What Does "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit" Mean (Matthew 5:3)?

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

The following is a transcript of Barbara Juliani in the video below:

When Jesus sat down to talk to people, He was giving them a vision for what life was to be like in the kingdom of God. It was very different then anybody had ever thought. He took every command from the Old Testament, and He deepened it and made it about what was really going on inside you.

But it's very interesting the way He starts. He starts, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven," and the word there for poor in spirit is actually a word for a beggar on the street. The sense is somebody who has nothing and knows it. What He's really saying there is that the way into the kingdom of Heaven is to know that you have nothing, and sadly, most of us don't think that. Most of think that we have something, and that is what keeps us from the kingdom of Heaven, all those things that we think that we have. What Jesus is calling us to is something completely differently. It's not self-sufficiency, or self-reliance, or neatening ourselves up so that we can part of the kingdom of God and that we can be a follower of Christ. It's really saying, "I have nothing in myself to do any of these things. I can't follow Christ on my own. I can't love my neighbor. I can't love my enemies. I can't keep my word," all those things that come in the Sermon on the Mount. The entrance is to say, "I have nothing. I need Christ for this."

Meaning of "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit"

The following is a transcript of Johnnie Moore in the video below:

It's interesting that Jesus sets the stage with the Beatitudes. He says you can be happy if, essentially. But then He begins with an antithetical type of idea. He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Not blessed or happy are those who are uplifted in spirit. Those whose bank account is full, those whose face is filled with a smile. Those whose shoulders and head are held high. He said, "Blessed are those who are poor in spirit."

So it's interesting that from the very beginning the Beatitudes, He sets the bar low. He's saying this blessing and this happiness that I want to provide to you is a happiness that can be enjoyed even if you are poor in spirit. But what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Well, it means that you're content in your life. It means that if you're poor in your spirit, it means that you're not thirsting and hungering for anything more than where you are. You are contrite with your place in life.

It means that you're not coming to God demanding all the things that God owes you or coming to someone else. It means that you're starting with a real understanding of who you actually are. It's like the Bible says in the Old Testament. It's the Psalmist in fact who said, "that God remembers that we're dust." And so right out of the gate, Jesus reminds us you're dust and it's okay to be dust. And if you're content being dust, then maybe you can be happier than if you're discontent with every part in your life.

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.