Why did Jesus say blessed are those that mourn?
First, mourning doesn’t mean crying. It can, but a person doesn’t have to cry to be in mourning.
A dictionary definition might help us understand more. Mourning is defined as “to feel or show deep sorrow or regret.”
Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted.
Think about discipleship now
The teaching of Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” is found in the Sermon on the Mount. The teaching is listed among several other “blessings.”
Jesus is teaching the blessings to his disciples. The “blessings” are the beginning of a discourse on what it means to be a disciple. Jesus will go on to tell them to be salt and light. He will teach them about matters of the heart (sin starts in the heart). He will teach them how to pray, to love their enemies, and not to worry.
The sermon is about being a disciple of Jesus. The sermon isn’t a collection of nice sayings. It is not a list of ideals. The sermon is about expectations of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.
Think about mourning as discipleship
The blessing of mourning now takes on a new meaning. Why would a disciple mourn?
A few suggestions:
- Mourning over sinfulness.
- Mourning because I have called people names when I thought if I didn’t physically harm them it was okay. (Matthew 5:21-26)
- Mourning over the awareness that things I was doing that I thought were not sinful are sinful. (Matthew 5:27-28)
- Mourning that I felt the need to say more than “yes” or “no”. That is, I was guilty of what Jesus said was wrong. (Matthew 5:33-37)
- Mourning that while I thought I was an all-around good guy, Jesus reveals to me that unless I love my enemies that I haven’t really done anything at all. (Matthew 5:43-47)
The Tax Collector
I think of the story of the tax collector who refused to walk to the front of the temple to pray. Instead, he stood at the back and beat his chest saying, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
The tax collector knew his sinfulness. He felt deep sorrow that he had not lived up to God’s will for his life. He had deep regret for the things he said, the things he done, and the things he thought.
The tax collector is the epitome of mourning. (Contrast his actions with that of the Pharisee who thought so highly of himself.)
Jesus said of the collector, “This man will go to his home justified.” That sure sounds like being comforted.
Mourning in this context is a mark of discipleship. Disciples should always have an attitude of mourning as we realize our sinfulness. We should deeply regret our sin, past and present. Knowing that our lives are not aligned with the will of God should bring deep sorrow. It is this regret and sorrow that will help us be obedient in the future. Mourning helps us to follow Jesus.