Matthew 5:1-12 — Mourning Can Be A Good Thing? Wow, Jesus, That’s Totally Different From What I Had!

Posted: September 23, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew, The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12 — Jesus blows us away with the next Beatitude. Jesus says, in Verse 4 of Matthew 5, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This one just flies into the face of everything that we know in our humanness. To us, mourning is a bad thing. If beatitude means blessed state of being, how can this be a blessed state of being? When we think of mourning, it is usually thought of in the context of a major loss, particularly death, especially the death of a loved one. It is defined in the dictionaries as “to feel or express sorrow or grief over (misfortune, loss, or anything regretted); deplore”. However, Jesus always looks at life differently and in a more eternal way that we do. Jesus says basically here that mourning means something good in the end. It means that comfort will be given by our Father in Heaven. Why does Jesus say this?

Let’s look at this. I think what Jesus is saying to us here are several things. First, mourning in the sense of this text cannot be limited to simply grief surrounding death of an important person in our life. It is meant, I think, to include grief over being oppressed, and grief over loss of control of our lives. Inherent in mourning is that we have lost something that we cared about. For most of us, mourning is the result of realizing that we do not control our own destiny. That life has a way of continuing to work its pattern regardless of what we do. We see this often in the expression of grief over the death of a loved one. In coming to that realization, there is an inevitable descent into hopelessness. This is true in mourning caused by other factors in life not just death of a loved one. We often mourn over loss of a marriage, loss of a job, loss of money, loss of a home, loss of a friendship, loss of anything in our humanness that we cling to as important in our lives. It has often been said that when we make a human or things created by humans our gods then we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Isn’t that what Jesus is saying here? Yes, it is a harsh way to come to God – through loss. However, once we realize that we do not control our lives like we think we do then we are open to God himself. We then reach out to something greater than ourselves. Like crawling in our daddy’s lap when we hurt ourselves and there we find comfort and feel oh so loved and secure. In that instant, we feel nothing can hurt us or at least that daddy will fix it for us. That is what God wants for us. Through mourning, the realization that we are out of control, we can honestly without hesitation in our heart turn to God, our Heavenly daddy and say please fix this, please fix my life. Only then can we turn our life totally over to his control. Again, as we see here, Jesus turns our conventional wisdom about what is good and what is bad on its ear. Through our mourning, we find God and rid ourselves of the hopeless randomness of this world. In Jesus’ view, we can come out of the other end of mourning as a better and more eternally oriented.

Another way to look at it is that we are in mourning when we realized that we are mired in sin. The Spirit comforts those who are honest about their own sin and humble enough to ask for forgiveness and healing. Those who hide their sin or try to justify it before God can never know the comfort that comes from a pure heart. True joy is not found in selfish ambition, excuses, or self-justification. An enviable state of blessedness comes to those who mourn over their own sin. It is only when we realize that we cannot earn or justify or do all the right things that we find the tears of salvation. When we honestly realize that hell will be our home for eternity because of how innately bad we are, how we are completely lost, and how we need outside intervention that we are ready for salvation.

Pride blinds us to our need for a Savior. Pride makes us think that we self-sufficient. Pride makes some of us believe that we are too smart for God so we make Him not exist. Pride makes us think that our own choices should be allowed free rein because we know better than God. Pride makes us justify our behaviors and in so doing circumvent the eternal, unchanging truth of God. How can we ever find God when we are prideful? It is only when we realize that there is something greater than we are. It is only when we mourn over our inability to control our lives that we can see God. When we come to that honest point that we have screwed up our lives in our pride that we are ready to see God. When we see that we are sinners who keep sinning, keep hurting people, keep doing things that are displeasing to God that we cry out, we mourn for the hopeless state of our lives that we are ready for the leadership of Jesus Christ in our lives. When we mourn, it is admitting that we don’t have it all together. Admitting that we need a Savior. Admitting that we need help is the beginning of the weight of pride and self-reliance off of our shoulders. Honesty about our true state of failure before a perfect God is the beginning of repentance. Repentance is honesty. Mourning is realization. We need a Savior. Mourning is realization. Mourning is the fog clearing from our eyes. We need a Savior. So, in this sense, mourning is like the dawning of a new morning. It is the realization that we need a fresh start. We find that in salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mourning gives way to great joy and comfort in knowing that God is in control and that we are safe in the arms of Christ. Joy comes from the mourning. Joy comes in the morning! Amen.

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