Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaching forms a chiastic structure:
Mat 5:1-8:1, the Sermon on the Mount
1a) Mat 5:1, Seeing the multitudes He went up on a mountain;
1b) Mat 5:2, Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying;
1c) Mat 5:3-16, Blessed are the true children;
1d) Mat 5:17-20, I did not come to destroy the Law or Prophets but I am the fulfillment of them;
1e) Mat 5:21-48, Teaching on fulfilling the Law from the heart;
1f) Mat 6:1-34, Do not be a hypocrite in your doings + Do not covet (do not worry);
central axis) Mat 7:1-5, Condemn not;
2f) Mat 7:6-11, Do not give what is holy to dogs + ask, seek, knock;
2e) Mat 7:12a, Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them;
2d) Mat 7:12b, For this is the Law and the Prophets;
2c) Mat 7:13-27, Beware of false prophets;
2b) Mat 7:28-29, The people were astonished at His teaching;
2a) Mat 8:1, When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
Meditating on the matching pairs of this structure is so instructive! The Sermon on the Mount is revealing to us, that those who do the will of the Father are the true children of the Father. This is how we identify them. True children are blessed in being contrite in spirit; they mourn over their sins and weaknesses; they are meek; and hungry to see righteousness accomplished in their own lives. They extend mercy and forgiveness to others; they are pure, not vile, and seek peace and pursue it. True children are persecuted because they are these things from the heart.
In many Bibles, Mat 5:3 is translated “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We need to look at the Greek phrase with our Hebrew worldview glasses that Jesus was teaching from:
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psa 34:18
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. Psa 51:17
For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa 57:15
For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.” Isa 66:2
These passages from the Hebrew Scriptures is is how I believe Jesus means “poor in spirit” in Mat 5:3. To be of a poor or contrite spirit, means to recognize the condition of our spirit, that we are in need, that we have sinned, that we need a Savior. That our own efforts to make ourselves acceptable to God by obedience to Torah have fallen short, thus we are contrite, not arrogant and prideful, secure in our self- righteousness, as perhaps the Pharisees were, or resentful of God’s authority and right to give commands, and shaking our fist in His face.
To be continued …