September 20, 2015 Speaker: Chris Hall Series: What HE Said: A Guide for Living in the Kingdom of God
Topic: Default Passage: Matthew 5:4–5:4
Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
As Christians we are joyful even if we aren't happy. After being in lots of churches from different traditions I've seen plenty of "joyful" worship services but a lot less I'd describe as "mourning". It seems that lament and mourning ought to be more common in worship as it is part of the Christian life.
There should be room in our lives for Christian tears.
This sermon by Jesus in Matthew 5 is aimed at His followers since those are the people who are sitting in front of Him listening. It's also for us as people who have a right understanding of God and of themselves (Matthew 5:1-3) since that's the first step receiving His Kingdom.
Today is the second step and it involves mourning. But first, as a reminder,
Blessed ≠ Happiness
I know some translations say “Happy are the…” but our contemporary use of “happy” does NOT line up with the intent of the original language.
When you think about your blessings--things you thank God for, we think about our family, health, job, etc--essentially the things that make us happy.
All of them are good things, gifts from above that make us happy. But what happens if they went away? You wouldn’t be as happy but would you still be “blessed”?
We need to separate the two words a little:
To be happy is a feeling. Feelings are subjective and change with circumstances.
To be blessed is a truth. Truth is objective. When God sees certain attributes in your life (in this case, "mourning”) He names you “blessed”.
…whether you feel blessed or not.
As proof that blessing is not happiness, in this case Jesus says those who MOURN are blessed! Mourning is not usually associated with happiness.
THOSE WHO MOURN
Is Jesus talking about sad people? Is that what He's talking about? Well there are a few ways we mourn, let's consider them and see if any of them make sense:
1. Death: He is on our tail. Every second since we’ve been conceieved. He is the grave. We all have to deal with it since it rules this current Kingdom. Maybe Jesus means when we mourn death? Well since it's universally a problem for every human and His message was to His followers in His Kingdom, it probably isn't this kind of mourning that He is talking about.
2. Empathetic Mourning: We all see suffering. It's everywhere. It's the universal rule of life in this fallen world, the Kingdom that most of humanity chooses because of sin. Again, if you Google the top charities around the world you see plenty of secular nonprofits who do great work dealing with the problems of poverty and injustice. Since suffering is universal to all people and since He is talking in His sermon to His people, this empathetic mourning is probaly not what He is talking about either.
I think our answer is way back in Genesis, prior to chapter 3. The world was good as declared by God. Adam and Even walked and talked with God, without shame or worry--even though they were naked! Everything they did, their work, their sex it was all good.
Once Adam shirked his duty of leading and guiding his wife, it left her open to tempation from the serpent. She grabbed the fruit and bit. Then Adam dove in. Sin entered the world.
The first thing that happens is shame. They realize they did wrong. They hide. God comes by, asks where they are (He knew where they were but He is a good father so He offers them a chance to come to Him). "Adam, what did you do?"
Adam immediately puts the blame on Eve ("Well...she did it!"), then to God Himself ("Well....You gave her to me!").
After this they felt naked. The weight of their sin began to weigh heavily on them and all of creation was changed for the worse. They had lost their innocence, their righteousness and even their own self-respect. The mourning Jesus is talking about is over...
3. SIN: Mine, yours and of others, THAT kind of mourning is exclusive to the church. Sin is not something the world mourns over (in fact, this Kingdom celebrates sin).
SHALL BE COMFORTED
So I feel bad for doing wrong and God mysteriously covers me with some comfy, spiritual blanket or something and then I can be happy again?
Remember, Jesus isn't so much concerned about our feelings as He is with our spiritual state. So if we are like Adam and Even and begin to feel the weight of our sin, it's actually a good thing.
Last time we saw the first step of living in God's Kingdom was having a right understanding of God and a right understanding of our own spiritual bankruptcy. Now that we recognize how great our sin is and how much greater our Savior is, then we go about the work of living a life free from the PENALTY of sin but doing so in the reality of living life still battling the POWER of sin.
I don't like to look at blood or needles or guts (I am wretching as I type!). Having my blood drawn is a source of major anxiety for me--not so much the pain but the needle, the blood, gross!
We feel that way about our sin too. WE DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT IT. We justify, we excuse, we rationalize and we minimalize. Just like Adam and Eve.
According to Matthew 5:4, in God’s kingdom we...
1. Look right at it (yeah, it's ugly)
2. Call it was it is (a transgression against a holy God!)
3. Own it (take responsibility)
4. Mourn over it.
We do that and Jesus promises that we will be comforted.
NOT FEELING COMFORTED?
You can sin, ask for forgiveness, try to stop and STILL sin again. It happens. But it's not enough to simply stop doing bad.
Mourning means grieving over what was but also was was supposed to be becaus Jesus offers us a better future now in His Kingdom.
For me, I used to do that. Just look back at what happened. It was when I looked forward at what should have been that things started to change. Not only does Christ desire us to stop sinning, but He wants us to start living FOR Him.
So mourning means not just “forgive me for i have sinned” but also “lead me not into temptation.”
Mourning over sin means saying "I don’t want this to continue. Help me to be different, more like You."
FUNNY, I DON’T FEEL BLESSED
And EVEN STILL many of us are lost in sin as it seems to have power over so much of our life. Do you feel that way too? You’re in good company. Just ask Paul...
Romans 7:21-25 "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
What’s the solution for us who feel "wretched" like Paul? Who know and want better but continue to wander? His question has an answer in verse 25: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Jesus is the answer to who will deliver you!
This is great news since it means that it's not based on your ability to stop sinning. Instead it's based on the faithfulness of the One Who saves you!
The solution doesn’t come from my effort but from outside me—from Jesus.
He was faithful. At the cross (could’ve come down) but He didn't--at great cost. Paid the PENALTY.
I can trust that with His heart He can help me overcome the POWER of sin too!
When we see how He follows through on His promises and then we look forward (with hope) to Him removing the us from even the PRESENCE of sin.
To believe this requires a NEW HEART.
So it’s not “Jesus come into my heart” it’s “Jesus, give me a NEW heart! YOUR heart!"
As we sing, "my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness". I don’t find ANY hope in my ability to try harder. That hasn’t worked. But Jesus is not in the failing business.
Christian, be comforted. In your mourning look to Jesus who came through for us and who will never let us wander from His arms.
As you stare, deep into the the blood, red sin in your life, know that the penalty for it has been paid, that a future where sin will never be seen again awaits you.
All this happens in HIS kingdom. If you live outside His Kingdom now, you can change that today.
Look at your sin. Look right at it, call it what it is (a transgression against a Holy God), take responsiblity for it, mourn over it. YOU WILL RECEIVE FORGIVENESS AND A NEW HEART and you will be comforted. You will be blessed too!