Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside, and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
“Upside-down value system!”
Jesus began his “sermon on the mount” with The Beatitudes; Jesus’ own statement of the values that lead to true happiness. This list of attributes is bold, confronting, and at first glance absurd, by our value system. But perhaps that’s just the point. It is a radically different value system that Jesus is promoting.
The greatest rewards in our system seem to go to those who possess lots of things, who know how to celebrate, who get ahead of everyone else. Our system promotes competition, and rewards those who win.
Jesus’ statement suggests that true and lasting happiness begins with poverty of Spirit. “Poverty of spirit is my awareness that I need God’s help and mercy more than I need anything else.” (Jim Forest, “The Ladder of the Beatitudes”, Orbis Books 1999)
Jesus described two men praying in the temple. The religious man stood tall and proud. He explained to God what a good person he was compared to other men. The other man knew he was a sinner. He humbled himself and asked God for mercy. Jesus said the humble sinner was the one who found forgiveness. (Luke 18:9-14)
The “Jesus Prayer” brings us into His kingdom;- ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Geoff Francis is a retired General Practitioner, and the author and editor of this website.