Matthew 5:4 | Blessed are THEY that mourn: for THEY shall be comforted. What About those Blessed Mourners?

I do not guess that this devotion will be one which will be well received by the many who may eventually stumble upon it and actually come to read it. It is not one which I would genuinely strive to write to “stimulate and encourage” hope.

Except that, reading and re-reading these passages caused me to finally notice the all too human element contained within the words spoken of by Jesus and many years later, after his death and resurrection, to be narrated by Matthew.

I found myself standing convicted by God of losing sight of the humanity in and unto whom Jesus spoke to on that hillside. It is simple to make things complex and complex to make things simple and that is what I have consistently done in my writings – focus on the theology and not so much on the humanity behind it. What of the humanity Rabbi Jesus was speaking of as being so “BLESSED?” Was there a far deeper understanding Jesus intended lying underneath that word??? I have always deliberately avoided this discussion of “blessedness” and my sin.

So, this is going to be a long and I sincerely apologize for it. I only pray that you will indulge only in what God is about to tell you and probably convict you of, if you can stand up under the unbearable weight of the burden of Him who is now surely going to deliberately interfere in your life by truly coming among you!!

Be BLESSED or Be CURSED. I leave it up to the sinful nature of your heart and your obsessive nature to either continually ignore sin or be blessed by God. I leave the final result solely in the hands of God, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I pray we each have the grace to receive what God is preparing to unleash on us.

Matthew 5:1-12 The Message

You’re Blessed

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort, and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even! —for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is a concentration of the teaching of Jesus during His life and ministry. This devotion presents us with a kind of distillation of our Lord’s teaching. The themes of this devotion (from Matthew’s account) are taken up through the entire account of Luke. Many of the major themes of our Lord’s teaching are found in this one beautifully, eloquently crafted sermon.

“The Beatitudes.” The Beatitudes describe the character of one who is truly righteous and who will experience kingdom life. It is a stark contrast with the character of the scribes and Pharisees of the day. The teaching of our Lord, and His interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures was radically different from Jewish accepted traditions and the well-considered teachings of the Rabbis of ancient Israel. As they studied the Torah against the backdrop of the issues and circumstances of the day, The Rabbi’s spoke and debated amongst themselves. As circumstances among the Israelites changed the Rabbi’s would gather to consider how best to move the Temple traditions and all the people forward.

The general population of people were not involved in those debates and in the discussions. They were all just going about their everyday lives trying to do the best they could for themselves, their families, their communities, neighbors. The people found about any changes through their local tribal leadership, and they were expected to follow along, adhere to any and all Rabbinical changes. All well and good. The people respected and listened to their Rabbi’s teachings.

Except, the total weight of years on top of the burden of one rule after the other eventually would take its toll and there was a great disconnect between God, the Rabbinical Teachers, the Priests, the Torah experts and all the Israelite people. It got to be such a scramble to define and then redefine written and unwritten Torah, there grew to become a great divide. The Priests “knew” the law, but they no longer “knew” the people who are expected to adhere to the teachings.

This divide only grew wider, all the people could do was frustratingly adapt. It became the greatest blessing that they could adapt themselves to the Temple but not unto the genuine precepts of God laid out in the original Torah writings. The deeper meanings of God’s precepts were obscured under all the Rabbinical machinations to either be 100% for God or to be 100% for the prevailing culture.

Blessed” is a term which is frequently spoken of by Rabbi Jesus as it related to the people trying to live their daily lives. Except, the genuine meaning of that term got obscured and lost in the myriad of laws the people were expected to follow. Laws which their own teachers themselves did not always adhere unto.

What does it mean to be blessed? Many will translate this as “happy”. But I can’t buy that. Happiness is an emotion that is based upon circumstances.

The Lord is not just talking about an emotion here, He is talking about our condition before God. “Blessed” means: “one who has received a gift or favor from God”. We are not just talking about “happy.” Blessed is the opposite of cursed. We could translate this: “O the blessedness of the poor in spirit!”

In commenting on verse 4 one writer said, “Jesus is saying, ‘Happy are the sad'”. Does that make any sense? That outright violates the very first law of logic, which is the law of contradiction. If you are happy, you are not sad; and if you are sad, you are not happy. What Jesus is saying is, “O the blessedness of those who mourn!” We’ll get to what that means in a little while.

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” 

The word that Jesus used for “poor” is the Greek word ptochos. The verb form in the Greek text means: “to cower and cringe like a beggar.” A person who is poor in spirit has no sense of self-sufficiency.

This describes the person who understands that he is absolutely incapable of improving his spiritual condition, that he is totally dependent on God’s grace.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Christianity is a crutch for people who can’t make it on their own”?

What do you think of that, is it true? I would say, “Absolutely!”

Let me ask you another question, “Why is the thought that Christianity is a crutch considered to be a bad thing?” People don’t usually look at a crutch and say, “That’s bad. It’s just a crutch.” People don’t in general think that crutches are bad things. Why does a crutch become a bad thing when it’s Christianity?

