In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (located in chapters 5 through 7 of the gospel of Matthew) Jesus shared eight beatitudes with His listeners. The first, which I wrote on a few weeks ago, states “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” The reader must remember that Jesus is sharing spiritual truths relative to His coming kingdom, and how to live these kingdom truths here and now. He is not saying that only poor people can enter heaven. He is teaching that those who recognize that they are spiritually impoverished and turn to Him will inherit heaven.
The second beatitude found in Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Again, one must bring a spiritual mindset to this passage in order to accurately grasp the meaning, because frankly speaking, grief and mourning are no blessing. CS Lewis, speaking of grief, said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” While we recognize that family, friends, and God come alongside during these times, grief is not blessed – it is difficult and painful! Moreover, I have known and ministered to many, whose grief has been so profound and persistent that it remained essentially unmassaged; in fact, some of them have carried their pain and anguish to the grave. So what was Jesus teaching here?
The second beatitude is linked to the first. The first beatitude speaks of our spiritual impoverishment. In recognizing our being “poor in spirit”…spiritually needy with inner shortcomings, we turn to God. And in that moment of turning to Him, we do mourn…and the mourning is for the dead. However, the dead that we are mourning in this case, is our own spiritual deadness; the deadness that Ephesians 2:1 speaks of when it says that before believing in Christ, “we are dead in trespasses and sins.”
If the second beatitude mentioned only mourning it would be a negative, perhaps even a disparaging commentary…however, there is a second portion and it contains a promise. The one, who recognizing their spiritual poverty and experiencing deep grief over the same “will be comforted.”
Coming to Christ in our weakness and frailty results in comfort. Sharing our faith in Christ and what He means to us with others, results in comfort for them and simultaneously consoles us. Definitive and ultimate comfort takes place futuristically when in His kingdom, all mourning comes to cessation because “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…” (2 Corinthians: 1:4,5).