Blessed Good Friday, Ye Poor in Spirit

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

by Rick Campanelli

It is Good Friday.

Good Friday helps us contemplate what it means to be poor in spirit because whatever we may think it means, on Good Friday, God himself demonstrated it: He chose to enter into our poverty, by becoming poor in spirit for us. And in demonstrating that trait, He became the blessing, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

  • Jesus, "in whom all the fulness of God dwells" (Col. 2:9), chose to go to the cross where he would cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
  • The One in whom "all things all things were created, through Him and for Him" (Col. 1.16) embraced this path of utter poverty, saying just the prior evening, "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour."
  • The One who is "before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1.17) and "was in the form of God," yet "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:6, 9).

To me, this hymn, Go to Dark Gethsemane, so well expresses the Gracious Poverty He entered out of inexplicable love for us:

Go to dark Gethsemane,
 You who feel the tempter's pow'r;
 Your Redeemer's conflict see;
 Watch with Him one bitter hour;
 Turn not from His griefs away;
 Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

Follow to the judgment hall;
 View the Lord of life arraigned;
 O the worm-wood and the gall!
 O the pangs His soul sustained!
 Shun not suff'ring, shame, or loss;
 Learn of Him to bear the cross.

Calv'ry's mournful mountain climb
 There' adoring at His feet,
 Mark the miracle of time,
 God's own sacrifice complete:
 "It is finished!" Hear the cry;
 Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb
 Where they laid his breathless clay;
 All is solitude and gloom;
 Who hath taken Him away?
 Christ is ris'n! He meets our eyes:
 Savior, teach us so to rise.

So, in light of Good Friday and this Holy Weekend, let’s consider these questions:

  • What does it mean, personally, that Jesus became poor in spirit for me? How can we help each other grow in appreciating His love, which caused Him to enter into this poverty for us?
  • When – even now – have we each been poor in spirit? How has Jesus met you there? Have we grown in experience or vision that "ours is the kingdom of heaven"? Can you take a few minutes to pause, recall, and jot down times when Jesus has met you in your poverty and how He met you? When Jesus met us in our poverty, did we grow in the experience of the vision and promise that "ours is the kingdom of heaven"? 
  • Has experiencing your own poverty, and knowing that Jesus has met us there and that ours is the kingdom of heaven, made me more desirous of being a blessing to others who are poor in spirit? How so?

Happy Easter! May we all grow in the last words of the hymn,

"Christ is ris’n – He meets our eyes: Savior, teach us so to rise."


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Rick Campanelli is teaching at the University of Virgiina Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He has extensive leadership experience in private law practice, industry, the nonprofit sector, and in government service at the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services, Justice, and State. He also seves on the CLS board of directors.