“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NRS)
The reward in studying the Beatitudes is not simply in acquiring knowledge that will improve our spiritual or moral character but it is an opportunity to gain insight into the nature of God and the extraordinary kingdom God has designed for our lives. The “blessedness” described in the Beatitudes affirms a quality of life that is already present with more to be fully realized in eternity future. In exploring the key propositions set forth within the Beatitudes, we discover the blessedness of “kingdom living”.
As a recap, “blessed” literally means “happy”. As we discovered earlier in this series, this “happiness” is not the same happiness that is offered by the world. Worldly happiness is dependent on circumstances or material possessions; kingdom happiness is authentic joy that accrues to a believer who shares in the salvation of the kingdom of heaven. The intent of this study series is to rediscover the fact that the believer’s “happiness” transcends the world’s definition and is anchored to our belief and trust in God (Heb. 6:19). “Blessed” implies an inner satisfaction and sufficiency that is not dependent on outward circumstances; it is not a function of positive psychology or a product of positive thinking. It is the reality of living in God’s presence, under God’s protection, and appreciating God’s provision. This allows believers to be “blessed” even while living in a fallen world. Today’s beatitude is a prime example of this reality of kingdom living.
Mourning is not the usual activity we associate with happiness. Why did Jesus choose to use mourning as a topic to include in this beatitude? Who can know the mind of God? (Rom. 11:34) But we do know that Jesus included it in His teaching on the kingdom of heaven and the Holy Spirit called it to the apostle’s “remembrance” (John 14:26) so that it would be chronicled in Holy Scripture for our reading today. Therefore, it is important for our learning. Mourning, usually associated with death or loss, is a universal expression of deep sorrow and grief. However, like “poor in spirit” has nothing to do with finances, “mourning and comforting”, in this beatitude, has nothing to do with death or loss. The major belief put forth by Bible scholars is that this mourning is “mourning over sin”. Paul spoke of this as “godly sorrow” that produces repentance leading to salvation without regret (2 Cor. 7:10). Much too often believers are burdened by unconfessed sin in their life resulting in emotional and spiritual scaring. Satan then uses guilt and shame to further enslave our lives. Once we truly comprehend the impact of sin on our lives and on our relationship with God, there is much reason to mourn.
Where is the blessedness in mourning? The “happiness” comes in the “comfort” which God provides through His forgiveness and salvation. Mourning our sinful state drives us into the arms of Jesus Christ, Who is the source of our forgiveness and salvation (Is. 40:1, 2). This occurs initially when we accept Jesus as our Savior and continues daily as we confess new sins that we have committed (Matt. 6:12; 1 John 1:9). There is comfort in knowing that our sins are forgiven and we are in right relationship with the Lord (Eph. 2:11-13). Mourning leads to comfort—forgiveness, salvation, and restoration. We thank God for the comfort He has provided us through Jesus Christ.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)
Good to the Last Byte…
Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) gives us an excellent model of “godly sorrow”. The prodigal mourned his disobedience that led to his “sinful state”: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (v. 18). His “godly sorrow” and confession (v. 21) then led to reconciliation with and “comfort” from his father: “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (vv. 22, 23). Jesus is the way to the blessed comfort promised to those who mourn over their sins.