I think the reason that the thought of Christianity being a crutch is considered a bad thing is because if Christianity is a crutch, then it’s only good for those with dysfunctional hips, broken legs. But we don’t like to see ourselves as “cripples.” And so, it is offensive to our self-sufficiency to label Christianity as a “crutch.”

Notice what Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 (NKJV) When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

In other words, the only people who will ever come to get what Jesus has to give are sick people, people who know that they are spiritually and morally broken.

Why is the thought that Christianity is a crutch considered a bad thing? It is considered bad, because we don’t want to see ourselves as broken cripples. We believe that real joy and fulfillment in life are to be found in the total pursuit of our own self-reliance, self-confidence, self-determination, and self-esteem.

Any Savior who comes along and proposes to replace self-reliance with any semblance of childlike God-reliance, and self-confidence with submissive God-confidence, and self-determination with sovereign grace, and self-esteem with magnificent mercy for the unworthy – that Savior is going to be a threat to the religion of self-admiration. Our Savior takes the disease that we hate most; namely, sin, and instead of “covering it”, makes it the doorway to heaven – Blessed are the spiritually bankrupt, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The next thing that our Lord says in this sermon on the mount is:

Matthew 5:4 (NKJV) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

This seems contrary to human experience – O the blessedness of those who mourn. Our society is pleasure mad and has an entertainment-park mentality. People spend too much of their money, time, and energy in an attempt to be entertained. They want to enjoy life and put sorrow and mourning as far away as possible. But our Lord said, “Blessed are those who mourn”. As we have been made aware of now, “Blessed” means: “one who has received a gift or favor from God”. So, those who mourn are “wholly blessed and approved by God.”

Now, in order to understand who receives favor from God, we must understand what it means to mourn. What kind of mourning is Jesus talking about here?

There are several types of mourning in the Scripture.

1. Mourning Over Unfulfilled Evil Desire:

Someone might mourn, because he can’t satisfy his lust. David’s son, Amnon, wanted to have sex with his sister. He mourned over his unfulfilled lust until he became sick:

2 Samuel 13:1-2 (NKJV) After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her.

Amnon was so consumed by unfulfilled, hyper-sexual lust that he mourned over it. There are those who mourn over their unfulfilled desires, even when those desires are sinful in nature.

King Ahab mourned mightily, because he couldn’t reach out from his throne room and possess a vineyard that belonged to another man named Naboth:

1 Kings 21:4 (NKJV) So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.

He obsessively coveted Naboth’s vineyard so much that he mourned over it. This kind of mourning is certainly not what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn.”

2. Mourning Over The Circumstances Of Life:

This kind of mourning encompasses all the legitimate sorrows which are all common to mankind. It is perfectly proper to mourn over events that bring us sorrow. The death of a loved one brings mourning. I’ll never forget the day my father died, I vividly remember the deep pain and the mourning it caused me.

When David’s son, Absalom, was killed in battle, David mourned greatly:

2 Samuel 18:33 (NKJV) Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom; if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

After the death of Absalom, David carried on so much his soldiers were actually ashamed they had won the battle.

Joab, David’s commander-in-chief, told him,

“…I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well” (2 Samuel 19:6).

News of the sickness of someone we love also brings mourning. Many tragic events bring mourning. The tragic events of this pandemic have caused most Americans to mourn mightily. These are legitimate expressions of the human condition. But while Jesus’ comfort extends to these situations, there is a more specific application to make here concerning the mourning Jesus had in mind.

Some say Matthew 5:4 is saying that after you’ve mourned, you feel better. They point out sorrow has a way of building up and strengthening a person.

William Barclay illustrated that perspective with this poem in his commentary on Matthew (The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], p. 94):

“I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chatted all the way, But left me none the wiser For all she had to say.

I walked a while with Sorrow, And ne’er a word said she, But, oh, the things I learned from her When Sorrow walked with me!”

An old Arab proverb says, “All sunshine makes a desert” (Barclay, p. 93). That’s a nice sentiment, and it is true that sorrow teaches us many things. But here, Matthew 5:4 isn’t talking about feeling better after mourning. Jesus was not just talking about the sorrow of the world, whether legitimate or illegitimate.

One commentator writes, “‘Blessed are those who mourn.’ How very different than the usual salutation given to mourners! Imagine saying ‘You are blessed’ to someone who is mourning a great loss. Jesus said that it is those who mourn, those who experience painful, difficult circumstances and yet don’t cover it up and deny it, but rather mourn over it, who are comforted.”

This is not what precisely what Master Rabbi Jesus is talking about!

As a Lay Pastor, it is often painfully obvious to me that all who mourn will not allow themselves to be comforted!! “Permission Denied!” Have you ever tried to comfort grieving relatives in an unsaved family, who have lost a loved one, who lived his life with no obvious thought of God? It is heartbreaking! How can you comfort them when you believe their family member is in the Lake of fire?

3. Mourning Over Sin:

The mourning and weeping referred to in this beatitude is not just because of financial loss, terminal sickness, the death of loved ones, loneliness, a divorce, a problem with children, or rejections experienced. This “mourning” springs from a sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His will. In some cases, it is their hidden and unspoken grief over the very morality in which the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has now caused such complacency.

