Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Matthew's emphasis on the "poor in spirit" is a likely modification because it would be less offensive to people. Anyone could consider himself poor in spirit and thus a potential inheritor of the kingdom of God but the plain word "poor" could only refer to the have-nots.
Jesus promised that they would inherit the kingdom while the rich would suffer a reversal. "Woe to you that are rich," he said, "for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep."
We can see why Jesus didn't gain any friends among the Sadducees because they enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Roman officials. Most of Christ's followers were working class people, though it is possible that Matthew, the former tax collector, possessed considerable resources.
The way things were in the 1st century Palestine, wealth was often gained through questionable means. Has that changed? The Roman authorities were most helpful in acquiring valuable properties or in evading the tax collector. In order to make it big, a person had to compromise his integrity to the point where moral values ceased to mean anything."
From Jesus and the Poor, Luke 6:17-26, preached January 17, 1971, in Hanover, Massachusetts.
The Rev. W. Roscoe Riley is my father-in-law and is an amazing man.
And there's lots more where that came from: