Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Good morning. It’s an honor to be here with you this morning. Uh, we’re going to be again in Matthew chapter five through seven. Um, this is the sermon on the Mount, the sermon we’ve called it the most significant, uh, most weighty. Most lengthy sermon that we have from Christ. Even if you go there and your own Bibles, crinkle the pages a little bit so that when you open your scripture, it falls often to this place.
This is a dear dear passage. And as we begin, I realized I just choked myself with my microphone cable. So.
I think that worked Matthew five through seven, we’re going to read, we’re gonna be focusing on the beatitudes, the eight first statements that Christ made giving the values of the kingdom of God. And we’ll eventually get to the rest of the sermon, giving what life looks like practically in the kingdom of God.
But as we read, I’m going to begin again from the beginning. Of Matthew five and then go through verse four, which is what we’ll focus on this morning. Now, when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain side and sat down. His disciples, came to him and he began to teach them. He said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Father we come before you today in recognition of your message, recognizing that it is so shockingly different from the message that we often give to one another, from the messages that we find in, in the cultures of the world, we recognize this different, beautiful, tangible, Gift that you’ve given us in your word and we pray, uh, we’d be with you this morning as we spend this time together in Jesus name.
Amen. Couple of things that we first off, well, let me just say. I know that there are certain passages that we opened two in the scripture. And if you’ve been around the scripture while there are certain ones that you’re like, Oh, yes, I love, I love this one. When I, when we hit Romans eight, it’s like, It’s going to be good.
Right. And then when you hit one of those things about like, uh, confessing or sin, you’re like, Oh boy, I wonder how this is going to go. Right. And that’s just being honest, when it comes to a verse like this blessed are those who mourn. I think it has tendency for some people to lean in and some people to lean out.
And what I just want to say is no matter how you approach this morning, I’m really glad that you’re here and believe either way that you approach is okay. Two routes that we want to give is we’re in this series, in this thing, this, what we talked about these last week with these beatitudes, with this whole sermon in Matthew five, six, and seven, the first route is the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven, as it’s talked about in the verse three, and then again in the eighth be attitude. What this is, this kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven is used all over scripture. Jesus came to teach the good news of the gospel to teach the good news of themself, but he also came specifically, it says in scripture, many times in the new Testament to preach.
The kingdom of God. Here are a couple of verses that bookend our passage in Matthew five through seven first, Matthew four 23 says this Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Among the people. And then by Matthew nine, we have this, Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
This good news of the kingdom is not talking about a happy place that people go when they die. It’s talking about the reality of Jesus’s reign and his ultimate. Benevolent kingship over his people. Now there is a physical kingdom that is coming revelation 20 talks much about that, but Christ came to teach and preach the good news of the spiritual kingdom of God, which is here.
Now true spiritual life begins as an inside reality. It begins as a community of people living out what it means to follow this radical King that takes the principles of the world and says, I’m going to turn them upside down. The upside down life is the kingdom life. And these beatitudes have the most dense teaching about the values of the kingdom of anywhere.
I believe the scripture second root thing we want to know. The kingdom of God is just talking about how the kingdom of God operates. Second thing. Is this word Makarios or blessed? Each one of these verses begins with blessed or new Greek Makarios. We said this last week that this word means happiness or fortune wellbeing, but it’s not just any type of happiness.
It’s not a generic. Happy word. It’s a word. That means that it was mostly used by Greek scholars to refer to a specific happiness that was only known by the gods. Like Ambrosia is the food or drink of the gods Makarios. Was known as the happiness or wellbeing of the gods. Rob Morgan talked about Homer and HESI had, as they spoke of the Greek gods as being happy within themselves because they were unaffected by men who are subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune in death, Plato, Aristotle.
All referred to Makarios, Jesus’s coming and saying, the happiness you have said is only for the gods Makarios, Makarios to those who mourn. And we come to this passage and I just want to give three, three questions and we have your notes if you want them. But three questions. Number one, who is talking here?
