The Beatitudes: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “To ‘mourn’ is something that follows of necessity from being ‘poor in spirit.’ It is quite inevitable. As I confront God and His holiness and contemplate the life that I am meant to live, I see myself, my utter helplessness and hopelessness. I discover my quality of spirit and immediately that makes me mourn. I must mourn about the fact that I am like that. But obviously it does not stop there. A man who truly faces himself, and examines himself and his life, is a man who must of necessity mourn for his sins.”
What does it mean to “mourn”?
When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn.” He is speaking of a deep grief before God over our fallen state. Every true disciple of Christ should feel great pain from rebelling against God and His revealed will. Those who are poor in spirit will passionately weep over their shortcomings. They will lament over their failures. They will mourn over their sin. It has been said, “The man who is lamenting is actually repenting.” True mourning will lead to godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to true repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).
The word repentance in the Bible literally means “the act of changing one’s mind.” Eerdmans Bible Dictionary includes this definition of repentance: “In its fullest sense it is a term for a complete change of orientation involving a judgment upon the past and a deliberate redirection for the future.”
Repentance in the Old Testament was demonstrated through rituals such as fasting, wearing sackcloth, sitting in ashes, wailing, and laments that expressed strong sorrow for sin. A great example of this is found in Jonah chapter 3 when Nineveh repents at the preaching of Jonah. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.”
A true mourner will mourn over their sin and its effects because they understand the seriousness of sin, but it does not end with their own sin. A righteous mourner will mourn the sins of others. This is level of spiritual maturity we must all reach. The Christian that mourns over their sins does not stop with themselves. They see the same thing in others. They are concerned about the state of society, and the state of the world. They are heartbroken over the sins of man.
Our Lord Himself mourned over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus wept over Jerusalem at least three times. Luke 13 tells us about a day when He wept over the city before arriving there, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:34 – 35)!
Luke also tells us about Jesus’ weeping over the city as He entered into it: “If you had known on this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42 – 44).
Matthew 23 records a sermon Jesus preached in Jerusalem just a few days before He was crucified, and at the conclusion (vv. 37–39) we read words almost identical to those of His lament in Luke 13. Why was Jesus weeping over Jerusalem? Jesus was weeping over the tragedy of a lost opportunity. He was weeping because He is not willing that any should perish.
Paul had the same feeling toward those in Corinth: “I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, corruption and sensuality which they have practiced” (I Corinthians 12:21).
Biblical examples of men who “mourned”
Godly sorrow was felt by: David, as he grieved over his adulterous behavior with Bathsheba (Ps. 51:1 – 17). Notice David’s plea for forgiveness:
● “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity” (v. 2)
● “Cleanse me from my sin” (v. 2)
● “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (v. 7)
● “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7).
● “Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice” (v. 8).
When was that last time you pleaded with God to: wash, clean, and purify you? When was the last time you prayed for God to cleanse and renew your heart? When you sin against God how do you feel? Do you weep and plead with God to help restore the joy of salvation?
Another example we have is the prodigal son who, in the pig pen of sin, “came to himself” (Luke 15:11 – 24). Lastly, the incestuous man in the Corinthian church (I Cor. 5:1 – 13; 2 Cor. 2:5 – 8) who was guilty of being with his father’s wife. This man had sinned greatly against God and the church, but the sin he committed against the Lord and the church broke his heart and and he repented.
What is the promised blessing to those who “mourn?”
Those who mourn over their own sins and the sins of others shall be comforted. When we choose to “mourn” our sins, we are promised heavenly comfort. This comfort includes the forgiveness of all our past sins [following obedience to the Gospel] (Acts 2:38) and the forgiveness of all our present and future sins [predicted upon our confession] (I John 1:8 – 10).
When you look at the cross. One of the greatest functions of the Cross is to open the eyes of men and women to the horror of sin. And when a man sees sin in all its horror, he cannot do anything else but experience intense sorrow for his sin. The man or woman who is intensely sorry for their sin will indeed experience true comforted in this life. The Bible teaches; the broken and the contrite heart God will never despise (Ps. 51:17). I pray that we will allow this Beatitude to refine our character and make us more like Christ