Blessed are Those Who Mourn
February 5, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Note: This is part 2 of an 8 part series reflecting on the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. These values of the Kingdom of God are also values of our church. How do our values shape who we are and what we do?
Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Everyone wants to be happy. Who doesn’t? We live at a time when people are obsessed with happiness. It becomes the defining line for fulfillment. Therefore we have a whole multi-billion dollar industry devoted to making people happy. Yet, Jesus commends those who mourn. How does this fit? Does Jesus want his followers to be mopey and downcast? What about the abundant life?
This second Beatitude is intertwined with the first, “Blessed at the poor in spirit.” We saw last week that poverty in spirit is the realistic assessment of our spiritual bankruptcy before a holy and just God. We are beggars before God. Why? Our sin is absolutely heinous before God and has corrupted our entire being. By our sinful nature we are children deserving the wrath of God. All of our efforts, on our own, are filthy rags before God.
Those who mourn are those who begin to comprehend the wretchedness of their sin and grieve over their personal sin. Much like Isaiah during his vision of the holiness of God in the temple (Is. 6), the Christian ought to bewail the uncleanness of his sin. This mourning is not a groveling self-pity, but a God-centered, God-exalting grief over personal sin. Sin is no laughing matter.
There is another, more broad, aspect of this mourning Jesus commends. The followers of Christ, who have tasted of and seen the goodness and joy of the Lord, grieve over the effects of sin on all of creation (cf. Rom. 8:23). From natural disasters to corrupt governments to terrorism to injustices, the pervasiveness of sin’s impact is evident. The followers of Christ do not ignore the pains of the world in their pursuit of a “better life” now. D.A. Carson says, “The Christian is to be the truest realist…. The man who lives in light of [realities], and rightly assesses himself and his world in the light of them, cannot but mourn.”
The promise for those who mourn is comfort. This comfort is twofold:
1. The comfort provided in Christ by his atoning sacrifice on the cross to remove the guilt and power of our sin. As David says in Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
2. The comfort promised in the new heavens and new earth, where sin and death are no more. As John records in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
It is here that we see the distinct difference between those who follow Christ and those who follow the world. The Christian is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). While the Christian is a realist about sin and its effects, he has the greatest reasons to be joyful. The followers of the world, if they want to be happy, struggle with what to do with the pains of the world.
May you and our church be marked by sorrow over sin and yet known for our great joy in God’s work for us through Christ.