To mourn is something that of necessity follows being poor in spirit. As I am confronted with God’s holiness, I see my utter helplessness and hopelessness, and I mourn because I realize that I have sinned against a holy God and have brought the greatest possible degree, measure, of dishonor unto his name.

We must realize that we all have violated God’s law. But only Christians, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, will realistically declare that not only are they spiritually bankrupt, but also, they are grieving over the vast multitude of their personal sins. Only Christians will declare unto God that they are by their nature sworn enemies of God, acknowledging that to sin means to set oneself against a holy God. Opposition, open rebellion to God is the very heart and essence of sin.

It begins with poverty of spirit. The Beatitudes begin, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). A person who is poor in spirit knows he is spiritually bankrupt. He knows that in his flesh there is no good thing (Romans 7:18). When you are convinced intellectually that you are spiritually bankrupt, you will prayerfully recognize and fully acknowledge the 100% critical need to respond emotionally by mourning over your sinfulness.

The Greek word translated “mourn” in Matthew 5:4 is pentheo. It is the strongest of all the Greek words used in the New Testament to express grief. It often refers to mourning for the dead – the passionate lament expressed for a lost loved one. In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) it is used of Jacob’s grief when he was told his son Joseph was dead:

Genesis 37:32-34 (NKJV) Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?” 33 And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days.

A form of the word is used in Mark 16:10 of the disciples “as they mourned and wept” over Jesus’ death. 

Pentheo conveys the idea of deep inner agony – not just external grief.

How many people do you know who MOURN over their sin? One problem we increasingly face in our day is a conspicuous lack of seriousness concerning sin.

In many places, even among Christians, sin is seemingly not taken seriously anymore. Oh, there are those churches where pastors rail against sin, but they have usually identified certain outward behaviors of which they disapprove, while ignoring many of the more deadly attitudes of the heart- like pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, a judgmental spirit. This is not taking sin seriously. This giving sin an unneeded free pass to wreak maximum havoc.

Taking sin seriously means that we truly mourn over our sinful condition. This is what it means to mourn. It is the cry of the one whose heart has been broken, because he has sinned against God. After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, after Nathan pointed out the gravity of his sin he mourned deeply over his sin – his soul was wrenched to its very core:

Psalms 51:3-4 (NKJV) For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

David was devastated by the effects of sin on his relationship to God. He wrote:

Psalms 51:10-12 (NKJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

David had sinned against God, and he could not escape that sin. He mourned over it, not because he had been caught, but because he had committed the sin itself. It was a genuinely massive affront against God, and broke David’s heart.

Psalms 32:3-4 (NKJV) When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

Does your sin cause you to mourn? When is the last time you mourned over your sin? For me it was yesterday; I spoke of someone in an angry hostile manner, and as soon as I calmed down and allowed the Lord to deal with me, I prayed, and I mourned over my behavior. We ought to be 100% mourning over our sin.

The seriousness with which we must take sin is evidenced by the Greek word used to speak of mourning in our text. There are nine different Greek words used in the New Testament to speak of sorrow. The one used here is the strongest. Like grieving over the death of a loved one, so we are to mourn our sin. It is a present participle, indicating continuous action. In other words, we are to continually mourn our sin that Father God may continually apply His forgiveness to our lives. And this will never happen unless we take sin seriously.

How seriously does God take sin? God takes sins so seriously that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die to pay the penalty for sin. In God’s sight, sin is so serious that nothing else short of the death of Jesus Christ could deal with it. It was because of the seriousness of sin that Jesus Christ had to go to the Cross.

When those nails were driven through His hands and feet, it was because of your sin and mine. Because of my sin and yours, He suffered hour after hour upon the Cross, His life slowly, ever so painfully ebbing away. God the Father had His Son suffer this horrible agony, because it was the only way to deal with our sin. Let there be no doubt what God’s opinion of sin is. As we casually joke about sin, we need to be repeatedly reminded that, sin, to God it is never funny.

How seriously do you take your sins? Does it break your heart when you have sinned against God? Do you laugh when you see evil? Do you laugh at ungodly jokes and television shows? Proverbs 2:14 says there are some who “delight in the perverseness of the wicked.” Many in the church today have a defective sense of sin; we take it much to lightly.

Mourning has to do, first of all, with personal sins, and we see that aspect of it demonstrated in the life of David. But a person exhibiting godly sorrow also grieves for others. In the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel not only confesses his own sins and weeps for them, but he also weeps for the sins of others. And after Ezra prayed his great prayer in Ezra 9, we read:

Ezra 10:6 (NKJV) Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity.

A true mourner mourns not only over his own sin but also over the sins of others.

Jeremiah 9:1 (NKJV) Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!

He cried for those who were going to be judged for their sinfulness.

Matthew 23:37 (NKJV) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Jesus is weeping over the city of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 9:4 (NKJV) and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

If this were to be done by the church today, would you or I be marked by God as ones who 100% mourns over the abomination being committed in our society?

The psalmist, reflecting on the sins of others, said:

Psalms 119:136 (NKJV) Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law.

