Summary: The Pilgrim’s path is the way of the Beattitudes. Penitence is a matter of the heart’s attitude toward receiving forgiveness.
The Pilgrim’s Path Part-2, Mathew 5:1-12
The Congregational preacher of old, D.L. Moody, told the story of a rebellious and angry boy who had run away from home. He had given his father no end of trouble. He had refused all the invitations his father had sent him to come home and be forgiven, and help to comfort his old heart. He had even gone so far as to scoff at his father and mother. But one day a letter came, telling him his father was dead, and they wanted him to come home and attend the funeral. At first he determined he would not go, but then he thought it would be a shame not to pay some little respect to the memory of so good a man; and so, just as a matter of form, he took the train and went to the old home, sat through all the funeral services, saw his father buried, and came back with the rest of the friends to the house, with his heart as cold and stony as ever.
But when the old man’s will was brought out to be read the ungrateful son found that his father had remembered him along with all the rest of the family, and had left him an inheritance with the others, who had not gone astray. This broke his heart in penitence. It was too much for him, that his old father, during all those years in which he had been so wicked and rebellious had never ceased to love him.
Penitence is the right response to the unending love of our Heavenly Father. It is a pathway to forgiveness. It is the Pilgrim’s pathway to freedom!
Today we begin the second part of our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, discovering the Pilgrim’s Path through this life; uncovering the way of following after Christ on His mission of redemption, the walking stick of God’s protection and provision in our calloused hands, dusty feet shoed in the sandals of peace, as we walk along the Pilgrim’s Pathway of repentance, redemption, and grace.
Concerning today’s text, Mathew 5:4, the Jamison, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says, “This “mourning” must not be taken loosely for that feeling which is wrung from men under pressure of the ills of life, nor yet strictly for sorrow on account of committed sins. Evidently it is that entire feeling which the sense of our spiritual poverty begets; and so the second beatitude is but the complement of the first.
The one is the intellectual, the other the emotional aspect of the same thing. It is poverty of spirit that says, “I am undone”; and it is the mourning which this causes that makes it break forth in the form of a lamentation - “Woe is me! for I am undone.”
Penitence is, most clearly, as with all 8 principals found in the beatitudes, a matter of the hearts attitude. Being penitent is having a sense of one’s own need for the forgiveness of God because of one’s own sin and shortcomings.
Penitence, as with humility which we examined last week, is about poverty of the spirit; an attitude of repentance, and a lifestyle consistent with an honest appraisal of who we are in relation to who He is. He is creator, we are the creation. He is redeemer; we are those in desperate need of redemption. He stands alone – God – while we kneel in humble adoration of divinity.