Second question will be. Who is he talking about? Who are these mourners that he is speaking about? And lastly, what does the kingdom mean to those who mourn. So first who is talking K, want to talk back, look back again at how God’s come on the scene. Right? You’ve got Greco, Roman culture, the collision of the Roman empire Greek thought come together and you’ve got great thinkers that are coming.
And so these, these great thinkers, there’s a lot of scholarship. There’s a lot of thought. And just going back from Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, and many other people that are, um, Offering different perspective. Honestly, the society has become wealthy enough that people can go around and think, go and think and educate and philosophize this not just how do we kill the next Buffalo and get some food, right?
There’s not just, how do we go do the next thing and survive? There’s an ability. There’s an affluency now that there are people investing their lives. Into the life of thought. And there’s, there’s these conversations about these gods, right. And we see the now of Marvel’s brought them all back in discussion and these gods are thought about of how would these gods operate?
How would they be one of the major traditions that, that, um, early, even early church fathers would have some been influenced by as the stoic tradition. This is one of the largest philosophical perspectives of the time it’s present in Rome. It’s present in Greece. Phylo of Alexandria. Actually, when he wrestled with the text was what had an impact?
Well, it’s they say in one foot in Moses and one foot in the stoic tradition marrying these together, and this idea of the stoic tradition is that the gods or God himself. Even the Judeo-Christian God, Joe, it had had an aspect of being above, being impacted by people above being impacted by what happens on creation to be without grief is an attribute of God.
He is above grief. He is above pain. He is unaffected by it is the teaching in this stoic tradition. Then we have this Christ come onto the world. Isaiah 53. Three teaches that Christ would you want to flash that up? That’d be great that he was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.
And as one whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him. Not that he was acquainted with grief. He was aware, involved, touched, affected by grief. The Talmud, which would come a few hundred years later had this teaching. It was a man, um, came up to Elijah, the prophet while he’s standing at the entrance of a cave.
And he asked Elijah when, when will the Messiah come? And Elijah replied, go ask the Messiah himself. He said, well, where is he sitting at the Gates of the city? Well, how shall I know him? He’s sitting on among the poor covered with wounds. There are 40 miracles that are done in the new Testament. 28 with them dealt with physical healing or deliverance.
Jesus came and was acquainted. This God. Came and was acquainted among grief. It also says he was a man of sorrows. He wasn’t just aware of others’ grief. He wasn’t just impacted by others’ grief, but he came to carry his own grief in pain. He came among poverty. He came among disease. His family members potentially dying from disease.
He lived as a refugee for 10 of the first 12 years of his life. He lived under Roman rule for the rest of his life. He saw others suffer without providing them healing. This to me would be one of the most difficult things as Christ as your aunt lays, they’re sick, dying of a disease Christ 28 years old.
Doesn’t heal. Y says like before it, his first miracle, it hadn’t come his time yet. He had to experience the grief of not helping those. He loved one other thought is we talk about how Jesus bled for people, but also people bled because of him. We have the story of when, uh, the wise men come to heritage, right?
And they come to heritage and say, Hey, the Messiah is going to be born. And Herod says, I want to eliminate every Jewish child, every Jewish male that’s two years and younger. So I can exterminate this threat to my kingdom. Well, that’s a story that’s deeply embedded in all of his friends and family. Jesus walks around as a 14 year old, and people are still grieving and talking about how Herod had killed their babies.
And Jesus knows. That was because of me. Jesus carried this sorrow in him. He was a man of sorrows. He dealt with the disbelief in his own family and friends. And as we know, so dearly. Dealt with the abandonment of those who are closest to him. Tony Morrison wrote a book called Sula and in this book, a character named Nell was betrayed and abandoned by a couple of people, very close to her.
