The preaching of the King – Part 2
Those who are blessed are those who mourn. Mourning is hateful and irksome to the human nature. Jesus said the happy people in this world are those who 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 to be the happy ones, but Christ pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.
It is obvious that it is not every form of mourning Jesus is referring to. There are thousands of mourners in the world who do not come within the scope of this verse. There is a natural, a sinful mourning which is a disconsolate and inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a hopeless remorse like that of Judas when he betrayed Jesus. There is a "godly sorrow," of which the Holy Spirit is the Author.
The "mourning" Jesus is referring to is a spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of thought here: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "Blessed are the poor," not the financially poor, but the poor in heart: those who realize they are spiritual bankrupt the opposite of the Laodicean which says, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." In like manner it is spiritual mourning Jesus is referring to. Further proof of this is found in the fact that Jesus pronounces these mourners "blessed." They are blessed because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace within them, and they have been awakened to see and feel their lost condition. They are "blessed" because God does not leave them at that point, "they shall be comforted."
Mourning Jesus refers to is the initial mourning which precedes a genuine conversion. There must be a real sense of sin and a godly sorrow before the remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge that they are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact. The prodigal in Luke 15 before he left the far country said, "I will arise and go unto my Father and say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son." The publican of Luke 18 "smite upon his breast" and said "God be merciful to me a sinner"? The prodigal and publican felt a sense of sin in their heart.
The mourning Jesus is referring to springs from a sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His will. In some cases it is grief over the worldly things the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has caused complacency. It comes from an agonizing realization that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. It is these tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome and receive the Savior. It is mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with poverty of spirit.
But this "mourning" is by no means to be confined to the initial experience of conviction it is a present and continuous experience. The Christian has much to mourn over, the sins which he commits both of omission and commission that should be a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be if his conscience is kept tender. The surging of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his failure to produce good fruit should make him cry "O wretched man that I am."
"Blessed are they that mourn" refers to the convicted soul sorrowing over sins. Jesus does not say they are blessed because they mourn. They are blessed because they will be comforted. True comfort is not to be found in self, but in Jesus. When the Holy Spirit produces in the heart a godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave us there, but brings us to look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then we are comforted.
This gracious promise of comfort is fulfilled first in the removal of the burden of guilt that is an intolerable burden on the conscience. This comfort is the peace of God which passes all understanding, filling the heart with the assurance we are "accepted in the Beloved."
It is a continual comforting by the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The one who sorrows over his departures from Jesus is comforted by the assurance that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The one who mourns under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise, "afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). The one who grieves over the dishonor done to his Lord is comforted by the fact that Satan’s time is short, and soon will bruise him beneath His feet.
Third, the final comfort is when we leave this world and are done with sin for ever. Then shall "sorrow and sighing flee away." To the rich man in hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at his gate, "now he is comforted (Luke 16:25). The good news is the comfort of heaven will more than compensate for all the mourning of earth.