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February 20—Lent Devotional 2013

As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3

Martin Luther died February 18, 1546, in Eisleben, Germany, the same town where he was born. As his life came full circle Luther scribbled his last written words and placed them on his bedside table. Those last few words sum up Luther’s many volumes of words: “We are beggars! That is true.”

Yes, we are beggars! How true! Here is the wondrous mystery: the more miles we follow Jesus, the more we know our spiritual need. Philosopher-theologian Peter Kreeft, in his book, Back to Virtue, writes of spiritual poverty:

“If we come to God with empty hands, he will fill them. If we come with full hands, he finds no place to put himself. It is our beggary, our receptivity, that is our hope”.

The kingdom of this world does not teach or acknowledge our abject spiritual poverty. Nor did “the crowds” that trailed after Jesus! The world’s idea of the blessed life would include: blessed are those who are sure of themselves; blessed are those who are always right; blessed are those who are powerful; blessed are those who are popular; blessed are those who have their lives ‘together’.

This first beatitude describes the person who has heard Jesus’ good news and “changed his mind”, or “repented” (i.e. metanoia, Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Jesus’ message of the kingdom is good news for people who know they are spiritually bankrupt! They live a truly blessed life.

We are beggars! This is true!


Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’”—Luke 4:17-18

  • What feelings stir within you as read Martin Luther’s last written words: “We are beggars. That is true”?
  • What are thoughts as you ponder both Luther’s words and this beatitude?
  • What do you want to say to God about this?

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