Perhaps you heard about the man in Australia who offered up his life for auction on e—bay. He threw in his house, all its furnishings, his car and even his job to whoever who bid the most. He was asking for $400,000.
Twenty-four year old Walter Scott went one step further—he offered up his soul for bid on the New Zealand auction site “TradeMe.” Walter described his soul as a “merry-old one”
Mr. Scott noted that he had been thinking about selling it for some time since, “I can’t see it, touch it or feel it, but I can sell it—so, I’m going to palm it off on the highest bidder.” Walter described his soul as a “pretty good nick” except for a rough patch six years ago when he started drinking. He concluded by noting that the winner would receive a framed deed of “soul ownership.” In a moment, I’ll let you know what his soul fetched.
As our economy worsens, I’m sure we will see many things that have never crossed our minds, or the minds of our countrymen. Last month, I saw an ad from a woman trying to sell her house in a dismal market. She offered herself as a wife to any man who purchased the house. When people become desperate, they quickly forget how very valuable they are. When they have lost all knowledge of their worth, they will sell themselves for almost anything.
Jesus arrival on earth was the loudest declaration heaven could make about man’s value to God. In sending His very best, His very own, His own beloved, God declares “You are priceless.” So then, why is the first blessing to come impoverished in Spirit?
The First Blessing
As Jesus began his ministry, he stood upon the green hills beside the Sea of Galilee. He began to speak to the crowd that crowded close to hear him. His first words were, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 5:1)
Now if a salesman were to declare they knew a great secret that would bring unlimited wealth and a royal place in a great kingdom to all who learned it, how many would flock to hear? Would there be a stadium large enough in America to hold those who would come? And, how much would someone pay to possess this secret?
Jesus told all that gathered that day, and all that have read his words since, that the secret of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven was to come to Him, poor in spirit. What a strange thing to say! Were a 100,000 people gathered in a stadium to hear the secret, and Jesus said those simple words, how many would stay and continue to listen to the rest of his message? Or, is it more likely, people would throw up their hands in disgust and walk away believing they had wasted their time.
Yet, in the Christian church, are there many who come with the spirit of poverty when they approach the King of Heaven. As many seek any blessing that might bring wealth or ease, why is this blessing—the first blessing—so overlooked?
The Stumbling Block
As believers, it is not enough to honor Jesus as “teacher”, or to base our relationship with Him as teacher-to-student. If we do, we will find that His words are too hard and impossible to fulfill. The words of Jesus produce despair in those who will not humble their hearts and receive Him.
Indeed one prominent politician recently said, “And even if we did have only Christians within our borders, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage so radical that it’s doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application? “
Indeed, the Sermon on the Mount is quite radical, yet for a reason that escapes the bright Senator. It is because to be poor in spirit is to admit our great need of God. When we know Jesus as teacher, we can dispute with Him using our own reason. When He is both teacher and Lord, we must either accept all or reject all.
Oswald Chambers notes: “The Sermon on the Mount produces despair in natural man—the very thing that Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle.”
The foundation principle in the Kingdom of God is to know that we come to Jesus in poverty, not possessions. We confess we cannot begin to do what Jesus asks and it is then we hear from Him, “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” In this state, we begin to receive the first and great blessing—-the Kingdom of Heaven.
Back to Walter Scott; the final offer for his soul was $189. He is a human being impoverished by his ignorance of his worth. The believer, who is poor in Spirit, finds in their poverty they inherit far more than they could ever ask for—a place at the banquet table and rightful heir to all Jesus promised us.