Do you or I weep like that? Is your heart, my heart broken when God’s heart is broken? We should mourn for our own sins, but we should also mourn for the sins of our family, for the sins of church, and the sins of the world. I mourn over the loss of fellowship I have with different people because of sin. When you see a friend or loved one involved in sin, do you mourn? Does it break your heart?

They Shall Be Comforted:

The pronoun translated “they” in Matthew 5:4 is placed emphatically; only those who continually mourn over their sin will be comforted.

The background for what Christ is saying is found in Isaiah 61, a passage Christ applied to Himself:

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV) “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; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn3 To 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 passage describes those who are overwhelmed with their sinfulness when the Messiah comes. Isaiah spoke of the promise of comfort the Messiah will bring. This is tied inseparably with what Christ says in Matthew 5:4 regarding those who mourn. The Jews would recognize this message in the context of the coming Messiah. Those who have experienced anguish and sorrow over their sin will receive the blessing that only the Messiah can bring.

In Isaiah 40:1, we read: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” God’s plan from all eternity was to comfort his people. And the truth is, the Comforter – the Christ, the Anointed One, the Suffering Servant – came. And in Isaiah 53:5 we read, “The punishment that brought us peace,” that is, comfort, “was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed,” meaning we are saved, we are comforted.

“Do you or I view being “poor in spirit” as covenantal or practical? My answer is, “Yes!” I think it is both. In the Beatitudes we are shown the character of the Christian. Christians are blessed, because they see their bankruptcy and turn to Savior Christ. Christians are blessed, because they 100% mourn over their sin.

Christians are blessed, because they are in a covenant relationship with God – this is covenantal. But the more a Christian grows in poverty of spirit, the greater his fellowship with God, and he is blessed practically and temporally.

Do you or I understand the distinction between union and communion? We were united to Christ when we placed our trust in Him for our eternal salvation.

We can never lose our union with Christ. But our communion with Christ, our experiential fellowship, can be obscured and inevitably lost by our disobedience and unbelief. Notice what James says:

James 4:8-10 (NKJV) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

What does he mean by “draw near to God”?

One writer described our relationship with God this way: “Closer to God I can never be, for in the person of Christ I am as close as he.”

This is very true – positionally. It speaks of our union.

How can believers who are in genuine union with Christ be told to “draw near”? This call by James to “draw near” speaks of an experiential relationship to God, our communion, if you will. The GOD call to draw near in this text is a call to communion to believers who are already in union with God. Drawing near speaks of our experiential relationship with God. We, as believers, are joined to God by faith through Jesus Christ. Our communion is based upon our union.

God has given us a picture of union and communion in marriage. When a man and a woman get married, they enter into a relationship, a union. As the years pass, their relationship, their communion, may be good or bad or indifferent.

But whatever their experience, the fact of their union remains. In a similar way, when we confess Christ as our Savior with a whole and genuine heart (Romans 10:9-13) we enter an eternal union with God at salvation, but our communion is based upon a dynamic living, active faith. We can drift in and out of communion with God, just as we can precisely drift in and out of communion with a spouse.

1 John 1:6-9 gives us the condition of fellowship:

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV) “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness [disobedience], we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Willful disobedience willfully breaks our communion with God; when we are in communion with God, we are constantly cleansed by Christ’s blood. This is a beautiful description of the intimacy and fellowship that our union in Christ should bring.

The Bible indicates from the earliest chapters that God desires our communion:

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:8-9 NKJV

God is calling out to that Adam that they may fellowship. We see this same idea in Revelation where God is calling his church to have fellowship with Him:

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

So, “They shall be comforted.” receives its fulfillment, first, in that Divine consolation which immediately follows a conversion, namely the removal of that conscious burden of guilt which lies as an intolerable burden on the conscience. It finds its accomplishment in the Spirit’s application of the Gospel of God’s grace to the one whom He has convicted of his dire need of a Savior.

This “comfort” issues in a sense of a free and full forgiveness through the merits of the atoning blood of Christ – this is 100% covenantal.

Second, there is a continual “comforting” of the mourning saint by Christ who comforts by the assurance that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The blessed mourn over their sin. As the clouds come between the earth and the sun making the sun disappear, so do our sins come between us and the Lord disrupting our communion.

Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV) But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

So, all these beatitudes speak of the attitude of one who is in union with God – one who is in His kingdom. But they also speak of the ongoing attitude of one who is in communion with God.

The tense of the verb is not “have mourned,” but “mourn” – a present and continuous experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn over.

The sins which he now commits are a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be, if he is in fellowship with God.

True mourning is sorrow over sinning against such a loving, good-giving God. The Lord’s chastening hand is not our main concern. The primary concern is we have sinned against our loving God causing a separation between us and the Lord. Because of our sin, God has become our estranged stranger. We have lost communion with God. This offense against such a benevolent God, not just the consequences of sin, causes us to mourn.

Do we understand what it means to love God? Do we mourn every time we have broken His law? Does it cause us to mourn that we are displeasing Him in so many ways? We desire after the inner man to obey His law, but we come so short. This is not with a desire to merit heaven, because Christ purchased it with His blood. We mourn over sin because we have sinned against such love by every violation of His commandments.

