The Second Beatitude
Bible Facts Newspaper Article (Ian C. Kurylyk)
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). This Beatitude, like the first, cuts across the grain of conventional worldly wisdom. The Lord is proclaiming blessedness from the perspective of His kingdom - a deeper, more genuine, lasting blessedness. And, according to this Beatitude, it is not just reserved for those who are partying or celebrating. In fact, it is reserved for those that mourn. In the thinking of this world, the two concepts of blessedness and mourning are irreconcilable; in the laws of God’s heavenly kingdom they are inseparable.
Notice that the blessing is not necessarily upon suffering. Some suffer in this life, yet may remain outside kingdom blessings. It might be said that all suffer in some measure, but not all are blessed. This Beatitude does not even pronounce blessing on sorrowing. There are kinds of sorrow that are actually self centered and unrepentant toward God. There is no expectation of blessing given for that either. The word used in our text is “mourn”, and its significance can be judged from its use in another passage of scripture. “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” (James 4:8-10).
This is the kind of mourning Jesus is speaking of , mourning over sin. This is the person who sees that no matter what else he is, has, or does, his life has been marred and defiled by sin. Sin hangs like a dark cloud casting a shadow on a person’s worst and his best. To mourn for sin is to see it in its offensiveness to God, its hurt to others, and its corruption and guilt to self.
It is common for people to avoid the message of this Beatitude and turn life into a big party with never a sober thought for the sin problem. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion ... That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:1a,4-6). The apostles also warned of living by the philosophy, “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” (I Corinthians 15:32c). That is no way to prepare for the day you die.
This Beatitude is not in praise of “doom and gloom” but is consistent with joy in God. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). In fact, the key to full blessing is Jesus Christ. Mourning over our sin leads us to God’s provision for the problem of sin, the salvation which is in Jesus Christ. There is no need to avoid facing the issue of sin. Many try that by immersing themselves in parties and pleasures. Alcohol is used to deaden the sense of a person’s sin and block out the contemplation of one day meeting God. The liquor bottle is a testimony of a man’s hopelessness. “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish” (Proverbs 31:6a). Amos spoke of “the wine of the condemned” in Amos 2:8. Far better to face our sins in godly sorrow and accept the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The Beatitude promises comfort, and this is given with the knowledge of sins forgiven now and the promise of eternal comforts in the next world.