We live in a world of hype. Everything is bigger, better, awesome, unbelievable. More than that everything is great, newer, faster and improved. Every company is cutting edge. Every organization is the best. Every speaker wants to make you the best you can be. On ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg from the Mike and Mike morning show starts every day, without fail, with, “back and better than ever.” Really? Every day you are better than ever?
Into this wave of hype Jesus says these words in Matthew 5:
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Today we are looking at he second beatitude, Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted
Jesus proclaimed the kingdom calling us to repent and mourn over our own sin.
There are a lot of ways to mourn and a lot of things to be sad about. I think this verse applies to all of them. But if were to look for of a real starting point, I think Jesus is saying blessed are those who mourn over the sin in their own lives.
The first beatitude commends those who are “poor in spirit” meaning those who know we have no standing before God. We compared being poor in spirit to being economically poor: You are helpless and rely on someone else to help. When we realize we have no way to bargain with God we are spiritually poor. “Mourning” is deeper; it is not only regret and tacit acknowledgement but repentance and contrition. It is an emotional understanding of the depth of our wrong. Those who understand their sin, not just their brokenness but their inclination to rebellion – they are the ones who are blessed.
There are many that do not mourn deep enough. They say they accept responsibility but they only admit so much. Their egos are too fragile. They cannot look into the depth of their sin to see the whole guilt. They stop short. This is one of the things we have learned from the addiction community. The only addict who is going to get better is the one who has nothing, who says, “my life is unmanageable, my actions are my own, I cannot get out of this myself.”
The beatitude does not say blessed are those who rationalize, blessed are those who say “mistakes were made.” It does not say blessed are those who have regret, blessed are those who get caught. It says blessed are those who mourn.
With very public disgrace like Jimmy Swaggert or Ted Haggard, we often see people who cannot mourn as they must. They repent but not for everything. They accept blame but quickly want everyone to forget so they can go back to doing what they did before. There is no real mourning. Of course who am I to say how one responds to that kind of devastation? All I know is Jesus said blessed are those who mourn. The healing will only go as deep as the repentance and the worship will only go as far as the forgiveness. Some people have a very shallow unconnected relationship with God because have had shallow repentance and not real sorrow for sin. Without sorrow there is little gratitude and without gratitude little love.
Transition—the complexity of their mourning is that when someone digs down, as Haggard was forced to, one starts to see other problems that led to the situation. You start to see the societal sin. Haggard spoke of being abused as a young boy, and of other events in Jr. High. To his credit he does not blame that abuse for making him a sinner – but he is trying to make sense of his sin.
There are societal ills that can cause us to mourn as well as personal sins.
Some mourn over societal ills
Psalm 119 says that the Psalmist weeps because God’s law is not obeyed.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
We mourn because the world is not as it should be. There are not only personal evils but societal evils, injustice, inequality and racism. Sometimes people act like all we need to do to change in this world is force people to take personal responsibility for their actions. They see no bigger issues. Other people think that societal ills are the root of all our problems. All we need to do is restructure things and everyone will be fine. There is room in the Christian heart for mourning over both. We need to get people off of heroin and heroin off the streets and jobs into the city. All those things are true. When it comes to something like drugs or inner city education, there is plenty of room for mourning.
Transition: but some will say, I am just a positive person. I don’t like looking at what it wrong with me. I am practically perfect in every way (as Mary Poppins would say), and every inch of me is perfect from the bottom to the top (as Meaghan Trainor would say). I just don’t want to worry about being sad, and don’t see why anyone would be blessed who mourns.
But here is the problem. Everyone will mourn.
All will mourn eventually because of life brings sadness.
Everyone fails. Everyone gets older. Each athlete retires and makes room for another. Marriages fail. People get sick. All of us die. You will not go through this life without mourning. The only way to not mourn is to not love and to not care.
There is a long slow mourning when you realize your kids don’t live to fulfill your dreams. Their dreams for life may be different from your dreams. If you have a child with Autism this disappointment is not gradual but hits you all at once.
Transition: The sadness and disappointments of life challenge everyone’s world view. If you have never expected it, sadness can blindside you. Jesus said when it does, you are blessed – which sounds more than strange. But remember, the beatitude says “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” What does that mean?
The passive voice here means, God will do it. There is something more that happens when we mourn if we are willing to let God enter our heart.
Blessed are those who mourn over their own sin because it brings them to God.
We realize our sin but we don’t just crumple in despair because it is when we mourn for our sin that we find the grace of God in Jesus. When you read the gospels, the accounts of Jesus, you find that he is always responsive to those who are aware of their own sin and brokenness.
In Mark 2 when Jesus is questioned about being in the house of Levi a tax collector and “sinner.” He replied “I have not come to call righteous but sinners…”
Blessed are those who mourn for sin for they will be comforted
Blessed are those who mourn societal evil because it causes us to pray and work for the kingdom of God.
It is when God breaks our hearts for what is wrong with the world that we realize that part of the prayer he gave us says “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When Jesus began his ministry he read from the scroll in the synagogue and said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he had anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”
Look at what that prophecy from Isaiah 61 says – it is looking to the future when the Messiah comes:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
In effect Jesus said in Mark 2 that the future Isaiah saw is now.
Blessed are those who mourn for a broken world for they will be comforted when they participate in what God is doing right now
Blessed are those who mourn over heartache and pain – we all will – and those who do can hear the message that this is not all there is.
And for those blindsided by the sadness of life, Jesus says Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. It is the sadness of this life that drives us to God or to despair. We all must wrestle with our limitations and there is often grief when we realized we can’t do it all or that some of our dreams won’t come true. The Bible tells us that the world is not the way God created it to be but that God will recreate it and restore it. And we can be there. If we submit our lives to him now, we will be there with him then. If we reject him now, we won’t be part of it then.
We don’t talk about death, or forgiveness or heaven very much in our culture, even in the church. But when you are facing serious illness, loss or heartache, you start to wonder if there is more to this life than what you see.
Jesus says yes – blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted; blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
So what is our application? Can I tell you to mourn? I think if you are in a season of mourning you do not need me to tell you to mourn. But I would tell you that God wants to comfort you. Whatever saddens you God can use to connect your heart to his heart. He wants to bring forgiveness for what you truly repent of, motivation for what affects you, and bigger vision for your grief.