And she described the feeling of abandonment in this way. Talking about nail the character. It was a fine cry loud and long. But it had no bottom and it had no top just circles of sorrow. Jesus came, who is talking here is one, not only impacted by grief, but one who he himself experienced it. So when he comes up onto the mountain side, Gathering, as we see in Matthew, his disciples, we see in Luke, even other crowds around him and he says, these words, bless it.
Makarios us to those who mourn. He spoke as one among those who mourn that’s who is talking, what is he talking about? Or who is he talking about? What does it mean? To be those who mourn, what does it mean to be a morning and why in the world does he attach Makarios type happiness to morning? Why isn’t he saying Makarios to those who don’t have to mourn Makarios to those who don’t know morning Makarios to those above morning?
Why does this morning Christ say Makarios? In response to morning, first thing, what does it mean to be those who mourn it means to experience death? This word 10th. Oh, to mourn it has an aspect of being tied to a lament. That’s connected to a death many times when this word is used, it is connected directly to a death of a situation.
And when we experience death, right when to experience death is so final, so painful, and this can be a death of a person, death of reputation. Experiencing our own spiritual death, the morning of sin, death of a long desired dream in Les Miz fan teen. Was a character that had made some mistakes in her life and had a daughter and eventually couldn’t care for her daughter.
And she was able to, to finally get employment, but it came out that she had this daughter out of wedlock. And so then she was removed from her employment. She eventually sold her body in order to help supply finances for her daughter. CO’s that eventually that wasn’t enough. And in the story cut her hair.
And pulled out her teeth to be sold so that she could somehow provide for her daughter. And there is this scene where she sings about this death of her dream or desired life. She says this, there she goes through and sings the long course about her, what her desires was for her life, but then writes, then sings this.
There are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms. We cannot weather. I had a dream. My life would be so different from this hell. I’m living so different now, from what it seemed now, life has killed the dream I dreamed morning is to experience death. And it is to deeply feel the result of that death and something we want to say about morning.
I don’t believe that what Jesus is doing is elevating pain. Like, Hey, life is way better when it’s bad. And those of you who have gone through deep and dark and difficult days and circumstances, and I even apologize for using the word days. Because, I mean, years and decades, often times this feeling of death is not noble.
It’s not interesting. It’s devastating. CS Lewis who writes a book called the problem of pain and CS Lewis in this book, uh, addresses by page one Oh four. He says you would like to know how I behave. When I experienced pain, CS Lewis is saying, okay, after all my teaching about pain, do you wonder how I do it?
How do I handle this sense of pain? And he says, you need not guess I will tell you I am a great coward. When I think of pain of anxiety that gnaws like fire and loneliness that spreads out like a desert. And the heartbreaking routine of monotonous misery. If I knew any way to escape, I would crawl through sewers to find it.
But what is the good of telling you about my feelings? You know, the more ready they are, the same as yours. I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That’s what the word means to prove it palatable. Is beyond my design to mourn is not some cute passing sadness. It is to feel the weight of death.
Secondly, It is to accept an unknown timeline to mourn is to accept an unknown timeline. I think of Abraham and Sarah, right? These are well-off people and early Genesis and God comes and he’s like, Abraham, this is going to be amazing. You’re going to be called the friend of God. And, and, and you, as you’ve been dreaming about your ancestors and how you’re going to set up your family and you’ve got your finances in order and your.
Farms in order, you’ve got, you’ve got all this. What I’m going to ask you to do, Abraham is I’m going to ask you to take all that and take it on the road. Okay. And I’m not going to, I’m going to give you a land and I’m going to give you ancestors more than stars of the sky. And I’m going to do all of these things.
And Abraham for decade after decade wanders around. Yes. Experiencing the comfort of God, but experiencing the confusion of why has God not provided my ancestors? Why has God not come through on his promise? And as he dealt with barrenness and Sarah dealt with barrenness for decade after decade, and you think, wow, we see that timeline in a matter of like eight verses or something.
