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Blessed: Poor In Spirit
Matthew 5:1–12 (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
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.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel.” Exodus 19:3 (NIV)
...revolutionary good news of the Kingdom…
“the kingdom of heaven has come near”
This is an announcement, not a philosophical analysis of the world. It’s about something that’s starting to happen, not about a general truth of life. It is gospel: good news, not good advice…The life of heaven – the life of the realm where God is already king – is to become the place of the world, transforming the present ‘earth’ into a place of beauty and delight that God always intended. And those who follow Jesus are to begin to live by this rule here and now. They [the beatitudes] are a summons to live in the present
in the way that will make sense in God’s promised future; because that future has arrived in the present in Jesus of Nazareth. It may seem upside down, but we are called to believe, with great daring, that it is in fact the right way up. Try it and see. Matthew for Everyone, N.T. Wright
...beginning with the poor in spirit.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. Matthew 5:3 (The Message)
The invitation of Jesus (Matthew 4:12-25)
- Jesus goes to the unlikely ordinary places (Galilee).
- Jesus pursues his disciples—going to where they are (walking beside the sea).
- Jesus (a great light) gives disciples a purpose (fish for people… the light of the world).
- Jesus invites us personally (come follow me), as we journey together as a people (His disciples came to him).
Small Group Questions
CONNECT WITH GOD
Listening to God through Lectio Divina (10-15 minutes)
Alone: In a posture of stillness and openness, come to God with the intention to listen to God’s voice through the reading of Matthew 5:1-12. Be prepared to read the passage 3 times. As a new way of practicing Lectio Divina, choose three different Bible translations and read each translation once.
Begin with the NIV version of Matthew 5:1-12
For your second reading, choose the Message version
For your third and final reading, choose the NRSV version
Quiet yourself and find a physical or emotional posture that prepares you to listen—to really listen—for God. Do whatever it is you need to do to be still and ready yourself to receive God’s presence.
Read and Listen
When you are ready, begin by slowly reading Matthew 5:1-12. Read slowly, patiently, and expectantly. Let listening be your only goal. Pay attention to any words, images, or phrases that draw you in or catch your attention. Read the passage three times over, in the three suggested Bible versions above.
Next, choose one phrase (or image, idea, or word) that most captured your attention. Hold that word or phrase, meditating on it, and repeating it over and over again. What thoughts, feelings, or memories come to mind? How does it connect to your life? Give pause and attention to that word. As your mind wanders, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give it to God and begin again.
Turn towards God in prayer and tell God about that word or phrase. Be honest while remaining open to what God is saying as you pray. How is God using this word or phrase to draw you nearer to God and transform you?
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
- Together: Read Matthew 5:1-12 in the Bible translation of your group’s choice.
- After you have read, reflect with a partner on the passage, sharing your personal reflections from the Lectio Divina practice and considering the prompts and questions below.
- What stands out to you in the Beatitudes overall (Matthew 5:1-12)?
- What images, memories, or questions are stirred in you as you read verse 3?
- Which translation resonated with you, and why?
- Discuss together as a whole group.
CONNECT WITH SCRIPTURE (Read the passages and review the sermon outline. Then select the best questions or customize the questions for your group)
- Read the main points from the sermon outline.
- How is the word blessed used in our society?
- How does Jesus describe being blessed?
- To whom does the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ belong?
- Compare and contrast together Moses in Exodus 19:1-9 and Jesus in Matthew 5.
- What new perspective has taken shape as you reflect on the scripture, the message, and your time in small group this week?
CONNECT WITH GOD’S MISSION IN THE WORLD (select one prompt/question for discussion)
- Why is Matthew 5:1-12 good news to the people who are hearing it?
- What does Matthew 5:1-12--and specifically Matthew 5:3 this week—teach us about God’s priorities in the world?
Pray together that God might do a new work in your own heart and challenge you to open up your whole self to the good news of God’s kingdom right here and right now. Pray that the upside-downness of the Kingdom of Heaven may draw you in and transform your life, our life together, and the world.
Food for Thought: “The word blessing is there to mean the ability to sync up our real lives with an experience of God’s time and approval. So, we can bless …everything… not just the moments where we have it all together.”
- Kate Bowler, Instagram reel thoughts on her book Blessed.