Beatitude #2: Blessed are those who mourn… (Matthew 5:4)

A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 6 Feb 2011

Intro – MR. SIMON (Oldie by Ken Medema – Son Shiny Day)

There’s a man I’d really like for you to know
Mr. Simon is his name, and folks like him so
He’s got friends in all the nicest parts of town
His name is known all around

Well, every Sunday morning when the bells begin to ring
Mr. Simon’s at the church; that’s where he does his thing
He loves to join the lovelies who’ve come to praise the Lord
He loves to hear the people singing all in one accord

When Mr. Simon prays in church he’s always heard
You note his every elegantly spoken word
And every time he gets the chance he prays out loud
He loves the church; he loves the crowd

Well, every Sunday morning…

While Mr. Simon’s uttering his pious prayer
There’s one who sits in back who seems quite unaware
You see him kneeling, and you hear him softly cry,
“Lord, I’m no good at all. Lord, have mercy on me.
Lord, I have sinned against You. Lord, have mercy on me.”

Well, Simon did you see that man in church today
Kneeling, weeping in a most peculiar way?
Yes, I hear his reputation’s not so fine
I’m glad his reputation isn’t mine

Well, every Sunday morning…

Two men walked into the church upon that Sunday morn
One left slightly wrinkled; the other left reborn


5:1 And when He saw the crowds, He went up to the mountain,

      and when He sat down, his disciples came up to Him.

5:2 And when He opened His mouth, He began teaching them, saying,

5:3 “Blessed are the ones who are lowly in spirit,

            because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

5:4 “Blessed are the ones who mourn,

            because it is they who will be comforted.

(Other scripture citations below are from the NASB)

Beatitude #2 - What does it mean to be a mourner? (πενθουντες) (v.4)

A)    This mourning is related to spiritual poverty:

1)      JFB: Second beatitude is complement of the first, for “poor in spirit” is intellectual whereas “mourning” is the emotional aspect of the same thing.

2)      Calvin calls the second beatitude an “appendage” to the first

B)    Thayer Definition: 1) to mourn 2) to mourn for, lament one

C)    Vincent brings out the fact that this is grief demonstrated outwardly. There is a place for showing grief.

D)    This also is a character trait shown by our Lord which we imitate:

1)      (Isa 53:3) a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

2)      Jesus wept (John 11:35)

E)    Biblical instances:

1. Over the death of a loved one:

a.       Abraham mourned at Sarah’s death Gen 23:2 (cf. Psa 35:14, 2Sam 14:2)

b.      Jacob mourned what he thought was the death of his son Joseph Gen 37:34-35, and later, all Egypt wept for him for 70 days when he really did die Gen 50:3

c.       David mourned the death of his son Absalom 2Sam 19:1

d.      Ephraim mourned the murder of his son Elad 1Chr 7:22

e.       All Judah and Jerusalem mourned at the death of King Josiah 2Chr 35:24

f.       And the disciples were mourning & weeping after Jesus died on the cross Mark 16:10.

g.      This could go for any sense of loss which brings us to a realization of our mortality and finiteness and our need to depend upon a God who is eternal and all-powerful.

h.      ATR: “There can be no comfort where there is no grief. Sorrow should make us look for the heart and hand of God and so find the comfort latent in the grief.”

2. Over the consequences of sin, God’s terrible punishment

a.       The people of Israel who had made it out of Egypt mourned when they realized that their fear of entering the Promised Land would result in their generation dying in the wilderness (Num 14:39)

b.      The people of Israel mourned when God poured out His wrath on Beth-shemesh for violating the sanctity of the Ark of the Covenant and struck over 50 thousand men dead (1Sam 6:19)

c.       The continued “wickedness” of Israel as they “transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant,” led Isaiah to prophecy that God would bring destruction to punish Jerusalem and make her mourn: “And her gates will lament and mourn, And deserted she will sit on the ground.” (Isa 24:4-7, Isa 3:26, cf. Psa 78:63, Isa 16:8 in LXX),

d.      which is exactly what Jeremiah later describes came to pass: "Judah mourns And her gates languish; They sit on the ground in mourning, And the cry of Jerusalem has ascended.” (Jer 14:2, Jer 12:4, cf. Lam 1:4, 2:8) “For the land is full of adulterers; For the land mourns because of the curse. The pastures of the wilderness have dried up. Their course also is evil And their might is not right.” (Jer 23:10)

e.       God also promised to bring Egypt (Isa 19:8) and Lebanon (Isa 33:9) into mourning as He brought judgment on them too (cf Jer 4:28).

