A Good Mourning
We come to the second of the Beatitudes in the opening of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week we heard the words of Jesus, in Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is a paradox of the Kingdom of Heaven in start contrast to the Kingdom of this Word. In these words, Jesus tells us that we come into his kingdom through realizing our spiritual bankruptcy and the need for a Savior, instead of through our own self-righteousness, our own religious zeal, and our own good works.
This week we find ourselves looking at another paradox of the Kingdom that is build on the foundation of our spiritual poverty. In Matthew 5:4 Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” You may be sitting there thinking, what an odd thing to say, that we are blessed in mourning. What does this mean?
There are 9 words in biblical Greek that can be used to express grief or sorrow. Sorrow is something we face routinely. In reality most grief is good for us. It is a gift from God because is allows us to release the pain that is within us. Weeping, mourning, healthy grieving is all part of the human nature that God put within us.
Abraham grieved and wept over the death of this wife, Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20).
Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet (Jeremiah 13:17).
The Apostle Paul Wept for his churches and The Apostle John wept when he realized no one could open the scroll (Revelation 5:4).
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35).
There is quite a bit of sadness in life. Life can go from the mountaintop to the valley very quickly and suddenly. There are any number of things that can bring us grief. The death of a loved one, a diagnosis, marital stress, financial worries, job stresses, changes in our homes, a betrayal by a friend or mentor, a home full of arguments, wayward children, the status of our nation or world, a natural disaster, acts of violence, even holidays can bring grief, sorry and steal our joy. But these are all a symptom of something that should bring to us a godly grief and that is sin.
This is the point of Jesus’ beatitude in Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Whether we realize it or not, godly sorry teaches us, strengthens us, and produces something in us that leads us closer to the rivers of life. That is REPENTENCE.
9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to repentance. For you were made to have godly sorrow, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For godly sorrow produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world brings about death.
When we realize our spiritual poverty and the source of our poverty we come to a place of grief. It is the mourning over our spiritual condition. It is the sin in our lives that leads us to repentance and it is a genuine repentance over our sin that brings the comfort of God. This the key characteristic of what some people call revival. This is what Jesus is talking about right here. It is not emotionalism or some kind of self-help attitude. It is the complete surrender of everything in your life over to Jesus and a genuine grief over the stain of sin that opens the door for God’s comfort.
This is the tragedy of the modern church who focuses in on self-help euphemisms, entertainment, and feel-good messages that never get to the heart of the issue and in doing so, we are denying those sitting in the pews the life-giving comfort of living water that comes from Jesus through our repentance of sin. As long as we live on this earth as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we should have an overwhelming sense of our spiritual poverty.
6 Therefore I reject myself, And I repent in dust and ashes.”
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?
5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts.”
Now, the word Jesus uses for mourning is the strongest of all the Greek verbs. It is reserved for mourning the dead with a passionate lament of the loss and the destruction of death. But as I said before, Jesus isn’t talking about mourning over the things that the world mourns over, but the deep grief and sorrow over sin. And as a result he comes before God with a penitent heart asking God for mercy and receiving the comfort of God’s forgiveness
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Isaiah 22:12–13 (LSB)
12 Therefore in that day Lord Yahweh of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, To shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth. 13 Instead, behold, there is joy and gladness
Most of us try to shield our lives from pain and sorrow. We cover up the pain through all kinds of things that number our senses. Until you have a sense of mourning and the awareness of the pain caused by sin, you will not find the comfort of God’s forgiveness. There was a story that came out about 12 years ago of a girl named Ashlyn Blocker. When she was an infant she never cried and when she’d fall there was no awareness of her injury.
Ashlyn has a rare genetic disease called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis - or CIPA. She is unable to feel pain. She cannot tell if something she’s drinking is too hot, if she cuts herself with a knife, or even if she breaks a bone. Her first serious injury came at age 3, when she laid her hand on a hot pressure washer in the back yard. Ashlyn’s mother found her staring at her red, blistered palm.
There are obvious dangers that threaten Ashlyn’s life. There is a case when another child with CIPA had his appendix rupture and died from the infection. The lack of pain response kept anyone from knowing that something was wrong. Ashlyn’s mom, Tara, said in an interview, “It’s the strangest thing, but all I want is for my daughter to feel pain.”
