Summary: Examination of the second BE-Attitude: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
PURSUING HAPPINESS : Sharing the Sorrow of God
1. Last Sunday we commenced an 8 week journey through the Beatitudes that will take us up till the end of August.
2. Just a few reminders about this passage which forms the opening statements of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
• This sermon is addressed not primarily to the masses, but specifically to His disciples. This is instruction for those who have chosen to follow Him. It is His instruction manual for entry into and living of the Christian life. You want to know what it means to be a Christian? Here in Matthew 5-7 is the definition and description of what it means to be a member of the church.
• These opening statements on what constitutes true happiness are progressive in nature – they are God’s stairway to abundant living. They start by pronouncing God’s blessing on those who recognize and acknowledge their own spiritual bankruptcy – that is the ground floor entrance to the Kingdom of God – admitting that we do not have within ourselves what it takes to please God. We are dependent on His mercy, His forgiveness, and His grace. Then what follows, builds on that initial attitude.
• And that attitude of humility and total reliance on God must always remain foundational. We will never arrive at a point where we can say to Him, “OK God, you can let go now. I can now live this life on my own.”
3. Now, building on that initial step, we move up to the second Be-Attitude – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
• Again, how upside down and strange this sounds to the world’s ears!
• The world would say, “Blessed are the cheerful”, “Blessed are the partygoers”, “Blessed are the potheads” who know how to use the substances, systems, and secrets of this world to numb the pain or keep themselves oblivious to it for they will have a good time.
4. Just before we launch into examining this Beatitude, I should make it clear that the believer’s experience of the Kingdom of God – the full realm and reign of God – needs to be understood in terms of our living between the “no more” and the “not yet”.
• We’re on a journey – like the Israelites of old during their years in the wilderness who were no longer captives in Egypt but were also not yet living in the Land of Promise. Yes, they received manna from heaven and water from the rock, but were not yet enjoying the milk and the honey.
• We still have to endure some of the limitations and sufferings and heartaches of this world, but are already starting to experience some of the blessings, some of the abundance, and refreshment of the life that is to come.
• And so the outcomes stated for each of the Beatitudes also needs to be seen in that light – while the full deposit has already been placed in our account through the finished work of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf, we are only able now to enjoy some of the interest on that account. But there is a day coming when we will experience it to the full.
• Right here and now, as we come to God in humility and repentance as “poor in spirit” – acknowledging and confessing our spiritual bankruptcy, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. But our experience of the full benefits of that citizenship has to wait till “every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord” and all “the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ”.
• You can compare the experience to being an American citizen traveling abroad in a foreign country. The language, the culture, the currency, the lifestyle, the scenery of that foreign land is all very different to home. The only place where you can catch an occasional glimpse of home and be refreshed in the values, the priorities, the people and foods you know is to go to the American Embassy – there you can hear your language spoken, eat foods and drink beverages with which you are familiar, see the Stars and Stripes. It’s a little sample – a little foretaste of home.
• And that’s what church is all about – this is an Embassy of the Kingdom of God in the middle of foreign and often enemy territory. This is where we come to hang out with and encourage the other Kingdom citizens each week by speaking the language and being refreshed in the lifestyle of home as we persevere in our objective not just of “surviving” in this foreign land but of working to expand the boundaries of God’s Kingdom and open new embassies wherever possible.