Do we enter the kingdom of heaven through a special portal into an alternate reality like walking through the wardrobe in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or boarding the train to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts?
The short answer is, “yes.”
His name is Jesus.
But there is a secret to actually living in the reality of the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus preached the good news the kingdom of heaven, healed diseases, delivered from demons, and in the process he gained a large following. His followers probably thought back to the glory days of David and Solomon and imagined the kingdom of heaven to be a rise of the nation of Israel. It must have been exciting stuff.
One day, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sat down on a hill and spoke the words that we know as the famous Sermon on the Mount.
He began with, Blessed are…
How would his listeners expected Jesus to finish that statement?
Blessed are…the righteous?
Blessed are…the prosperous?
Blessed are…the Jews?
Blessed are…the powerful?
Imagine their confusion when Jesus declared, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”
The beatitudes are bookended by the phrase, “…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” applied to the poor in spirit (v. 3) and those who are persecuted because of righteousness (v. 10). In between are promised blessings for those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and peacemakers.
This made no sense.
Until Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a stallion and carried a cross instead of a sword.
Maybe it makes no sense to us either, until we realize that the secret to actually living in the kingdom of heaven is to recognize our spiritual poverty before God. Personal righteousness, power, wealth, and fame, all the commodities that the world calls “blessed,” count for nothing in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is the portal through whom we enter the kingdom of heaven.
Righteousness, eternal life, and life in the kingdom are ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When we elevate our Savior and humble ourselves, we are blessed.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
How have you experienced blessings when you recognize that you are poor in spirit? Is it difficult for you to live in the alternate (yet ultimate) reality of the kingdom of God?
Note: This post is inspired by a recent sermon series on the Beatitudes at my church. If you’re interested on some excellent teaching on the subject, you can find it here.