Sermon Text: Matthew 5:4
Sermon Theme: Without grief of sin, one will not receive the comfort of forgiveness and salvation.
Blessed are they that mourn,… For sin, for their own sins; the sin of their nature, indwelling sin, which is always working in them, and is a continual grief of mind to them; the unbelief of their hearts, notwithstanding the many instances, declarations, promises, and discoveries of grace made unto them; their daily infirmities, and many sins of life, because they are committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, grieve the Spirit, and dishonor the Gospel of Christ: who mourn also for the sins of others, for the sins of the world, the profaneness and wickedness that abound in it; and more especially for the sins of professors, by reason of which, the name of God, and ways of Christ, are evil spoken of: who likewise mourn under afflictions, spiritual ones, temptations, desertions, and declensions; temporal ones, their own, which they receive, either more immediately from the hand of God, or from men; such as they endure for the sake of Christ, and the profession of his Gospel; and who sympathize with others in their afflictions. These, how sorrowful and distressed so ever they may appear, are blessed.
…for they shall be comforted: Here in this life, by the God of all comfort, by Christ the comforter; by the Spirit of God, whose work and office it is to comfort; by the Scriptures of truth, which are written for their consolation; by the promises of the Gospel, through which the heirs of promise have strong consolation; by the ordinances of it, which are breasts of consolation; and by the ministers of the word, who have a commission from the Lord to speak comfortably to them; and then are they comforted, when they have the discoveries of the love of God, manifestations of pardoning grace, through the blood of Christ, and enjoy the divine presence: and they shall be comforted hereafter; when freed from all the troubles of this life, they shall be blessed with uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, and with the happy society of angels and glorified saints.
(From the Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- Can only the penitent person recognizes the weight of his or her sin and spiritual bankruptcy? This has nothing to do with “feeling badly” over some unhappy event. This refers to the condition of the human heart. Only when we are truly sorrowful for our spiritual bankruptcy can the grace of God be introduced into the picture. It is through God’s grace that we experience great joy and the comfort of the forgiveness He offers.
- A characteristic of a Christian’s situation in the world for their loyalty to God is generally one of disadvantage and therefore of mourning. Are you making it your main object and endeavor in life to be what you ought to be, rather than to scramble for what you can get?
- Are you being loyal and truthful to God? Or, are you hiding your problems and pretend to be happy? The same philosophy is applied to sin. But Jesus says, “Confess your sins, and mourn, mourn, mourn.” When we do that, our smiles can be genuine, because our happiness will be genuine. Godly mourning brings godly happiness, which no amount of human effort or optimistic pretense, no amount of positive thinking or possibility thinking, can produce.
- Can you discern mourning that is wallowing in self-pity and false humility, which are really badges of pride? True mourning over sin does not focus on ourselves, not even on our sin. It focuses on God, who alone can forgive and remove our sin.
- Are you studying sin in Scripture, to learn what an evil and repulsive thing it is to God and what a destructive and damning thing it is to us? Sin tramples on God’s laws, makes light of His love, grieves His Spirit, spurns His forgiveness and blessing, and in every way resists His grace. Sin makes us weak and makes us impure. It robs us of comfort and, much more importantly, robs God of glory.
- Are you constantly seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil that seems to reside in us? In the Savior the weary and heavy-laden soul shall find peace (Matthew 11:28-30); and the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, shall sustain them here (John 14:26-27), and in heaven all their tears shall be wiped away (Revelation 21:4).
- Is it a blessing to you that Jesus knows sorrow firsthand? Immeasurable divine love caused Jesus to look out over Jerusalem and wept (Luke 19:41-44) and wanting to gather the sinning people into His care as a mother hen gathers her chicks (Matthew 23:37).
- Does this Beatitude mean that Christians should seek out suffering? Should we rejoice in sickness, disasters, persecution, pain, and death? God’s counsel to the frivolous happy, the self-satisfied happy, the indulgent happy is: “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom”(Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). An Arab proverb says, “All sunshine makes a desert.” The trouble-free life is likely to be a shallow life. We often learn more and mature more from times of sorrow than from times when everything is going well.
- How can you truly comfort others if you are not assembling with believers in the church body?
