Tuesday, July 03, 2012

What Did Jesus Teach - Blessed are the Mourners

The next Beatitude Jesus gives is “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Jesus is continuing His statements of what a truly happy and fortunate person is like and here He hits us with one that makes very little sense to modern Americans. Jesus is not speaking here about mourning over some tragedy such as the death of a loved one. He is speaking of mourning over our sinful condition and poverty of spirit.

In the prophet Joel we read, “'Now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.' So rend your heart, and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12-13)

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote something similar, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:8-10)

Now that sounds encouraging, doesn't it! Who wants to be told to have their laughter turned to mourning. Both Joel and James sound like those old mean preachers of a previous century who were trying to make everybody depressed and take all of the fun out of life.

Jesus said that He had come to give abundant life. (John 10:10) But what Jesus knows is that we came into this world in lost condition. We are born rebels and we kick against the way God made the world and the way He wants us to live in it. We are determined to be our own king and master and we will not have God or anyone else rule over us. The problem with this is that it doesn't work. God made the universe to function a certain way under certain guiding principles. Just like there are laws of science, there are spiritual laws that govern how we function best. Until we are ready to humble ourselves, recognize that we are poor in spirit and mourn over our failure to live up to God's standards and to bring our lives into line with the way things actually are, we will never be able to know the happiness that God is very willing to provide.

The good news is that those who mourn in this way will be comforted. There is relief from the right kind of mourning. Jesus says, “Happy is that man who has come to recognize this truth.” As long as we continue blindly through life assuming that the fun we are having is the true happiness, we will fall short of God's plan for us and will ultimately loose everything. As Jesus says later on, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

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