Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted
Today we look at the second of the Beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. This is the second blog post on the Beatitudes, Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. The first post on “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” can be found here.
We learned previously that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave his followers the norms for living in His Kingdom. In other words, if you are in the Kingdom your life should look like this. It reminds us that we do not need to be anxious about our lives because God cares for us much more than the sparrows and the flowers of the field (6:25-34). The Sermon on the Mount gives us instruction for prayer (6:5-15), marriage (5:31-32), how to treat others (5:38-6:4), and much more.
He opens His discourse with a series of Beatitudes, simply stating for us that there are blessings to be had in being a part of His Kingdom. The first blessing in verse 3 says: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was telling His listeners that they are to be spiritually bankrupt, realizing that they are utterly dependent on Him for all things. This is the start of our salvation. We come in repentance, recognizing that we are sinful and in need of a gracious Savior. But, praise be to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Those who enter the Kingdom through this poorness of spirit are blessed because they inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. It is theirs in this life and will be fully theirs to enjoy in Christ’s presence when they leave this world.
Blessed When You Mourn
Jesus continues the Beatitudes in verse 4: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Again, we see that we have God’s approval (blessedness) when something is true of our lives. In this case, we see that Christ’s people are blessed when they mourn. This is not some sort of forced somberness that thinks of life in a dreadful way. After all, Christians are to be a people who are always rejoicing (Philippians 4:4).
This mourning is first and foremost a grieving over our sin. John MacArthur (in his sermon entitled “Happy are the Sad”) said it this way:
The issue here is not being sorry because you’re lonely, not being sorry because you’re discouraged, or disappointed, or because you have such an earnest love, or because somebody died. It’s not being sorry because you don’t get what you want. It’s not being sorry because you feel so guilty. It’s being sorry because you’re a sinner. That’s the issue. Such poverty in spirit, beloved, in verse 3 will lead to mourning in verse 4, true mourning over sin. Only the beggar can say, “Woe is me for I am undone.”
Mourning over our own sin is something that arises in our lives because we have been made new people in Christ. Before Christ, we were thieves and drunkards, idolaters and adulterers, but we have been washed and justified and set apart in Jesus name (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But, like the Apostle Paul, we still battle our old man, doing the things that we no longer want to do (Romans 7). Thus, our hearts mourn that we are still sinful and we long for the day when we will be in glory, where the presence of sin will be no more (Revelation 21:4). The mourning that brings blessing into our life is also connected to the state of the world. Our sin is not the only sin in the world and we grieve over the effect that sin has all over the earth. The Christian looks at an ocean of evil that imprisons humanity and aches at seeing its depths. For we know that the pleasures of this world are fleeting and that eternity awaits after this life is over.
You Shall be Comforted
There is a blessing in this type of mourning because it doesn’t end there. The grieving of sin that Jesus is teaching is not a fruitless weeping that sheds tears briefly and yields no change. No, this mourning is fruitful in that it comes from a heart utterly dependent on Christ for all things, full of repentance and it brings comfort because it knows what He has done.
In this life, we have great comfort. We have Jesus Christ who died on a cross, granting forgiveness to all who believe in His name. What comfort to know that we are forgiven!
But there is more…even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for God is with us and His rod and staff comfort us (Psalm 23:4). We know comfort because we have a God full of unfailing love (Psalm 119:76). He is a God of refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). And when Jesus ascended to heaven he left us His Holy Spirit to be an advocate for us in God’s presence (John 14:26).
But, even greater than all these comforts is the one that will be when we see our Savior face to face. Revelation 21:4 says that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrows, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. What comfort we shall be given when we are in His presence and he will wipe the tears we’ve shed over our sin! And no more will we look at the world and lament all the wickedness around us. Instead, we will be in God’s presence, where there will be no more pain.
May these truths encourage you in your week as you mourn, but also as you live joyfully in Christ.