I don’t know, 10 verses, but the reality of that sense of loss. Took an unknown and great amount of time in John six. There’s this guy who was born blind and the disciples come in and they’re so spiritual and they come and they’re talking amongst themselves. What did this guy do? Or what did his parents do?
Or maybe grandparents, if we’re going to go there to make it. So this person deserved to be born blind. And, and they’re talking amongst themselves and they asked you, you just, okay, Jesus, tell us, tell us, where’s the problem. Where’s the thing to blame that we can find out why this person is suffering. And Jesus says, Jesus says it is not because of any sin of him or his parents.
It’s because the glory of God to be revealed that day. And it’s a beautiful story. But I also do imagine what it’s like for that kid at five years old, who had been born blind with no answers to those questions for him 10 years old, when he can’t go out in play, when he can’t, when he knows his financial future is going to be dependent for his parents who are sitting there and shame thinking, what did we do that maybe was our fault that this happened for the decades leading up to that miracle to mourn.
Is to experience pain, almost always for an extended painful amount of time, the normative way. And I wish this weren’t. So the normative way for morning is to happen is to happen is very messy and over a long time. The process for Makarios to move into that morning, usually operates the same way. The normal way for morning is a lengthy amount of time.
And for the miracle of comfort and Makarios to enter morning, it takes a long time normally to. Third to mourn is to meet misunderstood to mourn is to be misunderstood. There’s a beautiful passage in first Thessalonians, five 14 as it’s just a wonderful passage for you. As, as we’re dealing with with other people, it says we urge you brothers admonish, the idol, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak be patient with the mall.
The reality is, is often what we do is we admonish the week. W we try to encourage the week. We try to encourage those sore or admonish them that that are often in the morning. And there’s not a person who has experienced deep mourning in their life that has not known the pain of what it means to be deeply misunderstood for any of us to say, we get grief and loss.
It is kind of trite and unintentionally cruel. All we can say is we’ve understood mourning for this part of our lives, but the moment we think, Oh, I’ve done, I’ve dealt with this. So I’ve dealt with that. We cheapen and misunderstand the depth of pain that someone is experiencing.
Had the opportunity to, uh, become a chaplain for the college would police force. And I walk in there not knowing anything, right? Like, and I go in there and we just hear the process that police have to go through and the firefighters have to go through and what they experience. And they actually show videos to let you know, this is the things that they see.
This is what they experience. And we’re having this in a nice room with snacks and it’s devastating. It’s these men and women’s lives. And you walk out after this training and you’re like, Oh my goodness. I don’t know what it means to be a police officer. I don’t know what it means to be a firefighter, but I know that I need to be a little more quiet in guessing.
And the divorce rates and the suicide rates and the mental health breakdowns. Whoa, I don’t know as much as I thought. Just finished a be the bridge group here, where we gathered people from our congregation of, uh, different backgrounds and different minority groups. And we gathered as a, as a whole group of people.
And just listen to stories and I don’t pretend to come out of listening to that and say, I know exactly what it’s like being an Asian American, or I know exactly what it’s like to be a black male. I can’t come out of that saying I know, but what I can come out of and saying, Oh my people I trust and love.
I need to listen. I need to be careful to not assume I get. What someone else’s experience is if you are dealing with someone who’s morning, talk less, you are standing on Holy ground. Fourth to mourn is to grieve a lack of answers. Whenever any of us has any amount of pain, any amount of difficulty in the amount of disappointment, any amount of death, of a dream death of a hope death of someone else.
The question is, why did this happen? It’s just natural. We all do it. Right? Why did this happen? Something bad happened. Well, why, why did it happen to me? And then if you’re like me, it’s the next question is how in the world do I get out of it? Why did it happen? How do I get out of it? A man that I just deeply love and have come to deeply trust in this place of mourning came to me.
He went through things that I cannot imagine going through and cannot pretend that I could know faithful. Man. He came to me, told me this. He said, after looking at job, he says that God never tells job. Or never tells the sufferer why he is suffering during the suffering. God never told Jobe why he was going through it when he was going through it.
