Summary: The Beatitudes: Building Blocks to Be Like Jesus #2
Americans don’t like to be unhappy. “Grey skies are going to clear up; put on a happy face.” We often live in an illusion denying reality.
Jay Lenno gets paid to make people laugh. Could you imagine Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather starting the evening news with the band playing, people shouting and laughing to a fifteen minute monolog of bad news? Yet how often does Lenno take the stories from the evening news and add an unexpected twist just to make people laugh?
Dr. Darold Treffert, the director of the Winnebago Mental Health Clinic in Wisconsin says the American fairy tail is that there are no problems. He notes it is un-American to let our children experience boredom frustration, loneliness, or pain. In order to protect ourselves from unwanted pain or difficulty many Americans try to desensitize ourselves, our feelings are numbed to reality (Check Your Character; Knofel Stanton, page 26).
Perhaps the single most common response to the September 11th terrorist attack was shock. Americans were dumbfounded; how could such a thing happen in the USA? It proved difficult to deny the tragic events of September 2001. Even Jay Lenno’s Tonight Show canceled programing for a time because America was in shock with nothing to laugh about.
We come today to the second of Jesus’ paradoxical statements of joy. Jesus says we are most happy when we mourn because it is then we are comforted. Again Jesus’ teaching flies in the face of what we as Americans believe. God’s kingdom is set up differently from the kingdoms of this world; the kingdom of heaven turns our thinking upside down.
Last week we began a series called, “The Beatitudes: Building Blocks To Be Like Jesus.” These are the BE-ATTITUDES, the qualities and characteristics all of us as believers should have as part of who we are. Put simply, the beatitudes say, “Live like this and you will be most happy.”
The first beatitude blessed the poor in spirit. Undoubtedly some of us are still trying to die to self through brokenness, humility and dependance upon God. The Apostle Paul said we are to be crucified with Christ, yet being crucified–dying to self– is never easy. However, dying to self is the first set of building blocks of the life lived like Jesus, a life full of joy. This morning we are going to see how the second beatitudes fits together with the first.
+ Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (NIV)
What was Jesus telling those gathered around Him to listen to the Sermon on the Mount? More importantly, what is Jesus saying to us? What does it mean for Jesus to say, “Blessed are those who mourn?”
Let’s start with what it does not mean. Jesus was not telling the multitude, nor is He telling us to be CRYBABIES. We are not to live continually in the doldrums or be gloomy and depressed. Jesus did not say, “I have come to give you a life of misery” or “the world will know you are my disciples by your long solemn faces.” Jesus said, “I’m here to give you life–abundant life!” (See: John 10:10).
Jesus is also not recommending his followers be eternal PESSIMISTS. Is the glass half full, or half empty? Do you believe the world has boarded a giant “Titanic” and we are slowly sinking? Jesus has not told us to find the dark shadow in everything. Yes we may see terrible things happen, but Jesus says, “Look up your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT). Regardless of what we may see around us, God still has a wonderful plan for our lives; He wants to give us a hope and a future! (See Jeremiah 29:11)
Remember, the beatitudes are building blocks to be like Jesus. Was Jesus a crybaby or a pessimist? No! The life lived like Jesus is a BLESSED LIFE; it is a life filled with lasting joy and real happiness. Throughout the New Testament we find the word joy:
+ John 15:11 I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. (MsgB)
+ Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy. . . (NIV)
+ Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV)
+ James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (NIV)
+ 1 Peter 1:8 Though you do not see[Jesus], you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy. (NLT)
“Blessed are those who mourn” is a paradoxical statement of joy. Blessing and mourning sounds like a contradiction, but when we properly understand what Jesus is saying then we are truly blessed.