You know, if I had written my own Beatitudes, I probably would not have done so the same as Jesus did. I might have said “Blessed are you who are rich in spirit . . . who are full of joy . . . who are filled with righteousness . . . ” But Jesus didn’t say those things. He said people are blessed when they don’t have it all together (and know it, too) – because those are the people who will eventually have it all together in the end.
Last week I posted on “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This week we look at the next verse:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Read that first part again. “Blessed are those who mourn.” Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd? I mean, when people are sad all the time, we don’t exactly think of them as blessed.
But I don’t think this verse is talking about depression. The word for “mourn” literally means to “grieve.” So what are we supposed to be grieving over? And what does this grief look like?
Here are some cross-references for the word “mourn”, so we can have a better understanding of its meaning:
Matthew 9:15, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.'”
Luke 6:25, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
James 4:8-10, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
1 Cor. 5:2, “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
As I have have been studying the Beatitudes, one thing that has stood out to me is how the book of James covers almost every topic in the Beatitudes. Last week we saw that the poor will inherit the kingdom of heaven, and James reiterated that in 2:5. Now we see that those who mourn are blessed, while those who laugh now will mourn later – and James echoes that last part in 4:8-10. In many cases, James brings an additional perspective to the topics in the Beatitudes that may help us to understand them better.
Now, does James say all laughter is bad? Or that all mourning is good? No, he addresses a specific audience – people who were living sinful lives. He tells them to mourn their sin, to humble themselves – to repent.
I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner . . . For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he scolded them for all the sins they were allowing. I’ve already quoted 5:2, where he tells them they should have mourned the sexual immorality that was going on, rather than being puffed up with pride. Now, in his second letter, he rejoices that they did mourn and repent.
He closes this second letter with the benediction, “Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).
So I think the idea in “Blessed are those who mourn” is that Jesus is blessing those who genuinely mourn over sin. Why? Because those who genuinely mourn over sin are those who will seek to stop sin. And through Jesus, they can have that victory and be comforted in Him.
Do we mourn over our sin? Does it make us sad when we do what is wrong and let Satan have the victory? Or do we shrug our shoulders, laugh it off as little faults of ours, and continue to fall into the same pit over and over?
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work
2 Thes. 2:16