She knew what people thought of her. Whores have eyes; she could see the looks on their faces. She put on a posture and look that said, “Screw you; I don’t care what you think…” But down deep, inside the hard crust that surrounded her heart, she was much harder on herself than they were. Because she knew the worst of what she was really like. And when she came face to face with Jesus, she lost it. She collapsed in tears, clinging to His feet. Imagine her embarrassment to see a mixture of her tears and drool and snot, splattered on His feet. Desperately, she wiped them with her hair…
Jesus had people like her in mind when He said,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
How can that really be true? People who are spiritually bankrupt are blessed? Seriously?
It’s because we live with illusions of reality that are upside down from Jesus’ understanding. When Jesus says “Blessed,” He means, “If you could see what is real and true from My perspective, you would realize that this kind of person is ultimately in a better place.” Sounds ridiculous to us, but when Jesus compared that devastated hooker to a man who was known for being very religious, He held her up as a better example. He was trying to shock people out of their upside down illusions.
Think of it like this: If you are in a race to see who is the fastest and the best, and you are going in the wrong direction, if it looks like you are winning the race, in reality you are losing. Those who have stopped and turned back the other way are the ones who are actually ahead. Jesus knows that people who feel self-righteous, people who think they are doing better than others, are heading in the wrong direction. Turning around spiritually, begins with recognizing how poor in spirit you really are. It amounts to admitting that, on your own, you are in deep trouble. Turning around means recognizing you need Jesus.
Is this really true? Who do you think is most likely to qualify for the kingdom of heaven? Perhaps Billy Graham? What do you think: Is Billy Graham “poor in spirit?” Is he spiritually bankrupt? Most of us would say no, he is rich in spirit. But, if you asked Billy – the guy who knows Billy Graham in his worst moments – he would tell you that there is a good reason that one of his favorite songs is “Just as I am, without one plea…”