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Mourning is the appropriate emotional response to being poor in spirit. When you realize that life is not what it should be and you are not the kind of person you should be, the appropriate response is to weep over it.
- The Sermon on the Mount is a very important body of teaching given by Jesus at a time when he was very popular.
- Jesus intends to show his disciples the issues they will face if they want to be children of God.
- Jesus contrasts his teaching with the teaching of the Pharisees.
- Luke 6 is the same sermon given in shorter version. We can use Luke to understand Matthew and vice versa.
- Jesus speaks cryptically. He makes concise provocative statements that we must think about to understand.
- Jesus makes strong categorical, black and white statements that ultimately reflect the end of a process of struggle, growth and maturity.
- In the beatitudes, Jesus confronts us with fundamental convictions of saving faith.
Each beatitude has 4 features:
- A beatitude tells us WHO is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us WHY such a person is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us ONLY these people are blessed.
- There is something surprising or ironic about these people being blessed.
In the first beatitude Jesus said: “Only those who know in their spirits that they are poor, only those who know that true riches are to be found in the kingdom of God stand to inherit that kingdom.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” – Luke 6:21
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” – Luke 2:25
- To be blessed is to be a person for whom good things are coming because I am in God’s favor.
- We normally wish to avoid being in a state of mourning.
- Jesus is not saying sadness is temporary. Rather, his point is those who mourn in this life will be comforted in the next life. Luke adds the word “now” to make this future facing aspect clear.
- The teacher’s temptation is to pour everything we know about mourning into the text.
- Is this any kind of mourning? To answer that question, we need to know what the rest of the beatitudes talk about and what we find in the rest of Scripture.
1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:1-10
- James wrote to Jewish congregations who claimed to be believers, but their lives did not show it.
- He describes them as: quarreling; indulging their pleasure; murderous and coveting; friends with the world, rather than with God; sinners and double minded.
- James 4:9 contains similar language to our beatitude.
- James encourages them to humble themselves before the Lord so that the Lord will exalt them later.
- They should be mourning over the things they are currently happy about. In their hearts they are “rich in spirit” because they think they have it all. But in reality they have nothing, and they should be mourning.
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. – 1Corinthians 5:1-2
- The church is aware of this act of immorality among them. Their reaction is becoming arrogant.
- The Corinthians think they are enlightened, and that they have more understanding about sexuality than Paul, the apostles and the prophets.
- Paul says the thing this are pointing to with arrogant satisfaction is the very thing they should be mourning over.
- Rather than delighting in this sinful situation, they should be mourning over it.
- These 2 examples show us that mourning is the appropriate emotional response to our sinfulness (i.e. to recognizing that you are poor in spirit).
- Mourning over sin is the first step to repentance.
- People of saving faith grieve over their sins precisely because they have learned to love the holiness of God.
- The more we grow in wisdom and maturity, the more we see the depth of our sin, and the more we mourn.
- The day is coming when God will fully and finally solve the problem of sin, death and futility through His Messiah.
- People of faith will be comforted then because the very thing we mourn over now will be no more.
- Compare with Isaiah 11:1-9 and Isaiah 12:1-2.
Those who are in this seemingly undesirable situation of knowing they are spiritually bankrupt are actually fortunate because they and they alone will inherit the true riches found in the kingdom of heaven.
Likewise, those who have an appropriate sadness, because they have recognized they are sinful and rebellious people, will be comforted in the kingdom of God because they will no longer be sinful, rebellious people.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
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Series: Gospel of Matthew: Behold, the King!
Resources: Matthew Resources
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