There are some weeks, when you are preparing for your lessons and messages in ministry, that the Holy Spirit springs open the floodgates in your heart and mind. You sense the Spirit. You can do nothing but think about what the Holy Spirit is teaching you and showing you, and all you want to do is gather your people right now and go through all of it with them! As I have prepared for this week’s Wednesday night youth message, that has been my experience. I cannot wait to teach it on Wednesday! I also have felt so convicted and challenged by it myself that I want to share it here. What you will find for the rest of this post is my transcript (which is probably going to be condensed for Wednesday night because I don’t know if I can fit all of this in a youth lesson). Before you read it pray that the Lord will give you ears to hear. He has shaken my outlook on life and I believe He will shake yours too.
Last week we talked about being poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit means having an honest perspective about yourself, realizing there is no way you can please God or live the kind of life He requires in your own strength. It is at that point that you are ready to submit to the authority and control of God in your life. Poor in spirit is the attitude we have to start the Sermon on the Mount with. I hope you see in this series that Christians ought to look and live very differently than the world, and that we can only live that way by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
The world, and every other religion, says that life and eternity can be gained by doing certain things, doing enough good, and abstaining from enough evil. Christianity is the only religion that teaches, from the beginning, that you can never be good enough to please God. Instead, God in flesh lived the life you could not live and died the death you should have died, so He could give you the life you never deserved. The world is man-centered. Even other religions are man-centered. They claim that man must rise up to God, that it is up to man to work his way to God. Christianity is totally God-centered. Everything, including salvation and life, must be from Him, through Him, and to Him. Christianity says, “Man cannot make it to God! God must bring man to Himself.” This is the essence of being poor in spirit. This is where it has to start. And when that reality hits you it will automatically lead to an emotional response. That leads us to the next beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).”
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Mourning is the natural emotional reaction to poverty of spirit. According to Jesus only those who experience this mourning will have comfort. The world says that the way to comfort is to surround yourself with as much happiness as possible. D.A. Carson says about this, “The sum of all of life becomes having a good time and the goal is always the next high.” We see it all around us.
- Those who run to drugs or alcohol because it provides a temporary sense of relief from their distress and a brief high.
- Those who spend all their free time binge watching shows, playing video games, and burying their heads in their phones. Because it’s easier and more enjoyable than opening their eyes to what’s really going on around them. And because the study of God’s Word and prayer takes discipline.
- Those who would never be caught missing a ball game or a practice, but would only be seen among God’s people when they don’t have something better to do. Because sports are fun and provide a temporary high.
- Those who go too far and do too much in their relationships because it provides a temporary happiness.
Notice all of these things are temporary. You are only happy when you are doing them. As soon as it’s over the feeling fades and does not return until you do it again. It is even to the point that, for many people, that thing is all they can think about. This is not true happiness or comfort. This is slavery. You are enslaved to that experience and you cannot be happy without it. The happiness and comfort that the world offers is a set up. It only lasts for a little while and then it is gone.
Jesus says the way to true comfort is through mourning. So what does this mean?
We Mourn For Ourselves
The Christian knows the experience of feeling utterly hopeless about himself. The knowledge that we cannot do right in our own power – that all our self-powered efforts just lead to ruin – brings us to a sense of mourning. There is this voice within us that cries out like Paul in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Even as Christians we feel the burden of our sinful nature and we mourn that reality. We can say, like the author John Bunyan, “Oh! the remembrance of my great sins, of my great temptations, and of my great fear of perishing for ever! They bring afresh into my mind, the remembrance of my great help, my great supports from heaven, and the great grace that God extended to such a wretch as I.”
We mourn from the understanding of what our sin means to God. We do not view sin in a light hearted way. Because our sin grieves the heart of God it grieves our hearts too.
We Mourn For The World
Eternity is real, and every living human being is rushing toward it.
– D.A. Carson
All people will know Christ in that final day as either Savior or Judge. God’s Word is true and everything will happen just as it says: life or death, forgiveness or judgment, heaven or hell. These things will always be true. So the one who has their eyes open to the truth cannot help but mourn. Because we look out at a world full of people, and we see that the vast majority of them are just one missed heartbeat away from hell. They all feel that something is very wrong, but they are trying to fix it with all of the world’s temporary comforts. But no matter how hard they try, unless they are awakened to their need for Jesus, all of those comforts will disappoint and they will find themselves eternally separated from the source of all comfort. So we look out at them as Jesus looked over Jerusalem, exclaiming through tears, “If you had only known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace (Luke 19:42)!”
For They Shall Be Comforted
Jesus flips the world on its head. The pattern of this world is comfort now and then mourning. The pattern of the Christian is mourning now and then comfort. In Luke 6:21 Jesus says those who weep now will laugh. Then in verse 25 He says those who laugh now will weep. Basically, the truly happy people are those who find their happiness in Christ and the life that is coming, not in this world which is passing away (Rev. 21:1). But for this true happiness there must first be mourning. Before we can have happiness in Christ we must first have the kind of sorrow over our sins that leads to repentance. Before we can have happiness in the life that is to come we must first have the kind of mourning toward this present world that leads us to forsake it.
Happiness In Christ
Once we have felt sorrow over our desperate and sinful state, we can then feel the overwhelming comfort and joy of knowing that Jesus has taken our place under the weight of judgment. He was called a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3) so we could partake of His life.
Happiness In The Life That Is To Come
As we mourn the state of this broken, dying, fallen world, and the experience of our lives within it, we can identify with the saints in Hebrews 11:13-16 who:
“confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
In order to find true comfort you have to come to the place where you find yourself looking around at this world and saying, “This world has nothing to offer me. So, forsaking this world and its temporary comforts, I will set my heart upon the next.” There is coming a new heaven and earth where God will wipe away the tears of those who mourned (Rev. 21:4)! For the Christian there will be a little pain now, then eternal bliss. There will be a little sorrow now, then eternal joy.
It is the one who loses his worldly life and takes up his cross who will enjoy the eternal life Jesus gives (Luke 9:23-25). In Hebrews 12:2 we are told we ought to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The worst thing that has happened to a person on this earth in all of history led to the greatest joy to visit humanity for all eternity. Let this be our shining example that:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”