What does it mean to “mourn”?

It’s Monday Grace!

It is important to remember that our perspective will almost always proceed from the world in which we live. Jesus, on the other hand, saw reality from the world in which He lived. He might have walked in this world, but He was never out of the presence of the Father, never parted from Heaven.

So, when we read something like “blessed are those who mourn,” we tend to think of those who have lost friends or family members and are grieving. Adding the promise of comfort fits our perspective quite well. But on the hillside that day, surrounded by the multitude, Jesus took the idea much further.

Perhaps he saw someone who was recently widowed or had lost a child or parent. Perhaps he saw someone dressed in the clothes of recent grief. He spoke lovingly of the healing comfort of the Father toward that person. But the words He used would have been familiar to the people, especially those who knew the Scriptures.

Isaiah 61:1–3 (NKJV)
1“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
3To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

This section of Isaiah is about the Messiah and the promise of the kingdom. Who are those who mourn? The ones who look at the past and see the need of their people for the Savior. The ones who know their own sin and need for the deliverance of the Lord.

These words come immediately after and tie to the idea of the person who is “poor in spirit.” The people had been taught to do good works and keep the rituals so that God would see them and bless them. The ones who did this best were, of course, the teachers, perhaps the Pharisees. They inferred that God would notice, even owe, those who did these good things.

But what about those who looked honestly on their lives and saw that they brought nothing of value to the Lord? What about those who understood that their spiritual poverty meant they had nothing in their hands? When they thought of what they had lost through their own foolish choices, what they had suffered and how they had caused others to suffer, nothing was enough to overcome their debt. These were the ones who mourned their sin and were ready for the Savior.

To mourn, then, meant something far more than to suffer from grief. To mourn meant to see the real loss. The loss of the loved one is great, but the loss of hope and promise and life is truly devastating. When we finally understand that we bring nothing in our hands to the only One who brings hope and comfort, then we are ready to embrace the grace of God.

The theme of the Sermon on the Mount, as I outline in my book, is very simple. Jesus offers Himself as the answer. He says, from beginning to end, “Follow Me!” The answer is found in Jesus. If you think your good works will save you or even bring about the blessing of the Lord, you don’t really understand your need. Only Jesus is enough.

Now, I want to be sure that we all see the rest of the story. Yes, we came to Jesus mourning our sin and poverty, but then we found our comfort and hope in Him. We are no longer poor in spirit, and we no longer are mourning. The kingdom of Heaven is ours, and Jesus is our comfort.

Jesus is the center point. On one side, there should be a sense of poverty and grief rather than pride, because we do not have what we need. On the other, there should be a sense of fullness and joy because of what we have. The message of grace simply asks us to remember which side of that center point we are on.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “What does it mean to “mourn”?

  1. Steve Tompkins

    “Remember which side of that center point we are on.” Amen! Good word! Thx.

  2. Praise God! This makes my heart rejoice.

  3. Donna

    Wow! Just…WOW! This reached the recesses of my broken and mourning heart! Thank you for bringing that scripture into focus for me this morning.

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