f.       Other prophets – Hosea, Ezekiel, Joel, and Amos also prophecied of the terrible things that God would bring upon the land of Israel “Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, And everyone who lives in it languishes Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, And also the fish of the sea disappear.” (Hos 4:1-3, cf Eze 31:15)

g.      “The LORD roars from Zion And from Jerusalem He utters His voice; And the shepherds' pasture grounds mourn, And the summit of Carmel dries up….  9:5 The Lord GOD of hosts, The One who touches the land so that it melts, And all those who dwell in it mourn…” (Amos 1:2, cf Amos 8:8, Joel 1:9-10)

h.      And sure enough it happened. When Nehemiah, the Jewish cupbearer to the King of Persia, heard that his hometown of Jerusalem had been decimated he “sat down and wept and mourned for days… fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Neh 1:4)

i.        Jeremiah described it in the book of Lamentations, saying, “The roads of Zion are in mourning Because no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests are groaning, Her virgins are afflicted, And she herself is bitter. (Lam 1:4, cf. 2:8)

j.        And that wouldn’t be the last time God brings judgment against sin that would make people mourn: The apostle John prophecied in the 1st century AD that people would mourn over the destruction of another city called Babylon, saying, “Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!” (Rev 18:11, cf Luk 6:25)

k.      Hendriksen: “Godly sorrow turns the soul toward God. God in turn, grants comfort to those who seek their help from Him.”
Calvin: “The blessed life is aided by grief; that by this means they are trained to see the eternal joy, and by these stimuli induced to seek their abiding comfort in God and no other. Thus Paul (Rom 5:3-5 …we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…”)

l.        It is true that in many cases, people are rebellious against God and end up in anguish because God drops the hammer on them, but they never get right with God. Those are not the ones who are blessed.
The ones who are blessed are the ones who strayed into sin and were clobbered by the consequences of their sin, but then responded to the brokenness and pain by recognizing that it was their own sin that caused the problem in the first place and that God was mercifully getting their attention through discipline and causing them to have a change of heart and repent of their disregard of God. These are the ones who are blessed with the comfort of reconciliation with God, even though they have had to go through the pain of mourning.

3. Over the rebellion and sin of other people:

a.       The prophet Samuel mourned when King Saul did not utterly destroy the Amelekites as God had commanded, but disobeyed God by saving some things (1Sam 15:35)

b.      When Absalom tried to usurp David’s throne, David mourned for his son (2Sam 13:37)
He also wrote, “Streams of water run down my eyes because they do not observe Your law” (Psalm 119:136)

c.       Hosea later prophesied that the Israelites would mourn over their idol-worship of the golden calves that King Jereboam had set up for them (Hosea 10:5)

d.      Indeed, that prophecy came true, because later we find the prophet Daniel in chapter 10 of his book mourning “for three entire weeks” and confessing the sin of his people after they had been exiled to Babylon for 70 years.

e.       The apostle James would later write “to the 12 tribes dispersed abroad” who were walking in sin and “double-mindedness,” treating each other with “pride,” slander and unholy “favoritism”: “Be miserable and mourn# and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.” (James 4:9)

f.       And Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that they should have mourned over the sin of the church member who was violating his father’s wife (1Cor 5:2)

g.      Then Paul prepares to “mourn# over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.” (2Cor 12:21)

h.      Those who mourn in this way have a different kind of pain – the pain of seeing loved ones disobey God, but those who are faithful to God and who lovingly warn the people around them against sin are blessed to know the peace that passes understanding and are blessed to be able to see fruit to their labours when they see some people repent of their sin and trust in Jesus. When Samuel, David, James, and Paul died, they had no regrets and were satisfied with a life spent in service to God’s purposes. That’s a blessing.

What does it mean to be comforted? (ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται)

o       Parakalew - Thayer Definition: 1) to call to one’s side, call for, summon, 2) to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc. 2a) to admonish, exhort 2b) to beg, entreat, beseech 2b1) to strive to appease by entreaty 2c) to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort 2c1) to receive consolation, be comforted 2d) to encourage, strengthen 2e) exhorting and comforting and encouraging 2f) to instruct, teach

o       This indicates not the numbing comfort of a drug, but the personal comfort of companionship.

o       Emphatic subject - “they themselves/it is they who will be comforted”

o       Only other passive future occurrence in the Bible is Isa 66:10-13 "Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her…  For thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.’”

o       cf. Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord has sent me… To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Parakalew in the Old Testament

1.      Many passages speak of the comfort that friends gave upon the death of a loved one:

§         Gen 24:67 Then Isaac… took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

§         Gen 37:35 Then all his [Jacob’s] sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him [over the supposed death of Joseph]

§         2Sam 10:2 Then David said, "I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me." So David sent some of his servants to console him concerning his father. But when David's servants came to the land of the Ammonites,

§         2Sam 12:24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon…

§         1Chr 7:22 Their father Ephraim mourned many days, and his relatives came to comfort him.

2.      Then there are passages about the comfort of a benefactor after calamity

§         Joseph to his brothers: Gen 50:21 "So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

§         Deut 32:36 "For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.

§         Judges 2:18 When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them.

§         Judges 21:6 And the sons of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin and said, "One tribe is cut off from Israel today.

