it, that he got lax in restoring his soul. The lesson was clear: he may have been rich in worldly terms, but he was poor in heavenly terms.
In essence, this simple verse of Matthew 5:3 is turning man's human understanding on its ear! Jesus is turning their understanding of what constitutes wealth inside out! For theirs is the kingdom of heaven ... He is teaching His disciples, and telling the multitudes who have come to hear His wisdom, that real treasure is not measured by earthly benchmarks, which are fleeting and meaningless when you die; but true treasure is measured by your spiritual possessions and is forever eternal. How much richer than all the billionaires on earth, are we, who possess the knowledge of a Faithful, Merciful and Loving Father? Without the knowledge of God, those billionaires have everything their hearts desire ... yet they possess nothing.
I may be poor (in the world's eyes), possessing nothing but spiritual blessings. But what my heart covets cannot be bought here on earth. It was paid for on the Cross, and one day, I will receive the treasure I long for --- to worship at the throne of my Living Savior!