Does sin break your heart? Whether it be your sin or the sin of others, does it cause you to mourn? It should! If it doesn’t, why doesn’t it? Let me propose that it is either because you are out of fellowship with God or because you are not a believer. We must mourn at knowing how God’s glory is affected by our sins and how we heap dishonor on the name of our glorious God by our sins.

It Is Well with My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

God, my Father, Jesus my Guide, Holy Spirit my Guardian, illuminate my mind so I can understand how you want me to live. Your word tells me that people of integrity who follow your instructions are joyful. You have said that those who obey your laws and search for you with all their hearts are blessed and happy. I want that joy! Holy Spirit, please guard me against allowing evil to influence what I believe and do. Help me walk only in your paths. I plead, may my actions consistently reflect what you have said is right and good. Alleluia! Amen.

What Jesus Did! ‘Beyond Mourning’ ‘Beyond our Grieving’— Matthew 5:4

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, at the very center of greatest human sufferings, where Christians were subject to great, sudden persecution, where they could be randomly arrested, separated from their families, arrested as whole families and thrown into prison. A prison which all too often would result in their being a part of the “gladiatorial spectacle” Christians versus Gladiators, Christians versus wild animals, Christians versus fiery Crucifixion.

He wrote in the midst of all that: Romans 12:9-13 Amplified, 9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], 13 contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

Paul told Christians in Rome, “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Mankind faces sadness and suffering from every which direction. Disciples face great sadness for many reasons. Discipleship is not about always being happy.

It’s about following the path of Jesus who was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He surrendered his rights in order to bless others. He surrendered his life in order to forgive the very ones crucifying him. He saw through the facades of his culture and felt the indescribably real needs of people whether they were ill, possessed, or simply blind or lame to the truth.

To be a Christian — a disciple of Jesus — means to care about people, their problems, and to “weep with those who weep.” Such mourning means comfort. Our sufferings, hardships, and struggles will melt away in the eternal light of God’s presence and grace. Our heartbreak for those broken in our world will be replaced with rejoicing when many we love to join us at God’s side eternally. Those who mourn, who are deeply sad, they will be immeasurably comforted!

Matthew 5:4Amplified Bible

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

God cares about you and me with an unmatchable intensity.

God loves you and me with an unmatchable intensity.

God cries with you and me with an unmatchable intensity.

God collects yours and mine tears in a bottle against the day we meet Him.

Jesus cries with you and me with an intensity we cannot match.

Jesus cries the tears we cannot cry but long to cry with an unmatchable intensity.

Jesus mourns over you and me with an intensity we cannot ever hope to match.

God the Holy Spirit grieves with you, and alongside of you, intercedes on your behalf with unmatchable intensity.

What won’t the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do to demonstrate their unmatchable, unequivocal capacity to absolutely care, have absolute compassion for you and me?

You mourn and I mourn with an intensity that longs to be unleashed, and unmatchable.

What won’t we do to return that unmatchable, unequivocal compassion toward us?

God, our Father Cares,

Our Savior Jesus Cares,

God the Holy Spirit Cares,

We care too – there is never to be any question about “Christian” measures of caring. Our desired measure is to care and have compassion for others on God’s level. This is not achievable nor even reachable, but it is still the struggle of our struggles to care for all others as God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit the same way, with the same unmatchable intensity as He cares for us all.

O’ for the grace to Love God More!

O’ for the Grace to Love our neighbors as we Love God before we love ourselves.

O’ for the grace to have uncompromising, unyielding, unmatchable compassion on our fellow man as God has uncompromising, unyielding compassion for us.

Matthew 5:4 Amplified Bible

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

The prerequisite to receiving God’s comfort is that we mourn. It’s not wrong to grieve and we need to give ourselves permission to feel the pain of our losses.

Yet we don’t mourn “like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our mourning is different because of our hope in Jesus who has overcome the power of death. And also, because Jesus is our High Priest who has shared our humanity and is able to sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15). At Lazarus’ graveside, Jesus entered into the pain of the moment, and wept. He showed us that tears and grief are part of the process of coming to terms with our losses.

Even when we experience smaller losses, we still need to acknowledge the pain and mourn. The “stiff-upper-lip mentality” isn’t God’s idea. I once heard a worship leader make this comment, “Let the hurts of a lifetime flow into his nail-scarred hands.” Once we have felt the pain, we are then free to let it go. Even then it’s a marathon process of navigating between a level ground and “vehicle swallowing” potholes and pitfalls and is never an instant painkiller.

Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee us a life without tragedy but being a Christian means we have access to God’s resources. He promises us his comfort when we mourn, but if we don’t mourn, we can’t receive God’s comfort.

God encourages us to come to his “throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

We mourn with an unmatched intensity for those not in covenant relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We grieve, we cry for those who God cried for.

Psalm 130 The Message

130 1-2 Help, God—I’ve hit rock bottom!
    Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
    Listen to my cries for mercy.

3-4 If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
    who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
    and that’s why you’re worshiped.

5-6 I pray to God—my life a prayer—
    and wait for what he’ll say and do.
My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,
    waiting and watching till morning,
    waiting and watching till morning.

