This week’s scripture reading, Matthew 5:1-12,
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you,] and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
What is the meaning of the second beatitude as they are often called and where in the Bible does it talk about mourning? Well, this second Bible Study on the blessings from God during trying and difficult circumstances is on the phrase – Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. By way of some background, mourning is noted throughout scripture beginning with Abraham mourning the death of his wife Sarah in Genesis 23:2, And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same [is] Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. The book of Job is no doubt full of endless lamentations and mourning reflective of the many sufferings he experienced from such a multitude of afflictions as noted in Job 14:22, But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.
Interestingly, a notable prophetic verse in scripture related to mourning is in reference to Christ’s crucifixion, found in Zechariah 12:10, And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son,] and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn. The prophet Isaiah pens a similar reference of mourners who are in turn comforted by the Lord in Isaiah 57:18, I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. * (supplications – humble prayer, petition)
In the New Testament, Jesus also gave further references to mourning such as when there was a question over fasting in Matthew 9:15, And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. The phrase bridegroom is in reference to Jesus himself and indicates how the children of God mourned when he was taken away from them, truly personifying, blessed are they that mourn.
Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus also made statements in reference to a period in time called the tribulation in Matthew 24:30, And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. While there are various interpretations of this prophetic verse, there will be no denying that mourning among apostate people will occur upon the return of Jesus. * (apostate – a person who forsakes his religion or beliefs)
Mourning from Love
The act of mourning is clearly one of the most difficult emotions for all of humanity. It is often associated with loss, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual and is accompanied by grief, weeping or crying and painful, mental anguish. It is never pleasant to mourn and to even witness one who is in mourning is likely to trigger sympathetic emotions in one’s self.
As an example, after hearing of the the death of Lazarus, Jesus went to the area where he was placed in a tomb. He met with Mary and Martha over their brother’s death and they both exclaimed the same words to Jesus on two different occasions, first as noted with Martha in John 11:21, Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Then Mary exclaimed with a similar statement of mourning to Jesus in John 11:32, Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
The show of emotions from the two distraught women was indeed moving for Jesus as he dearly loved this family. He continued on with them in John 11:33-36, When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! This is one of the most moving moments in scripture and indeed illustrative of God’s love, compassion and understanding of the human spirit with its many challenges in a fallen world.
When is mourning blessed? There is hope however in this blessed phrase for “the people that mourn” as it only represents the first part of it; Jesus concludes with “…for they shall be comforted”. A notable verse worth mentioning here is found in 1 Peter 5:7, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. If there ever was a gentle reminder for those who mourn, God is waiting for you to cast all of your cares and concerns upon him because he does indeed care for you for he is the author of blessed are they that mourn.
Another way God comforts people in mourning is through the Holy Spirit who was often called the comforter by Jesus as shown in John 16:7, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. It is often said that God is love and Paul wrote of this in Romans 5:5b, …because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
* (Holy Ghost – Holy Spirit)
No greater love was shown to mankind than God’s love toward us as expressed in Romans 5:8, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of mankind is why Paul describes God in 2 Corinthians 13:11b as, …the God of love. When people experience new birth in Christ, a transformation of spirit takes place, whereby new fruit is born from the indwelling Holy Spirit, with love being the first one mentioned as shared in Galatians 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Love is truly the great comforter that all people of faith should aspire to as Paul mentioned in Ephesians 3:17, That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love. Love helps to bring comfort to people in mourning.
Love in Action
To close off this Bible Study, the next study will focus on the third blessed phrase, Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Until then, for those who have mourned, for those who are mourning at this moment, and for those who will mourn in the future, take heart and know that God loves you as shown in John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
While “the world” is a term that encompasses all people, another way of expressing this verse is to simply insert your own name in place of the world. Also, seek out ways to show and express love, back to God and to others. For this in turn brings comfort to a hurting soul in mourning during a time of blessed are they that mourn.
Lastly, for those people who know friends, or family members that may be in mourning, seek them out as Job’s friends did during his time of mourning in Job 2:11, Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. All too often, mourning creates moments of uncertainty, where people think the best thing to do is to give people space to mourn, but reaching out to them in love, concern and comfort is really what all of us need during those times.
Bible Study Questions
- In this study called Blessed are they that mourn, it indeed begs the question, do you think mourning was a prevailing issue during biblical times?
- Can you name two notable people from the Bible recorded above as being in great mourning during their lives?
- In Zechariah 12:10 was this prophecy during Christ’s crucifixion fulfilled and how does this support the accuracy of scripture?
- When Jesus spoke with Martha and Mary regarding the death of Lazarus it is noted that he wept but why do you think this happened even though he ended up raising Lazarus from the dead?
- In 1 Peter 5:7 above it notes that God cares for us but what does it ask us to do before that? Why is this so important?
- Can you name at least three fruits of the spirit that should come from believers in Christ as noted above?
- Will you make a commitment to reach out to someone now or in the future who may be in mourning to offer comfort to them as God has promised to everyone who comes to him?
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