Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Blessed Are They Who Mourn
by Tony Warren
Mourn: from old english murnan; verb - to show grief (eg. over someone who has died); to weep; to lament; to be sad; to bewail or cry; to be in sorrow; to show unhappiness about something. noun - mourner; adverb - mourning∑ly.
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. -Matthew 5:4" This statement of Christ as part of the Beatitudes seems a paradox to some Christians. For how could those who are grieved and mourning be blessed? But the more we meditate and consider this passage, the more we are compelled to understand this mourning as a virtuous action that is favored by God. In other words, those who mourn are favored of God and will be comforted and blessed. We understand the meaning of the word mourn, but the question is, mourn what? What does it really mean by "blessed are they that mourn?" Most certainly we know that all mourners are not blessed. And so we can readily understand that it is specific mourning that will be comforted. And that brings up the question, what is this comforting given of God because of such mourning? Obviously Christ is not speaking of a universal comforting on everyone who mourns. No one is automatically blessed because they mourn the loss of a courter or beau. Nor does it mean that anyone who mourns the loss of money will be blessed. Or that He means that anyone who mourns a relative or friend who has died will be blessed. Not at all. Quite clearly the Lord is speaking about a particular type of mourning that will bring blessings and relief from God. And the mourning in view is the action of man grieving because of his transgressions or sins. Whether that be because of the sins of others against our God or our own sins, mourning it is what is favored by God and that which brings His comfort. The Christian mourns because he is full of sin and knows his futility in removing it. He mourns because the weariness of life and transgressors in this sin cursed world grieves him. As we can see of the Lord's servant Ezra:
Ezra saw that God's people were still in their sins and so deplored its effects and consequences that he was sore grieved by the transgression. His mourning was because of their lawlessness, and this is the mind-set of all those who have the Spirit of God within them. They are saddened and grieved by sin. Indeed, that is what distinguishes true Christians from pseudo christians--that they are sorrowful for, and mourn because of their sins. In their pride many professing Christians deny their transgressions and attempt to hide themselves in self-righteousness. There is no mourning because their is no acknowledgement of anything to mourn. But God wants a contrite spirit, a humble spirit that recognizes the transgressions against Him. The mourning wherein Christ's people are blessed is this spiritual mourning--that is to say, the mourning of Christ's servants for their sins and the sins of the world against a righteous God. As God's stewards we are to go against the grain and humble ourselves (Psalms 138:6) before God, confessing our sins. And God will provide comfort in setting on high that spirit which has been brought low. For God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
- "Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away."
The meek or humble do not make a defense or try and justify their sins, they mourn because of them and confess them for what they are. They mourn because they know they are naked and separated from God and long for the communion and rest that was lost in Adam. They stand without pretext, excuse or evasions, guilty before God. And that's what vexes their soul. Without a lowly, honest sadness and confession, there is no remission of sin and thus no consolation or comfort from God. But with true grief over sin is humility. Because before forgiveness, there must be acknowledgement.
- "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
- I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
- Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:
- Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:
- To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety."
1st John 1:9:10
Those who are proud, supercilious and arrogant are self-righteous and will deny their wickedness before God. And that makes God's word concerning all mankind to be a lie. For Our Lord says all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and there is no difference between the best and the worst of men. They will all suffer the same fate under the wrath of God. But those meek in spirit who humble themselves will recognize their sinful estate and mourn for their transgressions against God. And in Matthew chapter five Christ is pronouncing a blessing upon them. In other words, by their mourning it, they are doing something that is good and commendable to God. For these are those unpretentious souls who are seeing the world as it actually is, rather than through the rose colored glasses of humanism. When mankind looks at this world and themselves honestly, recognizing their sins against God, this bring them grief and causes them to mourn.
- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
When sin is beheld by those who are humbled before God, they are in sorrow and mourn. And these are those whom Christ loves and declares blessed or favored of God. Those who mourn in this manner are those Christ promises consolation or comfort in their missing the mark in sin. In other words, those who are humble or poor in spirit that they mourn their shortcomings and transgressions will be blessed and receive the spiritual comfort of Christ our Saviour. The Spiritual comfort in the knowledge that God's word is true and we are secure in Christ, no matter what may befall us on this earth. We are secure in His word that our sins are forgiven and our mourning will be turned to joy. And in this consolation of Christ, we go forth to comfort others, even as we are comforted of God.
