THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
The Sermon on the Mount is taught in the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Immediately after his baptism and temptation he had begun to announce the good news that the kingdom of God, long promised in the Old Testament Era, was now at hand. He himself had come to inaugurate it. He said: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
The sermon of the mount is to be seen in this context. It portrays repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. In other words, it would describe what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
And what do they look like? Different! Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s Kingdom, were to be entirely different from others. The Sermon on the Mount elaborates the theme that the believers’ character was to be completely distinct from the World.
It is also important to remember that this portion of Jesus’ teaching was directed toward His closest friends, not the general population (verse 2). This sermon was a collection of truths designed to prepare His followers for His kingdom, which involved a lifestyle radically different from the world. In the Beatitudes, Jesus reminds His disciples that they cannot seek happiness the way the world does. True joy is not found in selfish ambition, excuses, or self-justification.
‘Blessed are,’ says Jesus as He speaks each of the Beatitudes. ‘Blessed’ means more than ‘happy.’ Happiness is an emotion that is dependent on how well things are going. It is an emotional reaction based on outward circumstances. But ‘blessed’ in the Beatitudes refers to much more. It speaks to ultimate well-being. It speaks to the distinctive spiritual joy of for those who belong to Jesus. The word Beatitude in itself means to become the privileged recipients of divine favour.
Today, our journey into the blessedness of Jesus brings us to a strange promise: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
"If you cry, it will get better" is the meaning of this second Beatitude, says Brittany, age 6. Brittany, if you cry for the right reasons, you will indeed get better because God will comfort you.
"This verse means to pray for those who are sad," says Todd, 9. "Try to help them take their mind off it. Invite them over to spend the night or to a water park."
Todd may be onto something. I've never seen anyone mourning while slipping, sliding and screaming down a water park slide.
"I mourned when my puppy ran away," says Taylor, 11. "I cried for hours, wanting him back, but he never came back. We got a new dog, but I still cry sometimes."
All of us experience losses, but our hearts don't want to accept them. We're left feeling hurt and powerless.
"'Blessed are those who mourn' means that God blesses those who have a tender heart," says Sean, 10.
"This means that those who feel sorry and awful for what they did wrong will be comforted by God," says Avery, 11.
"It means blessed are those who are lonely, they will be comforted by God," says Marshall, 9.
The pain of our loneliness can be so intense that even our closest friends and relatives can't understand, but God does. He knows we need fellowship with him and others. The isolation created by self-pity is never the answer.
QUESTION: But I have a question for you. Why do you think mourning is a spiritual thing? Why mourning?
There is a sinful mourning, which is an enemy to blessedness--the sorrow of the world; despairing melancholy upon a spiritual account, and disconsolate grief upon a temporal account. There is a natural mourning, which may prove a friend to blessedness, by the grace of God working with it, and sanctifying the afflictions to us, for which we mourn. But there is a gracious mourning, which qualifies for blessedness.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
The sorrow of the world: In the beatitudes Jesus was not referring to mourning that might occur because our sinful desires are frustrated. The scriptures tell us that Ammon mourned because he wanted to commit incest with his sister (2 Sam. 13:2), and Ahab grieved his loss of an inheritance (1 Kings 21:4). All the physical cares, wants, passions, lusts, greed, or longings do not qualify us for the blessing.
Despairing melancholy upon a spiritual account: Jesus was not talking about mourning over suffering which occurs because we did wrong (1 Pet. 3:17). It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.