So how should we respond to our mourning of sin. There are a number of things we can do. First, you can deny it, like the Pharisees. You can put on some king do phony attitude of self-righteousness and live in the deception that sin exists. Secondly, when you come to the realization of your spiritual bankruptcy you can admit and fix it yourself through good works and self-help. That’s piety and it brings no comfort from God.
Or you can do what Jesus says right here. You can admit it and you can come to God for His grace. Like the prodigal son who realized how poor he really was on his own. You can come home to God. I’m not talking about wallowing in self pity, but facing your sin with godly sorrow and giving them over to Him - all of them - past, present, and future.
The result of this kind of repentance is comfort from God. Did you notice that with Jesus’ beatitude? Matthew 5:4 “4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” That comfort is God’s forgiveness. And I tell you, the most comforting reality is that all your sins, past, present, and future, are washed away and forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing between you and God and you are free to enjoy the fullness of his blessings.
Yet, it doesn’t stop at that. The man who truly mourns as a Christian, will also mourn for the sins of others. He doesn’t remain self-focused, but has a concern about the condition of the world, his family, and others. He mourns because of the sins of others and the results of those sins, not to condemn others, but out of a desire for others to know the liberty given through the comfort promised by Jesus. He realizes that what we see in the world is a result of sin and it grieves him.
That leaves us with one final question, “How does one come to such a place of mourning?” First we need to remove the hinderance of our hardened heart to become soft for God. In other words, we need to stop ignoring God’s call and come to him as a child (Matthew 18:3).
Hebrews 3:7-8 “7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,”
Secondly, study in Scripture those who have softened their hearts to God. Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter. They understood that sin tramples God’s law, clouds our sight from His love, grieves His Spirit, makes us impure, and robs us of His blessings.
Third, pray that God softens your heart to love the things that He loves and Hate the things that God hates. If you are struggling with sin, ask God to change your heart toward the sin you are holding onto so that you detest it’s filth in the same way.
The name Auschwitz brings terror and grief to the hearts of many people. It is the sight of an infamous nazi death camp where 4 million jews died during world war II. A half-ton of hair is still preserved and he showers that once sprayed poison gas still stand.
Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who had been helping the Jews escape the Nazis. He was discovered and arrested, and sent to Auschwitz. Even there he cared for the prisoners. He bandaged their wounds. He shared his food. He gave up his bunk. He prayed for his captors. He became known as the “Saint of Auschwitz.”
In July, 1941, there was an escape. The camp rule stated that upon every escape resulted the death of 10 other prisoners. All the prisoners would be gathered in the courtyard, and 10 random names of the prisoners who would be immediately taken to a cell where they would receive no food and water until they died.
One by one names were called. The tenth person called was Fraciszek Gajowniczek. He was a sergeant in the polish army who had been captured. When his name was called he cried, “my wife and children.” With that, a prisoner has left his rank and is pushing his way to the front, ignoring the commands to stop. It was Kolbe.
Kolbe said that he wanted to talk to the commander and surprisingly they allowed him to speak. He said to the commander, “Let me die in the place of this man. I have no family. Besides, I am old and cannot do much work. He’s in much better condition, and more useful to you.” For a reason that we’ll never know, the SS officer granted his request.
With that, “The Saint of Auschwitz” was marched off with nine other men where they were stripped of their clothes and kept without food and water until they died. Amazingly, on August 14, 1941, the Saint of Auschwitz was still alive, until a camp doctor injected phenol to end his life.
Gajowniczek survived Auschwitz when he was liberated by the allies and was reunited with his wife and children. In his backyard in Warsaw, Poland made a plaque to remember Maximillian Kolbe. Every year until his death he returned to Auschwitz on August 14th where he wept and he prayed and thanked God that someone cared enough for him to die in his place!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
That’s what jesus did for you and me. You see, I was a held prisoner by Satan, and the “wages of sin is death.” My name has been called, and so has yours. And when our names are called, Jesus comes in our place so that we may live. Jesus lived a sinless life. He came under no penalty of death.
Jesus breaks through the ranks of sin in our lives, raises his hand and says, “Father, pick me! Let me die in Brad’s place.” And friend, if you were the only person on this earth who committed sin; if everyone around you lived a perfect life except you, jesus would still raise his hand and say, “let me take his place!” “let me die for her!” (Fred Sigle, Sermon Central)
What sin are you holding onto or denying today? Will you come to Jesus openly, honestly, and with mourning to repent of that?
1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
Will you come to him today?