Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (ESV)
This second beatitude is somewhat of a continuation of the first beatitude that says, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). The first beatitude is a mental acknowledgement of one’s spiritual poverty whereas the second beatitude is the emotional response to one’s spiritual poverty. The prophet Isaiah best illustrates this. He recognized his poverty of spirit by saying, “For I am lost.” And expressed that sense of “lostness” by saying, “Woe is me.” (Isaiah 6:5)
The mourning in this beatitude is mourning over personal sin as well as the sins of mankind, specifically the failure to exalt God. King David’s lament after Nathan the prophet exposed his sin with Bathsheba fully embodies these two beatitudes in dealing with personal sin. In Psalms 51:1-12 David confesses his sin, grieves over his fallen state and implores God’s forgiveness.
Many of the Old Testament prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel lamented the sins of God’s people, Israel and Judah. The Psalmist Asaph also mourned the sins of God’s people. He wrote, Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! (Psalms 79:8-9 ESV)
The blessing for those who mourn is that they will be comforted. The Greek word for mourn in Matthew 5:4 means to call near or to invite. Jesus seems to be saying that those who mourn over sin are invited to come near to God. David wrote, Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! (Psalms 65:4 ESV) Reading from the scriptures while in the synagogue, Jesus said that he had come to comfort all who mourn and give them the oil of joy for mourning (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18). He called to himself all were weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28). It is a tremendous blessing for those who mourn to be invited to draw near God.
How many of us actually mourn over our sin and the sins of mankind? We are sometimes quick to acknowledge our personal sin, but do we mourn that the Holy Spirit has been grieved and that we have committed treason against the holiness of God? Do we mourn over the sins of the nations, which God’s name is not hallowed and his person not treasured as the highest value in the universe?
We can find comfort that if we confess our sins that God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He not only comforts us with forgiveness but also in our afflictions (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). God’s comfort is an eternal comfort (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). And in eternity our mourning will be no more (Revelation 21:4).
Do you mourn over your sin and the sins of the nations?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Corinthians 7:10