- "I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word."
2nd Corinthians 1:3-5
Those who mourn their sins, are persecuted because of transgressions, are in trials and tribulations for Christ's sake, are comforted in a spiritual consolation that passes understanding. In Christ saying "Blessed are the poor in spirit -Matthew 5:3." (humbled), he first illustrates we have to be emptied of the haughty spirit to recognize our utter bankruptcy, and it is then that we can mourn over our spiritual deficiencies. In His word we have the hope of all ages in the only mourning that will bring God's Spiritual comfort (Psalms 119:49-51). As with the other beatitudes, those who hunger and thirst (after righteousness) shall be filled. Those who are merciful, are the ones who shall receive the mercies of God, Etc. Likewise, this blessing for mourning is not declaring that anyone who mourns will receive comfort of God, it specifically pertains to those who mourn their sinful condition or the sin of others against God, will receive these consolations of God. Why? Because the Lord gives grace to these humble and mournful. Those meek souls who confess their transgressions rather than haughtily attempt to hide them behind self-justifications and rationalizing. Note in John 1:9 that the Lord offers a blessing to those who would humbly confess their wickedness that they receive the consolation of forgiveness. And that is the exact same thing that Christ is declaring in saying Blessed are those who mourn. He is addressing the grief that accompanies sin in the Christian, as these are those who in sorrow confess, rather than hide it behind a wall of self-righteousness.
- "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
- Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
- For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
The Psalmist declares how he is comforted, and it is that the Lord forgave him his sin. This is the exact same assurance that Christ gives those who mourn their sin when He declares that they shall be comforted (Isaiah 40:1-3), as the comfort in view is a spiritual consolation in Christ Jesus. And in fact the mourning and comfort in Christ's beatitude is a mirror of Jeremiah chapter 31 of the New Covenant with Israel, and speaks directly to the well being and ease in salvation.
- "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah."
Clearly this is what Christ was referring to when He stated Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. That God would turn their sorrow and mourning into the joy and comfort of His goodness and favor. It speaks directly to the salvation of His people. Indeed, the only people who mourn for their sins are the election, and they are those who will be satisfied with His goodness.
- "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
- And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD."
These are the blessed who mourn, because they have the Spirit of God poured out upon them where they recognize their sin unto repentance (2nd Corinthians 7:9-10) that they are sorrowful in a Godly repentant manner rather than a worldly manner. They confess their sins and are comforted by the spirit of Grace and supplication.
- "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
These who are of a broken and contrite spirit will declare their iniquity, and God will comfort them in their mourning. For example, we can see the illustration in Ezekiel chapter nine where the Lord said to the man with a writers ink horn and clothed with linen to save those who mourned because of the sins done in the city. This is the same portrait of those with the recognition and mourning because of sin being favored and blessed of God.
- "For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin."
Those that sigh and that cry for all the abominations against God are those that mourn for the wickedness and thus receive the blessing of God. They were saved from God's wrath through His mark on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1). Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted, and that comfort is eternal. The Lord will not leave nor forsake those who mourn for their sins, He will provide showers of blessings on these humble spirits.
- "And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
- And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
- Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house."
The Lord encourages the wicked to mourn over their wretchedness, to turn away in deep sorrow from their sins rather than remain in the temporal or humanistic joy of this world. This is the encouragement God gives to His people. That if they do this, He will lift them up to new heights. The type of mourning referred to in the Beatitudes is not mere emotional sadness or weeping, but lamenting and supplications over our sins. This Godly mourning is born out of a spiritual awareness of the terrible sins against righteous God, and a desire to do the will of Him whom we have transgressed against. And God bestows an unmerited blessing upon those who do so, the unmerited gift of the comforting grace in Christ Jesus. Indeed, how could we even begin to explain our repentance unto salvation or our mourning for sins except in terms of it being by Godís sovereign good pleasure to comfort us? The only people who are never without the blessings of comfort and hope are those who mourn because of sin. It is the undeserving but mournful sinner whom God provides forgiveness, salvation and the comfort of eternal covenanted peace. Blessed are these who mourn, for they shall receive the ultimate joy and comfort of God's eternal blessing and favor. Those who mourn do so because of the discernment of sin and long for the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus. And they shall receive it.
- "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
- Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
- Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
May the Lord who is gracious above all, give us the knowledge and wisdom to discern correctly His most precious word.
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