From our point of view, one of the strangest statements Jesus ever made was the second of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. He had said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs are the kingdom of God” and that one was a challenge. But the second is, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” As with most of these statements from Jesus he chose the strongest word available in the Greek language to express this mourning or grieving. It carried with it the idea of crying out in grief. It had to do with the agony one feels at the loss of one they love or some huge loss that makes them feel they wish to give up or simply fall apart. When the prophet Isaiah looked down into the future to see the coming of the Messiah into the world he painted for us a picture of what Jesus would deal with. “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:1-3).
From this picture of Jesus as the Messiah, it stands out that he knew well what it was to suffer grief and pain. When he pronounced the blessing on those who mourned it wasn’t meant to say that mourning is some wonderful thing that we should seek. He was looking at people who were mourning, grieving in life. The hurt they felt ran deep in a multitude of ways. They were struggling with poverty, with being under the rule of the Roman authorities who often mistreated them. Their religious leaders had become more and more corrupt and intent on building their own empire rather than focusing on the hurts and problems of the people. All of that, plus the personal hurts that were invading their minds and feelings every day. The truth is, grief and mourning, are common in humanity at all times. The physical comforts and benefits of life are never able to remove the emotional emptiness that invades us. We try hard to fill the void in us with things, ideas, people, and pleasures. But the void is one created in us by the lack of God in our lives and can only be filled by God. It is amazing how we will grasp for one thing after another believing every time that if we just get this that it will heal the hurts deep within. It never takes long to realize that things won’t fill the empty places in us.
So, what is the blessing Jesus is offering to those who are grieving in life? Notice, in each of these beatitudes he not only pronounced that each group was blessed, he declared the blessing at the end of it. In this case, the blessing is “They shall be comforted.” If you look at Jesus ministry on earth, it is consumed with bringing comfort to the mourning ones in the world. He healed all manner of sicknesses. He made those who were blind able to see. He made it possible for those who were deaf to hear again. He cast out demons that had taken over the lives of so many people of his day. He raised the dead friends and relatives of some. Remember the widow who had just one son and the son had died. Jesus stopped the funeral procession and raised the boy from the dead and gave him back to his mother. He went to the home of Jairus and his wife to raise their twelve-year-old daughter when all the people around them were saying not to bother Jesus since the girl was already dead. He went back to Bethany when he knew the religious leaders in Jerusalem only a couple of miles away were looking for a way to put him to death, because Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha had died. He met both Martha and Mary on the road before getting to their home. With Mary, he wept as he shared her grief at the death of her brother. He felt their pain as they both cried out, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” When they went to the place where he had been laid Jesus told them to remove the stone that covered the entrance to the cave where he was and then shouted, “Lazarus come forth.” He came out of the tomb with the grave clothes still on, with Jesus declaring, “loose him and let him go.”
Jesus comforted people who were hurting by offering acceptance of those who were outside the privileged crowd or the religiously “in” group. He was the friend of tax collectors and sinners. Even the twelve were not exactly ones who had their spiritual life altogether. They were struggling servants of the Lord who wrestled with all kinds of difficulties. Peter led the group but was up and down going on one day from being blessed for confessing Jesus as the Christ and then being called Satan for saying to Jesus that he couldn’t go through with being arrested, tried and crucified in Jerusalem. James and John wanted the right and left hand in the kingdom but were always struggling with hot tempers to the degree Jesus named them sons of thunder. Thomas struggled with doubts. Judas was a thief and sold the Lord for the price of a slave. But Jesus chose these men to walk with him, learn from him and to imbibe his spirit. Except for Judas they grew, learned and changed to become the witnesses who would carry the gospel message to the world in one generation.
Jesus still blesses the hurting, mourning and grieving people of the world. He comforts with forgiveness that readily offers a fresh start to any who will turn to him for life, forgiveness and a relationship with him as savior and lord. He comforts us by sending His Holy Spirit to be with us, in us and to help us in all our weaknesses. Jesus promised the disciples he would not leave them as orphans but would send them another comforter or counselor. The Spirit in us will produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and such things.
We are comforted by the Lord in that we become part of God’s family, His children when we give our lives to Christ. God is our loving Father. His plea to all of us is to “Cast our cares upon him because he cares for us.” The greatest story Jesus told was of the Father and two sons. When the younger son determined to leave, the father let him. He even divided the inheritance with the sons. When he lived an ungodly life, the Father didn’t rush in to pull him out. When he began to be in want, the Father allowed him to feel the pain, the loneliness and the hurt of sin. When he came to himself and determined to come home and plead with the Father to take him back as a hired servant because he had sinned against him and wasn’t worthy to be called a son any longer, the Father saw him coming and ran to meet him, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son started to tell his father how he had failed and pleaded for mercy to be a servant, but the Father was so busy welcoming him back it didn’t seem to matter what he said. The Father ordered servants to get his best robe to put on the son, get him shoes for his feet, a ring for his finger and let’s kill the fattened calf and have a huge party because my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found. When the older brother came in and was frustrated because the Father had received the younger one back as his son, the Father went out to plead with him to come in as well. God cares. God comforts the hurting.
His plan is for the church to be that family that loves and comforts those who are hurting just like every member of the Godhead cares, loves and comforts. God’s blessing is to offer loving comfort to everyone who will come to him for life. He doesn’t always remove the hurts of life. Sometimes he gives us more grace to deal with those hurts and struggles. But God always comforts in ways that are beyond everyone else. Often He offers his comfort through those people who belong to him in the world.