Confusion, not knowing is one of the most difficult parts of morning. W when will I finally get over this death of a loved one? When will I finally get over this, this death of what I hoped life would be like, when will I finally get over this sense of depression that is over me? Why is it caused? And how can I get out of it?
One of the hardest things is the confusion. Never knowing what God is doing until later. Perhaps, perhaps one of the very hardest parts of the mourning process is the unanswered. Why number five to mourn is to engage in a profound act of courage. I think we’re all CS Lewis. I know I am CS Lewis that I am a coward when it comes.
To things that need to be mourned. I am an avoider. I am a try to positive Polly the police, this aspect of my mind, but I also deeply believe that in order to understand this comfort of God that Jesus is talking about is we have to have the courage to mourn. Many do not receive comfort because they refused to look on sorrow.
I, uh, looked at some different artwork this week on morning, looking up, what are paintings or pictures of someone who mourns. And there are, there are two things that, that kind of jump out has jumped out at me as I’ve looked at this. One is the sense of balling up, right? The constriction that comes from emotional or physical pain, you see people mourning this way.
They ball up, they hunker in. And the second thing I saw is the amount of morning is images or paintings of people who are alone. I think this is the easy way. No, there is no easy way to more. And forgive me. This is perhaps the natural way to mourn is to ball up and to feel so alone. Cynthia Bourgeault says this morning is indeed a brutal form of emptiness, but in this emptiness, if we can remain open.
We discover a mysterious something does indeed reach back to us to mourn his touch, to touch directly the substance of divine compassion, being honest with loss and grief being open in our loss and grief is one of the most courageous things I have ever seen human beings do.
Lastly, what is Jesus saying to those who mourn first, he sang there’s room for your pain in this kingdom, and then kingdom that he is establishing as he went up and the band stopped playing and he is giving these principles and he is daring to use this loaded word Makarios. This is what he says, not who can get here, achieve this.
And finally, you can make the cut past the test, beat the others out. You can be among the few and the proud. Now Jesus is saying this kingdom is different. Why I’m not having you come to the kingdom. The kingdom is coming to you. And those who know so morning there’s room for you here. You’re not forgotten here, not only for the gods and Kings and powerful.
This kingdom is built on the back of those who have broken backs. There is not a person who knows deep grief and loss that does not know what it’s like to have someone not have space or perhaps better to run out of space. For your morning, why it takes time to mourn. Darkness comes from morning triggers seem to come from everywhere.
We know this world does not stop. Right. And it’s not fair to ask it to one of the most devastating things about loss. Is that everything else in the world operates like that loss didn’t happen. There’s no space carved out for sadness and grief and Jesus is coming and saying no. In my kingdom there’s room.
There’s time for you to hurt there’s opportunity to slowly heal. There is no judgment for your limp and there is compassion for your continued triggers. Secondly, the kingdom means this is a long one. I couldn’t, I couldn’t shorten it. It means that our King can stare straight into our hell and declare the story is not over.
I realize even saying that I realized the arrogance, it might feel of me sitting there saying, Nope, your story. Story’s not over. When you’re looking and saying, you want to bet, you want to bet. And here I’m not at all trying to speak on any wisdom that I’m coming with, but I’m trying to deal with the reality of the text.
Jesus, who knows mourning does use this word Makarios. He does say, bless it are those who mourn for they will be comforted. He does say that even in pain, comfort, and even Makarios can happen. And I love that he does this, the ability to stare into the darkest moments of life. There was a situation. Um, I was dealing with somebody trying to help somebody out.
And, uh, I went to this, this woman’s house, this, this man was actually staying on her porch and, uh, we didn’t have a home at that time and, and she didn’t want him in the house. So we stayed on the porch. Um, it was. Had lots of layers and complications, um, that the house was in a place that was in a very difficult, uh, state of repair.
