In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord is teaching about the kingdom of God and is describing the characteristics of the citizen of the Kingdom. After saying that the blessed person is poor in spirit, Jesus declares, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)” I want to take some time to consider this topic of mourning and understand what Jesus is teaching us. We will see that there is great blessing concealed in mourning.
Now as we consider this passage, it would seem that mourning could only be a blessing if there was a remedy for the mourning. In other words, if there was a remedy or a relief from what caused the mourning, then in some sense this might be considered a blessing.
But that is not what Jesus is saying here. Here in this verse, Jesus is saying that there is a certain kind of mourning which actually produces blessing. O, how can this be? How can there be a mourning that produces blessing? For mourning is a groan from the depths (Psalm 130:1). We mourn over those events and circumstances that hit us at the very core of our emotions. We feel utter despair and yet we feel helpless to change the thing bringing despair.
Misery and wretchedness and aching grief are the feelings which are associated with mourning. Then how can we mourn to produce blessedness? What manner of mourning is this?
But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, declares, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” How can this be? The answer is as profound as it is straightforward. To paraphrase: “Blessed are those who mourn over their own personal sin, for they will be forgiven of their sin, they will be cleansed of their unrighteousness and they will be reconciled to the Holy One.” Jesus is talking about the blessing that comes from that initial mourning over personal sin and the subsequent repentance that results in the salvation of the sinner.
This mourning that produces blessing is a mourning over sin both tangible and palpable. It is a misery and a guilt that is felt at the bottom of your soul. As we would mourn over catastrophe and devastating loss, so we must mourn over our sin.
Mourning is an emotional experience, and he who would experience the blessing of forgiveness must first endure the wretchedness of bearing and acknowledging the guilt of his sin.
This mourning is the goad that leads to repentance. Indeed, Paul refers to this mourning as “being ‘made sorrowful to the point of repentance.’” (2 Cor. 7:9-10) Mourning and repentance overlap, with repentance almost inevitably and irresistibly following genuine mourning over sin.
This mourning over sin demands relief. “Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24).” “God, be merciful to me, the sinner. (Luke 18:13)” The crushing weight of my personal sin cannot be borne long. “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips. (Isaiah 6:5)” When I have seen the blazing holiness of the Lord God and then have felt the depths of my utter unholiness, I am led to mourning. When my sin and wickedness were hidden from my awareness, their weight could be easily borne, but when I have acknowledged my sin (Psalm 32:5) and I have thus brought all my iniquity and my evil into the light, I quickly realize that the weight of my sin and shame is overwhelming and I cannot bear that weight. I must find deliverance. I must give the burden of all that sin to someone who is able to bear it, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is able to bear all my sin so that I do not.
So I mourn my sin, which leads me to confession and repentance and faith in Christ, which transfers my sin to my glorious Savior and conveys to me the blessing of forgiveness and righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
It is mourning over sin that makes my scarlet sins as white as snow and my crimson iniquity as white as wool. Isaiah 1:18
It is mourning that sets me free from sin. 1 Peter 4:1; Romans 6:7; John 8:36
It is this mourning over my sin that justifies me before a holy God. Luke 18:13-14
Have you ever mourned over your sin? Have you ever felt the misery and the wretchedness of your iniquity? Have you ever lamented your own sin to the point of crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness? If not, realize that today is the day of salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ declares that those who mourn are blessed. I urge you to receive that blessing today. SDG rmb 10/29/2016