When we read, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4), we tend to think about times of sadness and grief.
When a loved one dies. When someone experiences chronic illness. When troubles seem to surround us on every side.
In the midst of those experiences, we mourn and we also experience the comfort of God. We serve the gracious, glorious God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction.
But I don’t think that Jesus is talking that kind of mourning in Matthew 5:4. He’s talking about something else altogether, and when we understand this kind of mourning and the grace we receive, it transforms our lives.
We truly can say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
In order to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn,” we need to look at the words immediately before.
In Matthew 5:3 he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The poor in spirit are those who recognize their need for Jesus as Savior. The poor in Spirit realize that they are profoundly broken sinners who stand before a holy God and are unable to contribute anything to their salvation. They understand that apart from the saving grace of God, they are doomed to destruction for their sin.
This deep sense of sinfulness and the staggering holiness of God produces poverty in Spirit. An overwhelming sense of unworthiness. The conviction that God alone is our hope and our salvation.
When we embrace this truth, it leads us directly to the cross, where we see Jesus, crucified for our sins. We see how much God loves us — so much so that he gave up his supremely precious and glorious son. When we are poor in Spirit, it causes us to run to Jesus as our only hope.
As the classic hymn says:
Nothing in my hands I bring
Simply to thy cross I cling
Now, what does all this have to do with Jesus’ statement, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”?
When we realize the staggering salvation that we have received in Jesus Christ, it causes us to want to pursue holiness. We want to be more like Jesus, and we want God to shape us into his image. We hate the sin that dwells within us and we grieve over all the times we fail to obey God.
In other words, we mourn our own sinfulness.
Warren Wiersbe says:
We mourn over sin and despise it. We see sin the way God sees it and seek to treat it the way God does. Those who cover sin or defend sin certainly have the wrong attitude.
The unbeliever doesn’t mourn his sinfulness. He delights in sin. The Christian, on the other hand, deeply resonates with Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
In Galatians 5:17, Paul says:
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
When we do the things we don’t want to do, we mourn over our sin. We feel a deep sense of regret and even grief. We want to pursue Jesus with all our hearts, and when we see just how far short we fall, we experience a deep sense of mourning.
Of course, all this raises a hugely important question: why does Jesus say BLESSED are those who mourn?
How can there be blessing when we mourn over sin?
Because in our mourning, we experience the forgiving grace of God.
For They Shall Be Comforted
It’s a staggering truth. Sin is fundamentally offensive to God. When we sin, we are saying to God, “I believe that my ways are better than your ways and I choose to go my way instead of your way.”
When we sin, we hurt God and break his heart. And so we mourn.
And yet there is also a sweet promise for us in our mourning. Jesus promises that God himself will comfort us when we mourn over our sin.
In 1 John 1:9 it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When we mourn over our sins and confess them to God, something absolutely astounding happens.
God forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Our relationship with God is restored and we have fresh fellowship with God.
There is a deep sweetness to repentance. We experience the grace and forgiveness of God in a unique way. God comforts us, assuring us that we are his, that our forgiveness is secure because of the gospel, and that nothing can separate us from his love.
When we repent of our sins, the Holy Spirit himself assures us that God has forgiven us and cleansed us from all unrighteousness.
Isn’t that amazingly good news? Though we sin daily and we mourn daily, we can also experience the sweet, comforting grace of repentance daily. Every day, we can have fresh fellowship with God, even
Charles Spurgeon put it this way:
Rowland Hill used to say that the only thing that he should be sorry to leave when he went to heaven was that sweet, lovely, sorrowful grace of repentance. He supposed he could not repent in heaven, but it was such a sweet experience to keep on repenting that he would wish to repent forever.
When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he is inviting us into the sweet, grace-filled life of repentance. Repentance is not a bad thing reserved for the worst of sinners. Rather, repentance is something we do every single day, knowing that we’ll experience the powerful, sweet grace of God.
Let Us Joyfully Mourn
As Christians, there is a sense where we joyfully mourn over our sins. We mourn that we are not more like Christ. We mourn over the sinful desires and motives that dwell in us.
But we don’t mourn as those who have no hope. We mourn our sins with joy, knowing that in God we find abundant, overwhelming, sweet forgiveness.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Let us joyfully mourn our sins every day so that we may experience the overwhelming comfort that comes with repentance of sin.