Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
By Lee Jones
We have already seen how the poor in spirit are blessed, but the next beatitude is even more of a head-scratcher; Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Anyone alive knows what it means to mourn. We all have felt mourning over a beloved family member or friend’s death, loss of a job, or other sorts of bad circumstances that cause us deep sadness. However, we must ask if this kind of “carnal mourning,” as Thomas Watson puts it, is all Jesus means here. I contend, and I’m not alone, that Jesus means infinitely more that. This second beatitude is logically linked to the first beatitude, just as the subsequent beatitudes are linked to these two as well.
We know those who realize their poverty of spirit, knowing they are powerless to honor God on their own, are blessed because they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. So that leads us to mourn over our sins, the ultimate tragedy. Our sins are not merely what we do (and there is ample evidence in the world that people are sinful) but sin is what we are by default. Paul says in Adam all died. Our spirits are dead in trespasses and sins because of the nature we inherited from Adam. As Watson said, we mourn our own sin, but we mourn also over the guilt of sin. Its wage is death. And we mourn the pollution of sin, which stains all we do. What a deplorable state. Who will save us?
Jesus Christ saves us. Let’s return to Isaiah 61, the portion he read in the synagogue. Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”
Not only does the reconciliation we now have with YHWH in Jesus Christ comfort our mourning over sin, but his promise of a kingdom unstained by any sin, where we are welcome to commune with God face to face, adds ultimate comfort in our distress.
How does Jesus do this? Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Colossians 1:13, 14 goes further, “For he rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” What a comfort the salvation of a believer is. Gone is the anxiety of working to satisfy our sinful desires, the hardest taskmaster of all. We no longer grope around in the darkness, but we have an inheritance of the saints in light (Col 1:12). Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin so we may have delightful union with him for eternity, starting now.
Furthermore, we look forward to the kingdom of God in its fullness where “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17). Finally, there we will no longer have sickness, discord, and death to weep and mourn over, but our sinfulness will be gone and so will our tears over it.
Not only does the reconciliation we now have with YHWH in Jesus Christ comfort our mourning over sin, but his promise of a kingdom unstained by any sin, where we are welcome to commune with God face to face, adds ultimate comfort in our distress. If God is for us, who can be against us? He delivers to his covenant children grace upon grace, comfort upon comfort.
Glory to God alone.