Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
What does the word mourn mean? Ache. Bemoan. Brokenhearted. Cry. Grieve. Hurt. Lament. Lost. Moan. Regret. Undone. Weep. Those are the types of words I think of when I think of the word “mourn.” One of those words, however, caught my eye more than any others. Probably because I find it descriptive of mourning and a bit more formal than other words and visual more than anything else.
Undone means to be devastated by a setback. Undone means a disaster happened that reversed good fortune or the direction of our life we thought was good. When I personally think of the word I think of a ball that is nice and neatly wound together and is perfect. That ball would be good living, happy because of circumstances, relationships going well… whatever it might be. Then something happens or someone dies or there is a disaster and life grabs the end of the string and pulls and pulls and what I thought my life was unravels.
Perhaps the best example of using this word is from Isaiah 6:5 (KJV), “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
The NIV says (Isaiah 6:5), “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!”
The ESV says (Isaiah 6:5), “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost.”
Undone. Unraveled. Ruined. Lost.
The topic of the second beatitude is being undone and the promise of God in the midst of this feeling of being ruined or lost or unraveled. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling lost or like my life is in ruins. Most of the time we want our lives to be smooth sailing. Only good. Only calm. Only fullness and blessings. Only health. Only wealth.
Life is not that way. In fact, life is often harder than it needs to be. We have trials. We have loss. These circumstances many times bring us to a state of feeling undone. We are undone. I think most of you know what that feels like. I’d like to talk about two ways we feel undone that I believe this passage is focusing on. One is a way we don’t normally think of in this passage and one is the normal way we interpret this passage. I happen to think both are true.
UNDONE BY SINFULNESS
The first way that we can interpret this verse is in context and the beatitudes that Jesus teaches not as individual sayings, but as a progression. This leads us to the thought that we mourn over our sin. We are undone by our sinfulness because the first beatitude is about coming face-to-face with our sinfulness.
The first beatitude was about being “poor in spirit” and being “poor in spirit” means we understand our sinfulness before God and we accept our place in His order and Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This requires an acknowledgement of our utter sinfulness. This requires repentance. This might also mean that we see how we have not only wrecked our lives, but the lives of people that we claim we love. This means we mourn our sin.
It makes us mourn when the Holy Spirit shows us how our sinfulness hurt someone else.
It makes us feel lost when we understand we are not really a good person, but really sinful.
It makes us unraveled to have in our hearts that our default in life is sinfulness.
James 4:8-10 says clearly, “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
You and I indeed should be undone by our sinfulness.
We should be brokenhearted that we sin.
We should ache and have regret that our words destroy a person’s view of themselves and self-worth.
We should be wrecked that our anger overheats and we burn the people closest to us.
We should weep that our sinful examples of hate are passed on to our children and grandchildren.
We should grieve our addictions and the pain caused.
We hurt ourselves and others because of our sin and it should make us… undone.
Mourning because of our sin is quite important. It is an essential element in proper and good repentance. A person cannot repent if they don’t understand the severity of words or actions and how they are sinful and hurtful and destructive.
HOW DO WE MOURN FOR OUR SIN?
First, I think being undone by our sinfulness means we name our sins. You and I need to be specific when we talk about our sin to God and even when we ask for forgiveness from others. Mourning our sins means we name them and we do not give and excuses. No excuses. We sinned. We sinned against God. We sinned against ourselves. We sinned against others. Name it. Say it. Fess up to it specifically.
Second, I think being undone by our sinfulness means we are sorrowful over our sin. There is mourning that happens and sadness and sorrow because we have sinned. The cost of sin is high. We need to ache because of the sin debt we create. We have to be humble enough to admit that we have sinned and we then have to be sorry. We have to repent.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE MOURN FOR OUR SIN?
Let’s not forget the whole verse of Matthew 5:4. The first part talks about mourning while the second part talks about being comforted. What comfort is there when we realize our actions and words have cause pain in our lives and in the lives of others? What good are we? What use is there in even trying?
The hope and comfort comes from Jesus Christ. Righteousness is given to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness and justification of sin comes through Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22-25a says, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith.”
You and I need to find comfort in our sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. You and I are guilty guilty guilty of every single one of our sins. Yet, Jesus paid it all. You and I are hurtful hurtful hurtful to those around us. Yet, Jesus gives grace. The hope that we have… the power to change… the pathway to be more Godly… the miracle of restoring relationships and people we have torn down… is only Jesus.
So the first way of looking at Matthew 5:4 is not as traditional as the second way. It is completely true that you and I need to mourn our sin and mourn what we do to the people around us. The second way of looking at Matthew 5:4 is also completely true that God meets us in our mourning over death. Both are completely true.
UNDONE BY LOSS
The second way that we can interpret this verse is as an isolated truth that when we face loss or death, we become undone and God is right there with us with comfort. The reason I don’t have an issue with this is because it is also true that when you and I grieve the loss of someone in our lives, God brings us comfort. To be honest, that is how I normally view this verse.
It is absolutely true that when you and I are hurting, crying, hurt, lost, and undone over the loss of someone in our lives that God provides comfort for our hearts in the middle of that. Jesus teaches us in this verse that God brings us peace, comfort, and consolation. As I was doing some reading and praying, it was the word “consolation” that kept coming up.
“Console” means “to comfort.” “Consolation” means “the act of comforting.” I could not help but also think of the term “consolation prize” which means “you wanted one thing, but got something else.” Then it hit me…
We wanted our parent to still be alive, but instead we have the assurance that they are in Heaven.
We wanted to have our spouse with us, but instead we have strength from God to face the day.
We wanted our child and to see them grow, but we have hope in eternal life in Christ.
We live life with loss and hardship and trials, but in the midst of those God promises that He will be with us. He gives us consolation that the one we have lost is cared for far more than they ever could have been cared for in this life. For example, if a person dies and they are a Christian, there is absolute assurance that they are with God through the blood of Christ.
Be consoled that Jesus makes that sure.
Be consoled Jesus makes that finished.
Be consoled that Jesus takes care of those we have lost.
That is comforting and is the tradeoff for they are not with us, but they are with Jesus. That. Is. comfort.
THE GREAT PROMISE OF REVELATION 7:17
I’d like to finish thinking through Matthew 5:4 by referencing one other verse. It is a verse in the Book of Revelation which has so many promises for us. Revelation 7:17 is a verse that promises comfort for those who mourn. It could be mourning because of sin. It could be mourning because of loss. It matters not why you mourn for God meets us in our undone state no matter the circumstances or reason for our broken heart.
This promise of comfort is rooted in the Lamb of God Who is Jesus Christ. That Lamb of God is in the midst of the throne ruling as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and sovereign over everything. He is all powerful and all knowing. He provides leadership and life. He provides meaning for our thirsty souls.
The verse says to us in no uncertain terms that God wipes away ALL tears. He can do that!
The verse says to us in no uncertain terms that God wipes away EVERY tear. He can do that!
Revelation 7:17 (KJV)
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Let that sink in.
Revelation 7:17 (MSG)
The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.
Let that sink in.
Revelation 7:17 (ESV)
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Let that sink in.
Our God is amazing and comforts those who mourn. When we are wrecked because of our sinfulness, He gives us more grace and the blood of Jesus Christ to comfort us. Forgiveness soothes our souls. Grace is given. When we are lost because someone nearest and dearest to us has died, He gives us the assurance of Heaven for the believer and His peaceful presence for us. Praise God for blessed are those who mourn for He comforts us!