“Mourning” in the Context of Jesus Teaching
The mourning Jesus speaks of in verse 4, is not the same as what we have come to know as bereavement, affliction, or loss. Although it can include the grieving the context and meaning for Jesus teaching is a mourning for our sin – you mourning yours, and me mourning mine.
Nobody’s teaching or preaching like this in our world today.
It is a mourning over the felt responsibility and reality of our true spiritual state of being without a surrender to Jesus; mourning over the sinful behavior and wrong thinking that has all but destroyed our way of living and damaged our spiritual lives and the lives of those we love.
It is a mourning over the very morality and ethics in which we have boasted and custom built for ourselves, the arrogant self-righteousness in which we have trusted; mourning for our rebellion against God, and our defiant hostility to His will.
It is interesting to note that mourning (godly sorrow) always goes hand in hand with a spiritually healthy understanding and meaning for poverty of spirit.
An excellent illustration and contrast for this is found in Luke 18:9-14, and can be paired with Psalms 40:12-17.
First, we are shown a self-righteous Pharisee looking up toward God and saying, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Then we see the tax collector standing far off, who would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but in a moment of clarity and honesty, he became so conscious of the overwhelming amount of corruption within him that he beat his chest and cried out, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ Jesus says of him, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We can pair this with Psalms 40, where the Psalmist, was so troubled by his own iniquities that he too was not able to look up. Psalm 40:12, “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.”
Psalm 40:17 goes on, “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”
Here then are the spiritual birth certificates of the true children of God. The one who has never been poor in spirit or never known the godly sorrow that leads to repentance through a contritemourning for sin, can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God – regardless of belonging to a church or having a title in it.
The true follower of Jesus should be mindful and thankful that God Almighty humbled and lowered Himself to dwell in the broken and contrite heart! This is the wonderful promise made by God even in the Old Testament – by Him in whose sight the heavens are not clean, who cannot find in any temple that man has ever built for Him, however magnificent, a proper dwelling place…
Isaiah 57:15 and 66:2
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
“Blessed are they that mourn.”
The primary reference is to the initial mourning and godly sorrow that is commonly connected with conviction of the Holy Spirit. However, sorrow for sin is certainly not limited only to conviction. The mourning Jesus taught that day by Galilee, is forever characteristic of normal and expected Christian living. It is God’s way of continuously moving us forward away from our flesh and into His Spirit!! That is the journey we want be on – but it requires humility and a conscience and heart turned toward surrender the the ways and values of the Kingdom of God. So, in that context, the truth is that we Christians have a lot to mourn over.
Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am”. The unbelief that “does so easily surround us” Hebrews 12:1, and sins that we commit, which are more in number than the hairs of our head, are and should be a continual grief to us.
It is the process – it is the struggle.
Listen to how the writer of Hebrews admonishes the follower of Christ to embrace the struggle of difficulty and discipline.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
The emptiness and lacking of our lives make us sigh, cry, laugh, shout, curse, repent, wrestle, surrender and ultimately obey. Our propensity to wander from Christ, our lack of communion with Him, and the shallowness of our love for Him should cause us to pause, shake our heads, shed a tear, promise to do better, and make things right, as often as we can. There are many other causes for mourning that assault the heart of a Christian: on every hand hypocritical religion that has a form of godliness while denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5); the awful dishonor done to the truth of God by the false doctrines taught in countless pulpits; the divisiveness among the Lord’s people; conflict and strife between brothers and sisters of faith and the community. The combination of these provides occasion for continual sorrow of heart. The awful wickedness in the world, the despising of Christ, and untold human sufferings make us groan within ourselves. The closer the Christian lives to God, the more he will mourn over all that dishonors Him. This is the common experience of God’s true people (Ps. 119:53; Jer. 13:17; 14:17; Ezek. 9:4).
They shall be comforted…
By these words Christ refers primarily to the removal of the guilt that weighs on the conscience. This is accomplished by the Spirit’s application of the Gospel of God’s grace to one whom He has convicted of his intense need of a Savior. The result is a sense of free and full forgiveness through the benefits of the atoning blood of Christ. This Divine comfort is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), filling the heart of the one who is now assured that he is “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). God wounds before healing, and abases before He exalts. First there is a revelation of His justice and holiness, then the making known of His mercy and grace.
“The words “they shall be comforted” also receive a constant fulfillment in the experience of the Christian. Though the mourner processes through his excuses and failures, confessing them to God, yet he is comforted by the assurance that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses him from all sin (1 John 1:7). Though he groans over the dishonor done to God on every side, yet is he comforted by the knowledge that the day is rapidly approaching when Satan shall be cast into hell forever and when the saints shall reign with the Lord Jesus in “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Though the chastening hand of the Lord is often laid upon him and though “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” (Hebrews 12:11), nevertheless, he is consoled by the realization that this is all working out for him “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Like the Apostle Paul, the believer who is in communion with his Lord can say, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). He may often be called upon to drink of the bitter waters of Marah, but God has planted nearby a tree to sweeten them. Yes, mourning Christians are comforted even now by the Divine Comforter: by the ministrations of His servants, by encouraging words from fellow Christians, and (when these are not to hand) by the precious promises of the Word being brought home in power by the Spirit to their hearts out of the storehouse of their memories.
“They shall be comforted.” The best wine is reserved for the last. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). During the long night of His absence, believers have been called to fellowship with Him who was the Man of Sorrows. But it is written, “If… we suffer with Him.., we [shall] be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17). What comfort and joy will be ours when shall dawn the morning without clouds! Then “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). Then shall be fulfilled the words of the great heavenly voice in Revelation 21:3, 4: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
[Reference and Resource]: The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 by Thomas Watson; The Beatitudes by Arthur W. Pink; Reading The Sermon on the Mount by John Stott; An Exegetical Study of the Sermon on the Mount by Abernathy, David, Tehan, Thomas; Lexham Theological Word Study by Magnum, Douglass, Brown; Word Studies in the New Testament by Vincent, Marvin R.
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