Upside-Down Kingdom


Our family was driving home through northern Mexico after spending a week at an orphanage caring for some of the world’s poorest people. My son asked, “Daddy, are we rich or poor?” I paused and thought a moment before I said, “Both, I think, son.” To my young child, who somehow knew that life is not only physical but also spiritual, my strange answer seemed to make total sense.

  • How would you answer my son’s question? Are you poor or rich? Why, and in what ways?


17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21  “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24  “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. How are the people who came to Jesus in verses 18 and 19 described? How were they blessed? 
  2. Who was in the audience, and to whom did Jesus speak specifically (vs. 20)?
  3. How did Jesus describe the way the poor, the hungry, and the hated would be blessed? How does it happen?
  4. What are the warnings to the rich? How are these consequences practically true in life?
  5. If this scene were to happen today, would you be a disciple (a learner and follower) or just someone in the huge crowd? Would you be there to have your need met or to simply watch the show? Are you spiritually rich or poor?


The very rich in this world can also be the poorest of heart as they acknowledge their spiritual condition. Acknowledgement of spiritual poverty will result in mourning over sin, in hunger for righteousness, and in deep sorrow. The promise of a good and gracious Jesus is that mourning will turn to joy in the face of his amazing love and forgiveness. But those that count themselves rich—not just in possessions, but in goodness, in rightness, and in the unique folly of the wealthy (believing themselves to be deserving)—cut themselves off from the blessing of the kingdom reserved for those who see and feel their true spiritual poverty.

  • Ask God to give you eyes to see your sin and a heart that hungers to be clean of sin and more like Jesus.
  • Spend some time confessing your spiritual poverty to Jesus. Ask his forgiveness.
  • Thank God for his forgiveness and rejoice in the mercy of Christ.