top of page

Sermon Notes
January 29, 2023

Many of Jesus' teachings illustrate the contrast between those who live according to the ways of God and those who do not. Quite often, Jesus used the Pharisees as the "bad example." I want to talk about the first Beatitude in this light.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: These are those who are repentant, and who recognize their need for a Savior. To be poor in spirit is to be humble. This is the starting point of the Christian life. In contrast, the Pharisees did not display repentance or humility. John the Baptist called them out on this when he said to them "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father.'" They thought that because they were physical descendants of Abraham, they were guaranteed a place in heaven. In Matthew 23, Jesus said to them "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrits! outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?" In His teachings, Jesus makes a clear distinction between those who follow the ways of God and those who follow the ways of the world. The Pharisees were the religious leaders and the teachers in Jesus' day—but they were of the "world." In John 8:44, Jesus said to them "you are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father." But Jesus encourages His disciples with the assurance that God's kingdom belongs to us when He says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The Christian life is not always an easy one. Sometimes it's hard to not follow the ways of the world in which we live. It's almost impossible to escape its evil influences, and life these days can be very discouraging. But if we take our discipleship of Jesus seriously, if we allow Jesus' words to encourage and strengthen us, we will be able to resist the temptations of this world and live according to the ways and wisdom of God. Seek first the kingdom of God—and rest assured that He is there to watch over and take care of you.

bottom of page