I am needy; I admit it. However, saying I’m needy isn’t belittling myself, it’s exactly what Jesus said we should be. Today we begin a new series, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matt. 5-8. We’ll take the subjects of this relevant discourse and break them down into bite-sized chunks as we learn kingdom living from the greatest Teacher of all time.
Matthew is the only gospel writer to record this sermon and begins it with a statement that ‘He opened His mouth and taught them saying…’ I was struck by that detail. Why wouldn’t Matthew just write, ‘He taught them saying…’ ? As I studied and prayed I realized that Matthew, who was writing to a Jewish audience, was pointing those of us who would catch it, to Moses. Let’s dig a little deeper into God’s Word.
Here’s the story. Moses is commanded by God in Ex. 4:10-17 to go to the wicked Pharaoh and speak to him. Moses is afraid, unsure of himself, and argues with God. Never a good idea. God finally relents as Moses pleads with Him but says something enlightening for our study. God tells Moses and Aaron, who will both speak for Him, that He will put the words in their mouths and teach them both what to do. Here’s the clincher, “and you shall be as God to him (Pharaoh).” Wow, their Spirit-driven words will be filled with God’s authority and power. I think that’s exactly what we see in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew wanted to begin his account by reminding the Jewish listeners that This Man will be like Moses who spoke mouth-to-mouth with God (Num. 12:8). This Man will be ‘That Prophet’ that the Torah spoke about in Dt. 18:18; the One for whom the Jewish people were waiting. Jesus was That Man.
Since we have some background let’s look at the Beatitudes, the beginning place of the Sermon. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Right from the start we have that word ‘blessing’ again. Last week I mentioned that there were two words for blessing in the Bible. This word makarios means to call someone fortunate, privileged, or favored. You are blessed if you are …. is what the Beatitudes are teaching.
What is poor in spirit? It’s a poverty mentality that virtually says, “I need you, Lord.” I become a needy person who has no hope of his own outside of God. I am totally dependent on God: I’ve become high maintenance. This is our entrance level into the kingdom of heaven. Kingdom living begins with a heart-attitude of being spiritually depleted without Him and it’s a good place to remain. When you have no other hope in life, not yourself, not your spouse, not your job, not your intelligence or creativity; you become a needy person. Join us needy people and you also will be called blessed; others will want to know, as they watch your life, just how you do it.