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  • James Stegall

Blessed are the Poor and Spirit; Blessed are Those Who Mourn

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:3-4)

Over the last two weeks, we have covered the first two beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-4: Blessed are the poor in spirit" and "Blessed are those who mourn."

The blessedness of being poor in spirit comes from realizing that we are completely dependent upon God. Our spiritual poverty causes us to rely upon God for all that we are and have. To the modern reader who lives a comfortable life, that may sound difficult and/or undesirable. Realizing that we are not self-sufficient or good enough on our own to earn salvation can be a hard pill to swallow, yet it is exactly this that Jesus calls blessed. When it sinks into our heart that we bring nothing to the table while Jesus graciously gives us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3), gratitude wells up within us and causes us to worship him from a place of deep gratitude. In Revelation 3, Jesus reveals that the church in Laodicea saw themselves as rich, prosperous, and in need of nothing, not realizing that they were poor and wretched. The way of blessedness is seeing an embracing our spiritual need, not acting as the Laodiceans who saw themselves a rich in spirit outside of the Lord.

While God is certainly with those who are hurting, suffering, and mourning, I believe that the mourning spoken of in this beatitude is more spiritual in nature: mourning the sin in our lives, the life of God’s church, and in the world generally. John Stott compares this type of mourning to grief and contrition. John Wesley in his first discourse on the Sermon on the Mount says that this mourning is grieving for the dishonor continually done to the Majesty of heaven and earth. The apostle Paul himself speaks of mourning over the sin of the Corinthian church. (2 Corinthians 12:21) Jesus comforts us in this mourning, however. The most immediate way we experience this comfort is through the forgiveness and grace we receive today in Christ. He is present with us to save us and others from sin, which so easily entangles. In the long-term, we are comforted by the certainty of the resurrection in which we will all be changed, our mortality putting on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:54) Jesus will return and rid the earth of all sin, suffering, and death, giving ultimate relief to those who have mourned for such things.

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