- Life has lots of ups and downs. At times, you have joy and happiness and at other times you experience sorrow, pain, and suffering. The second Beatitude promises comfort when you mourn. Does this mean you will be comforted if you mourn for your own pain but are insensitive to the pain of others?
- Is it easier to appreciate someone else’s pain when you are suffering yourself?
- Does your own experience with sorrow better equip you to be a blessing to others?
- Can a person grieve so hard and so long over the loss of a loved one that he cannot function normally where his grief becomes sinful and destructive? In 2 Samuel 19:5-6, Joab rebuked king David saying, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.”
- Is the evil of the world heightening our mourning because of the seeming slowness of God’s justice? But aren’t we now to rejoice, even in our troubled circumstances, because our salvation has found its beginning? The time draws near when we shall be comforted (Revelation 7:17; 21:4), but we are already to be happy in the knowledge that the kingdom has arrived. Our salvation is at hand.
- What other sources of consolation (e.g. sports, entertainment, drugs, etc.) do you use to reach the deep sorrows of your soul? They may blunt the sensibilities of the mind; they may produce a sullen and reluctant submission to what we cannot help: but they do not point to the true source of comfort. In the God of mercy only; in the Savior; in the peace that flows from the hope of a better world — there only, is there consolation.
- Can we determine if we have genuine mourning over sin by checking our sense of God’s forgiveness? Have we experienced the release and freedom of knowing our sins are forgiven? Do we have His peace and joy in our life? Can we point to true happiness He has given in response to our mourning? Do we have the divine comfort He promises to those who have forgiven, cleansed, and purified lives?
1) The μακάριοι (blessed) describes the nearly incomprehensible happiness of those who participate in the kingdom announced by Jesus. Rather than happiness in its mundane sense, it refers to the deep inner joy of those who have long awaited the salvation promised by God and who now begin to experience its fulfillment. The μακάριοι (blessed) are the deeply or supremely happy.
For here is a kingdom which is to secure the well-being of all who belong to it; and not well-being only, but something far beyond and above it: for “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9) and which His ambassador wrapped up in that great word “Blessed.”
2) Certain kinds of sorrow are common to all mankind, experienced by believer and unbeliever alike. Some of these sorrows are normal and legitimate, sorrows which concern the Lord and for which He knows our need. Others are abnormal and illegitimate, brought about solely because of sinful passions and objectives.
Improper mourning is the sorrow of those who are frustrated in fulfilling evil plans and lusts, or who have misguided loyalties and affection. To those who mourn in that way the Lord offers no help or solace.
There are also, of course, other kinds of sorrow, legitimate sorrows that are common to all mankind and for which reasonable mourning is appropriate. To express these sorrows and to cry over them opens an escape valve that keeps our feelings from festering and poisoning our emotions and our whole life. It provides the way for healing, just as washing out a wound helps prevent infection.
The mourning about which Jesus is talking in the second beatitude, however, has nothing to do with the types just discussed, proper or improper. The Lord is concerned about all of the legitimate sorrows of His children, and He promises to console, comfort, and strengthen us when we turn to Him for help. But those are not the kind of sorrow at issue here. Jesus is speaking of godly sorrow, godly mourning, mourning that only those who sincerely desire to belong to Him or who already belong to Him can experience.
Paul speaks of this sorrow in his second letter to Corinthians. “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). The only sorrow that brings spiritual life and growth is godly sorrow, sorrow over sin that leads to repentance. Godly sorrow is linked to repentance, and repentance is linked to sin.
Of the nine terms used for sorrow in the New Testament, the one used here (pentheō, mourn) is the strongest, the most severe. It represents the deepest, most heart-felt grief, and was generally reserved for grieving over the death of a loved one. It is used of the disciples’ mourning for Jesus before they knew He was raised from the dead (Mark 16:10).
The word carries the idea of deep inner agony, which may or may not be expressed by outward weeping, wailing, or lament. Mourning is not merely a psychological or emotional experience that makes people feel better. It is a communion with the living, loving God who responds to the mourner with an objective reality—the reality of divine forgiveness which brings deep happiness.
(From John MacArthur New Testament Commentary)
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