Summary: Blessed mourning is an emotional paradox, but also a sublime truth.
Series: The Sermon on the Mount
Title: The Blessed Mourner
Text: Matthew 5:4
Introduction: Deep within the pages of the Old Testament is a phrase which has befuddled many bible readers down through the ages because it presents a type of emotional paradox.
“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
This phrase goes against the natural expression of the reality that most of us experience.
Certainly going to a place of mourning, such as a wake or a funeral home, is not a pleasant experience.
And moreover, when compared to the joy of experiencing a feast, most people would say that it is certainly better to go to the feast than to the funeral.
Yet, this text says that the funeral is BETTER than the feast!
Now, some would say that this is because this passage is found in Ecclesiastes, and that book is just filled with difficult passages that are not always immediately understandable at face value.
But the reality is that these words, though admittedly opposed to our natural sensibilities, do show profound agreement with the words of Christ in our text for today.
In our text this morning, Jesus is going to declare the blessedness of mourning.
Through our lesson we will see that while not all mourning is blessed, the mourning to which Christ refers carries a special blessing indeed.
READ: Matthew 5:4
I would imagine that everyone under the sound of my voice, except perhaps the youngest amongst us, has at times experienced tremendous grief.
Having worked for years in the funeral business both as a teenager and an adult, I have had the opportunity to see many people grieve.
In my time in ministry, I have actually accompanied the death of more than a few people, both believers and unbelievers, and experienced the response of family and friends as they spent the final moments with their loved one.
Grief and mourning are terribly difficult realities that we face in life.
QUOTE: A.W. Pink “Mourning is hateful and irksome to poor human nature: from suffering and sadness our spirits instinctively shrink.”
And this is so true - no one enjoys mourning and grief.
Given the opportunity, most of us would assuredly prefer to avoid grief.
A.W. Pink goes on to say, “It is natural for us to seek the society of the cheerful and joyous. The verse now before us presents an anomaly to the unregenerate, yet is it sweet music to the ears of God's elect: if "blessed" why do they "mourn"? If they mourn, how can they be blessed? Only the child of God has the key to this paradox, for "happy are they who sorrow" is at complete variance with the world's logic. Men have, in all places and in all ages, deemed the prosperous and the gay to be the happy ones, but Christ pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.
Just in case we miss the power of the mourning to which Jesus is referring, consider the use of language in this beatitude.
QUOTE: William Barclay The verb used here for “mourn” (penthountes) “is the strongest word which is used for mourning in the Greek language. It is the word which is used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for one who was loved. In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, it is the word which is used of Jacob’s grief when he believed that Joseph, his son, was dead (Genesis 37:34).”
This is not a simple sadness, but a true and deeply profound grief - it is true mourning which Jesus calls blessed.
Yet, we need to understand that even though Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who mourn, it is NOT all mourning which is blessed.
QUOTE A.W. Pink “It is obvious that it is not every species of mourning which is here referred to. There are thousands of mourners in the world today who do not come within the scope of our text.”
Note: In the same way Jesus had a specific type of “poorness” in mind when he said “blessed are the poor in spirit”, so too did He have a specific type of mourning in mind when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
There are at least four (4) types of mourning which are not blessed:
1. The Sorrow of Unbelief
2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Now, what is the “worldly grief” which the apostle Paul is here referring?
Worldly grief is the natural consequence of unbelief.
Those who reject God also reject the true meaning of their own existence.
We were created to magnify, glorify and to worship God.