§         Ruth 2:13 Then she said, "I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

§         Job 2:11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. (cf. Job 21:34)

§         Job 4:3 "Behold you have admonished many, And you have strengthened weak hands… 29:25 "I chose a way for them and sat as chief, And dwelt as a king among the troops, As one who comforted the mourners.

§         Job 42:11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold.

§         Psa 69:20 Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, And for comforters, but I found none.

§         Eccl 4:1 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.

§         Lots of examples of false friends trying to comfort wrongly Zec 10:2 For the teraphim speak iniquity, And the diviners see lying visions And tell false dreams; They comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep, They are afflicted, because there is no shepherd.

3.      And there are those whom God comforts as they trust in Him

§         Exo 15:13 "In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.”

§         Deut 3:28 'But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.'

§         Esther 5:2 When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter.

§         Psa 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

§         Psa 71:21 May You increase my greatness And turn to comfort me.

§         Psa 86:17 Show me a sign for good, That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

§         Psa 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me… 52 I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself.

§         Psa 119:76 O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.

§         Psa 126:1 When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream.

§         Psa 135:14 For the LORD will judge His people And will have compassion on His servants.

§         Isa 35:4 Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you."

§         Isa 38:16 "O Lord, by these things men live, And in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live!

§         Isa 40:1-2 "Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. "Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD'S hand Double for all her sins."

§         Isa 40:11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

§         Isa 49:10-13 "They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water… Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted.

§         Isa 51:3-12  Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody… 12 I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass…

§         Isa 57:18 "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,

§         Isa 61:2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

NT occurances of parakalew

removing instances of “urge, beseech, request” and of “preach, admonish, call down” Mentioned earlier in Matthew regarding consolation after the loss of a loved one

§         Mat 2:18 "a voice was heard in ramah, weeping and great mourning, rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more."

§         Acts 20:12 [After Eutychus fellow out of the window and died during Paul’s seminar and Paul went down and attended to him] They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.

A)     Used to describe God’s ministry to us:

§         Father: 2Cor 1:3-7 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 so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God… But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;

§         Son: 2Thess 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

§         and Holy Spirit: John 14:16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (paraklete), that He may be with you forever”

§         Those who mourn because they are poor in spirit before God will be comforted by God Himself because that is what He does!

B)     Is a spiritual gift to be exercised by God’s people:

§         Rom 12:6-8 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

§         1Cor 14:31 you can all prophesy one by one , so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

o       People who had this gift and exercised it in the New Testament:

§         Barnabus in the new church at Antioch: Acts 11:20-22 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus… The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord;

§         Paul: Col 2:1-2 …I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

§         Titus - 2Cor 7:5-7 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more… 13 For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.

§         Tychicus: Eph 6:21b-22 …Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. (cf. Col 4:7-8 …Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant… in the Lord, will bring you information. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts)

§         Timothy: 1Thess 3:2-7 we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith… now that Timothy has come to us from you and had brought us good news of your faith and love… we were comforted about you…

§         For those who mourn because they are poor in spirit, God will send specially-gifted men and women to them to comfort them.

C)    Used of John the Baptizer preaching the Gospel:

§         Luke 3:16-18 John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 18 So with many other exhortations he [John] preached the gospel to the people.

D)    Used of teaching ministry in established churches:

§         Turkey: Acts 14:21b-22 …[Paul & Barnabas] returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

§         Syria: Acts 15:32 Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren [in Antioch] with a lengthy message.

§         Greece: Acts 16:40 They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

§         Acts 20:1-2 After the uproar [in the theater at Ephesus] had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece.

§         Thessalonians: 1Thess 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

E)     Describes the manner of speech to be used by Christians:

§         Acts 27:33-34 Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all [the sailors in the storm] to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing. Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish."

§         1Cor 4:13a when we are slandered, we try to conciliate...

§         1Cor 16:12 But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

§         Heb 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

§         But when one does fall into sin and repents: 2Cor 2:7 …you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

§         2Cor 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

§         Equated with meeting together as a church: Heb 10:24-25 Let us consider how not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

§         Those who mourn over their sin and look to God for salvation will hear the gospel preached to them and will be comforted by God’s word as they continue to hear it preached in the assemblies of the church!

§         It will come NOW with trust in Him during uncomfortable times,
and it will come in FUTURE in heaven, when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

F)     Used to describe the blessedness of living in heaven after we die

§         Luke 16:25 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’”

§         We are even told to remind each other of the comfort of heaven to come: 1Thess 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout… and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

§         This comfort is future “Blessed are those who mourn because they will be comforted”

“Sometimes the comfort comes from the affliction itself being removed…. Often however, the affliction remains for a while, but a weight of glory outbalances the grief (2 Cor 4:17; 12:8-9) ~Hendriksen

CONCLUSION: Story of Pastor Rick Vasquez and the death of Melinda.

His sermon on Heidelberg Catechism Q#1 was his most powerful.
What is your only comfort in life and death? That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yes, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, wherefore by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.”