7-8 O Israel, wait and watch for God—
    with God’s arrival comes love,
    with God’s arrival comes generous redemption.
No doubt about it—he’ll redeem Israel,
    buy back Israel from captivity to sin.

Blessed Are the Mourners

What is the type of mourning that Jesus is looking for as characteristics of people who enter into the kingdom of heaven?

Is God saying that we all just need to be sad all of the time to be citizens of his kingdom? Sadness is not the concept that we see in the scriptures. There is a time and season of mourning that is needed but it is not being sad for sadness’ sake. The scriptures give us a clear picture of the mourning that Jesus desires.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (James 4:8–9 ESV)

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. (Psalm 119:136 ESV)

God wants a mourning over sin.

The first statement of blessing in the Sermon on the Mount was the blessed were those who were poor in spirit. These are people who recognize their sinfulness. These are people who see their sin and know that there is nothing they can do before God to redeem themselves. They are the people like the tax collector who simply say, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Those who are in the kingdom of heaven are those who are stripped of all self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and self-security. Now let us consider for a moment: if we are doomed because of our sins with nothing that we can offer to God to save ourselves or redeem ourselves, then what does God desires but those who mourn over their sinfulness.

When someone comes to me and they have done something wrong, it matters greatly if they are sorrowful for what they have done. If they do not care about their violation, then that will receive a very different response from me as a parent than if the children 1000% care about their violation and is remorseful.

This is the kind of mourning that God desires of his people. Notice again that the Beatitudes follow Isaiah 61, a prophecy about the coming Messiah and what he would do.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1–3 ESV)

Notice that Christ has come to “bind up the brokenhearted” and “to comfort all who mourn.” The grace of God is to melt our hearts in the face of our sins, causing us to be sorrowful and full of shame. True mourning focuses on what we have done to our God, how we have violated his very nature and character.

We mourn because we grasp the profound loss in our lives because we have separated ourselves from God because of our sins. Think about the faithful people of God that we read about in and throughout the scriptures. Think about some of the powerful confessions of sin contained in the Psalms. These people do not excuse their sins. They do not belittle their sins or ignore their sins. They cry with an unmatched remorse over their sins. They do not make excuses but deeply mourn over what they have done. This is what God has always wanted.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 ESV)

All that God has wanted was for people to recognize their sinfulness (poor in spirit) and then mourn over those sins. Listen how God declared this truth through the prophecy of Jeremiah.

Also, on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’ (Jeremiah 2:34–35 ESV)

Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “’Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 3:12–13 ESV)

Notice what Jeremiah says the problem was. In Jeremiah 2 God says he will bring them into judgment, not because they have sinned, but because they refuse to acknowledge that they have sinned. The same plea is made in Jeremiah 3. They just needed to acknowledge their guilt and rebellion and God would be merciful toward them. But they refused to mourn over their sins.

You will notice that the mourning over sins is tied very closely with confession of sins and repentance. Listen to Ezekiel’s prophecy and then Joel’s prophecy.

And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” (Ezekiel 9:4 ESV)

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:12–13 ESV)

God gave the same message in Ezekiel and Joel. In Ezekiel, the people who are mourning over the sins of the city are marked for spiritual protection, but the rest are doomed. In Joel, God tells the people to tear their hearts!

Come to God in mourning, weeping, and fasting and God will receive you.

Jesus is teaching the same principle of the kingdom in Matthew 5:4.

In Dr. Luke’s account, Jesus taught what happens to those who do not mourn over their sins now. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (Luke 6:25 ESV) If you will not be broken by your sins and weep for them now but take pleasure in your sins now, you will be made to mourn and weep in the coming judgment.

Blessed, For They Shall Surely Be Comforted

Rather than ignoring our sins or excusing our sins, God wants mourning for our sins. God does not want fake contrition, but heart wrenching pain over our sins. But notice the blessing that comes to those who truly mourn over their sins. They shall be comforted. If we return to Isaiah’s prophecy we see this imagery.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1–3 ESV)

The brokenhearted are healed. The mourners are comforted. The mourners are granted a beautiful headdress or crown and the oil of gladness. They are given the garment of praise and called oaks of righteousness that are planted by the Lord. Jesus’ purpose is to come with comfort for those who are crushed by their sins. Notice this point was made when baby Jesus was brought into the temple.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25 ESV)

Jesus came to bring comfort and consolation to sinners. There is no comfort to those who deny their sins. There is no consolation to those who act like their sins are no big deal. Comfort is to those who are broken by sins.

Think about Luke 7:36-50 where we see the sinful woman weeping over the feet of Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” To the woman caught in adultery in John 8 Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more.” Do you see that Jesus is the comfort to the sinners?

Christian maturity is a growing and maturing sorrow over our sins. We do not deny our weakness or our sinfulness.

Rather, we accept our guilt, confess our sins, and mourn over our actions. The mourners are comforted because only they will have their sins forgiven.

Understanding the unyielding grace of God will only lead us to a greater sorrow over our sins. It is our sins that caused Jesus to go to the cross and die for us.

We mourn our sinfulness and then stand amazed at the grace of God to comfort us with forgiveness because we love him so much. Forgiveness is given to the brokenhearted. Forgiveness is offered to the contrite. Forgiveness is extended to those who are crushed by their sins. Mercy and Compassion are all available.