And I remember walking up, going up the steps with, with my friend who was homeless at the time, and then talking with the woman and she was, uh, had. Great physical suffering and, and looking in her house and what she was dealing with was overwhelming to me. And I remember the feeling of standing there talking with both of them and trying to think through of, of how can we help your relationship out and what does this look like and what help can we find what comfort is there?
And I remember there was part of that conversation where I literally felt like my body ran to my car. Like, I really felt like I was still standing there because that’s what good people are probably supposed to do. At least I imagined it, but I emotionally was gone. I could not handle the intensity and the layers and the mess of this situation.
It was too much for me. I mentally checked out and could imagine me driving away and could not wait for that moment to come. Because I couldn’t, I ran out, I ran out of my ability to move towards. I ran out of when I stared into the difficulty of that situation. I blinked and I couldn’t take its intensity.
That’s happened to me more often than I want to admit. And I love that Jesus is not this way. Jesus moved towards didn’t run away from those that were too needy for the village to manage too difficult for the others to heal too complicated for others to deal with. He dealt with the racially profiled Samaritan.
He dealt with childless mothers. He dealt with the sick and financially devastated. He dealt with people in the moment of their loss. He was condemned by how he cared for those that were thought of to spiritually dead with the tax collector and the prostitute. He can stare straight in and say, this story is not over third.
And last, our wounds will be that, which slows us to see the beautiful, how in this passage, if you look at it, The morning is the trigger for the Makarios, right? It’s Jesus is saying where’s the blessing go? The blessing goes to the mourners. There is something about the mourners, their mornings. That is, that is, um, the very touch point of where more cardios comes.
It’s not blessed are those who never mourn. It’s not the absence of morning. It’s that morning is the gateway. And I just lastly, want to say this, I want to talk first off. I used the word slow here. I think people who deeply mourn who have deeply mourned, even when they experienced comfort, Makarios walk slower.
I think the, the wound, the scars is still somewhat there, but I think that those scars and those wounds are the very thing that God uses to slow us enough. To see the miraculous. One of the interesting things to me is that Jesus, when he rises from the dead, he still has the scars in his hands and his feet.
And the puncture point in his side, why there was a lot of things that broke down in his body. Apparently all of those came back, but why not? The skin around his, his widen that he’ll like the other parts of his body healed. Says this thing it’s in the book of John, I forgot to put the reference. Eight days later, his disciples were inside.
Thomas was with them. The doors were locked. Jesus came and stood among them and said, peace. Be with you. He said to Thomas, put your finger here, see my hands, put your hand and place it. My side do not disbelieve, but believe Thomas answered him. My Lord and my God. By touching the scars and seeing the scars.
Jesus said, now you can believe. And Thomas answered one of, if not the greatest declaration of Christ’s divinity from his disciples, my Lord and my God, the scars in his hands and feet were not noble. They weren’t, they weren’t exciting. They were from torture. They were given not from someone he ministered with all of his life.
They were from the hands of a disbelieving and mocking stranger. What is so special about the torture places set? The scars told the beautiful story. It was his pain and scars that provided the beautiful comfort to Thomas. It was the scars that led to the beauty of belief and the declaration, my Lord and my God.
Lastly, in the passage, again, this is in the plural, bless that. Are they. A lot of times you have in, in different scriptures, blessed is the one or bless it as the man. Bless it. As the woman it’s talking in singular, but here he’s talking in plural. Bless it. Are they who mourn blessed? It is the village judge that operates in the new and living way.
Blessed is the community that accepts loss pain in sadness as part of its way of life. Bless. It are the people that have big ears to listen, strong shoulders to help carry and slow tongues to give advice. Bless it are the people who do not shoot their sick, overlook, their lonely, or judge others by how much productivity that they can bring.
Blessed are the people that can with their Christ stare into hell and say, the story is not over. A wounded and scarred village that operates with such compassion and love from their King. That village can lead a lonely and weary world to turn to him and say, my Lord and my God, we are dismissed.