Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.Luke 6:20
You who are poor are the recipients of divine favour for the kingdom of God is yours. The word for poor is ptochos which means “begging” or to be dependent on others for support. It also means poor, destitute, or to be in need. Notice how perfectly it fits the disciples new situation. They are indeed now ptochos, in need and dependent on others for support. That is exactly the situation they find themselves in now. Indeed to have given up their means of support ushers in a doorway to the blessing of God. The words don’t mean that poverty is a blessing to everyone because when you think about it that is just not true. While some are blessed by poverty it can’t be said of everyone. The blessing you may derive from poverty depends on your attitude to it. But to the disciples it is a blessing because it ensured their on-going dependence on God and that certainly was a blessing.
Matthew’s version has a slightly different spin on it. The ones who recognize they are poor in spirit open themselves up to entry into the Kingdom of God. Realising or admitting that you are poor in spiritual ways means that you recognize your state and are more likely to depend on God to be your salvation. The disciples, although not considered rich people, they were not poor either. They were manual workers. Some considered these kinds of people among the poor. Jesus is saying to them that theirs is the treasure of heaven. They may not be rich in this life but if they recognize their true state spiritually they will become rich in the things of God, the treasures of heaven will be theirs.
Interesting isn’t it, if we recognize our state and confess it then our need will be met. A certain pride comes to the fore if someone were to describe us as “poor” or “needy”. We don’t like other people to know that we don’t have enough money “to make ends meet”. We would do anything to avoid being considered poor. Just as in natural things so too in spiritual things. We do anything to avoid confessing the true state of our soul or spirit. These two human situations are alike. We don’t like to be considered dependent on other people. In the same way we will go to any lengths to avoid it in terms of money and material wealth, so too or even more so we avoid it spiritually.
The other thing to note about this verse is that the context is present tense. All the other beatitudes are future tense but this one is present. This is not a promise but a statement of fact. The disciples are experiencing this “now”. Just days before hearing this sermon they were on the verge of gleaning in the fields. Gleaning means you could pick up the grain that had fallen to the ground; the so called waste grain on the ground. The poor could gather that and take it home. The hand full of grain “gathered on run” I talked about a few Gems ago (Bible Gems 826) that is was allowable but was not permitted to be gathered while standing still. It was something that was allowed in passing. The disciples were now in this predicament. On the verge of being thought to be poor and destitute, I am sure they resisted it with all their might. There is something that rises up within us to declare “I am not going to be be dependent on another”. But that is the plight of a true disciple of Jesus. You must recognize your need and cast yourself on God to provide. There is a parallel here between the natural principle of poverty and confessing your need in material things and when it comes to spiritual things.
I know hundreds of people who have left all to follow Him. Not the least of which is a dear friend who before Bible College years was working as a chef. Russ was offered the top job with the Tourist Hotel Corporation at one of the best hotels in NZ. But he told them no he wasn’t going to take it but rather was going to Bible College and then on to serve the Lord somewhere overseas. They said “No, Russ, you don’t understand, we are offering you the top job in the land. You can name your price.” He said, “No you don’t understand. The amount of money doesn’t hold the power. I am going to Bible College.” It’s crazy isn’t it, to turn your back on all that wealth? No it isn’t. It is more real and more certain than life itself, but it normally has a future component to it. Not in this case. The disciples were in the midst of the reality of it right at that moment.
Yes blessed are you who have learned the difference and therefore the secret between worldly wealth and the riches of kingdom of heaven. It teaches one to hold loosely to worldly wealth and to cherish beyond measure the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. Above all, the lessons we learn about His provision for us and our own human heart.
There’s much more to say but I have to stop.
A poor man is not that one without a cent. A poor man is that one without a dream.Henry Ford
I would say a poor man is not that one without a cent but the one without God.Ian Vail
You regularly trust power you cannot see to do work you cannot accomplish. Jesus invites you to do the same with Him.Max Lucado
A faith that hasn’t been tested, can’t be trusted.Anon
God won’t trust long-term blessings to short-term people.J. Snyder