What is it we mourn as God mourns over today?

What is it which causes us to cry with an unmatched intensity?

Ponder the words: Beyond Grieved, Beyond Mourning, Beyond Blessed, Beyond Comforted, Echelons Beyond my tears …. Beyond my perceived hopelessness ….

Bring Christ your broken life today and submit to his sovereignty and ways.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, I have just been diagnosed with an incurable disease called ‘sin’. I am worn out, long scared, and depressed from fighting against it. I don’t know where to turn to, but I know you’re with me always. Fight my battles, dear Lord rescue me from this pit and help me to walk in the divine health that Jesus died on the cross for me to have. Uproot fear from my heart and help me to walk in boldness, knowing that the final report comes only from You. In Jesus’ name, I grieve! I mourn! I plead and cry unto You and I want to believe and pray, Amen

Matthew 5:6, Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Understanding the fourth beatitude turns on the readers understanding what Jesus meant by righteousness. In ancient Judaism, righteousness meant “to acquit, vindicate, restore to a right relationship.” The righteous are those who maintain right relationships—with God and with the people around them. On the basis of right relationships, those who commit infractions are acquitted of guilt provided If your hearts were genuinely in the right relationship with God.

Have you received the blessing of being filled with right relationships? It flows from meekness (the third beatitude) because we can only form genuinely right relationships with others when we cease making all our actions revolve around ourselves. Do you hunger and thirst for right relationships—with God, with your co-workers, with your family, and your community? Hunger is a sign of life. We are genuinely hungry for good relationships if we yearn for others for their own sake, not just as candy or snack food for meeting our own needs. If we see we have God’s grace for this, we will hunger, thirst for right relationships, not only with God, but with the people, neighbors, with whom we work or live.

When you’re really hungry or thirsty, you’ll do anything you can to get food or drink. In fact, it becomes all you can think about. When you are desperate for a drink, you don’t want to chat with a friend for two hours about your neighbors’ best recipes. Instead, you want to do whatever you can to quench your thirst.

This is a lot like what today’s Bible verse is challenging us with. It’s telling us that we should be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Doing the right things for God’s Kingdom. It should be something that we’re going after and wanting.

Challenge yourself today to zealously pursue after righteousness. Don’t become so used to your friends and what’s going on around you that you forget that you should be hungering and thirsting to get to know God better, to become .001% more like Him every day. Determine to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 The Message

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

We each understand the concept of hunger quite differently. You might be hungry, even desperately starving for the want of a bowl of rice right now. I do not know what hunger feels like to other people, but I can only tell you what it feels like to me. What usually starts out as a mild feeling of discomfort from the stomach turns into a growing and maturing hunger that affects my entire body.

I know that if I allow my hunger to go on long enough, I get a big headache and experience dizziness. My body is screaming into my mind to tell my feet and my hands to get into the kitchen and do something fast! I am told that other people do not feel this way. That is why they will eat a later dinner at 8pm at night. The hunger pangs in my body would become so great I could never wait that long.

Thirst operates in the same way. When you are thirsty you can hardly think of anything else. Your mind becomes consumed with needing water to drink. There is nothing better than a cold glass of water when you are truly thirst.

After working outside noon day heat, you do not want anything else to drink than water. Nothing else will satisfy the needs of the body more. You do not want to do anything else – just drink. Hunger and thirst will become so great that you cannot do anything else. When our desperate hunger and thirst kick in, life not so subtly stops, and we drink, quench our thirst and eat, fill our hunger.

This has become a metaphor for a having a strong desire. When a sports team wins a game, the coaches and athletes will often talk about being hungry for being and becoming a champion. The idea is that of a driving pursuit and a growing and maturing passion that comes from deep within the soul of that person. Another word which may help us to understand the idea is ambition.

Hunger and Thirst

With this in mind, let us listen to the words of Jesus as he continues to teach the crowds which have now come and gathered to hear him speak on the mountain. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Therefore, hungering and thirsting is not any one person’s mild desire. To say that you are hungry for something does not mean that you do not really care if you have it or not. To say that you are thirsting for something does not mean that you are presently content or satisfied. Hungering and thirsting speaks of having a deep craving, a zealous yearning, and wildly passionate pursuit. The scriptures speak of having this brand of hunger and thirst in a number of places.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1–2 ESV)

Like a deer panting and thirsting for flowing streams of water is the thirst that David and his whole entire being has for the living God. Listen to David again:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV)

We are reading these so we can have a sense of what the scriptures mean to hunger or thirst for the things of God. David does not speak of being mildly interested in God. He earnestly seeks the Lord. His souls’ thirsts for the Lord.

His flesh faints for the Lord. Do you hear the passion? Do you hear the desire dripping from his words? Now let us turn our attention back to Matthew 5:6, notice what Jesus says those who belong to his kingdom hunger and thirst for.

For Righteousness

Notice that Jesus says that our passionate pursuit is not simply for the Lord but for righteousness. Righteousness is used a few different ways in the scriptures.

When we read the writings of the apostle Paul, righteousness refers to the idea of justification. Paul will often write about how we are not righteous, but God makes us righteous through the cross of Jesus.

Justification is the word that we typically use to describe this.

Is Jesus saying the kingdom of heaven belongs to the people who desire to be justified, by God? While we could argue that this is true, in Matthew’s gospel the word righteousness is never used in this way like the Apostle Paul uses it.

To see how Matthew uses the word righteousness in his gospel, we can look a few sentences down the page and understand the meaning. Look further into the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10 ESV)

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 ESV)

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

We will examine the meaning of these teachings in later lessons.

For now, it is enough for us to observe Matthew is not using righteousness in these places to describe God justifying us or declaring us righteous.

Rather, righteousness is here used in Matthew’s gospel in terms of personal righteousness by doing God’s will.

God’s people are those who passionately, zealously desire to do God’s will and equally pursue to keep God’s requirements. They look at God’s laws and ways as spiritual necessities to be desired just as food and drink are physical necessities for physical life. Covenanting to, conforming to God’s will be the highest desire.

The character of God’s people is that deep inside their souls they long so much for a godly life and relationship with God as much as a starving person long for his next meal or as a parched tongue longs for drops of water. God’s people are desperate for the things of God. All which we desire is to be right with our God.

It is an interesting and sad to note how modern Christianity seems to have no concern for right living or holiness. Right living appears to be inconsequential in these days. People think that they are Christians or that they serve the Lord while their desires are for any and everything else but God. Their desire for God is mild curiosity and not a burning passion or raging hunger. We cannot think that a luke warm, mild interest in God is what Jesus is calling for in today’s text. Listen very carefully to what Jesus said unto the Samaritan woman at the well.

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 ESV)

Just slow down over those words, “If you knew the gift of God” and if you knew who is speaking to you, you would have asked him for the drink and received Living water. Those who know the gift of God and comprehend who Jesus is and what he is offering hunger and thirst for righteousness. Right living becomes as passionately, zealously important to them as food and drink. These are the ones who can never get enough of feasting and thirsting God’s word. They see their relationship with God as Isaiah pictured it: the eating of rich food (Isaiah 55:1).


Looking for satisfaction is the pursuit and goal of our culture.

All magazine headlines and television advertisements suggest that what they offer you will truly satisfy. Everyone wants to be satisfied. We try to fill our hunger and thirst with what will only eventually rust and be thrown away.

It is sad how often we desire lesser things. The prophet Jeremiah pictured this problem in the second chapter of his book where the people are described as having broken cisterns that do not hold water.

The reason it is so foolish is because God is offering flowing, clean, clear water. Yet we try to drink old, stale water thinking we will be satisfied in this way.

This is why the scriptures so often tell us to be godly and pursue righteousness and holiness decisively, exactly and exactingly like our lives depended on them. Satisfaction can only come through living such a lifestyle. Those in the kingdom understand that only filling and satisfaction is Christ. Listen to Jesus again:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 ESV)

The more we are satisfied with God, the more we are dissatisfied with “rust worthy” substitutes. What Jesus has done is create in us a hunger for God. The pursuit of His righteousness destroys our own self-righteousness because the pursuit reinforces our poverty of spirit, insufficiency, and need for repentance.

What Jesus says challenges each and every one of us to ask ourselves what we hunger and thirst for. Salvation comes only to those who truly and deeply want every last ounce and scrap of it. Our spiritual poverty and mourning over our sins should compel us to 100% desire salvation, restoration, reconciliation, and righteousness. Those who hunger for God desire to conform to the will of God.

I am going to say this another way I hope will make us a little uncomfortable so that we clearly get Jesus’ message. Jesus is calling for starving believers. We are fanatical about eating and drinking. We never miss meals and very regimented in our eating, drinking throughout the day. We absolutely must eat and drink!

Now we have read all of these passages that tell us that Jesus is to be our food and drink. We want Jesus and we do not want any substitute. We want time with him, and nothing can change us from that effort and passionate pursuit. Jesus is zealously upon our minds like food and drink are when we all hunger and thirst. We are called to be 1000% consumed with Jesus and desire his ways in our lives.

What is your passionate pursuit in life? What satisfies you? What do you hunger and thirst for? Your hungry heart, Your thirsty soul, Your time, your money will reveal those answers to you. Only Jesus can satisfy. Give your life to him today.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1922

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father, my Guide, illuminate my mind so I can understand how you want me to live. Your word tells me that people of integrity who follow your instructions are joyful. You have said that those who obey your laws and search for you with all their hearts are blessed and happy. I want that joy! Holy Spirit, please guard me against allowing evil to influence what I believe and do. Help me walk only in your paths. May my actions consistently reflect what you have said is right and good. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Matthew 5:7 AMP, “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

My Prayer is “Lord have Mercy! Christ, have Mercy! Lord have Mercy upon Me!!!”

Today, I am pondering how God treats us much, much better than we deserve.

Today, I am pondering just how much better we could be if we ourselves treated others, others being those whom God has called to be our neighbors, as God has treated us from the very beginning of all things. God mercifully created all of us. He gave us the responsibility to be care-full, care-filled stewards of each other. Yet, it is obvious even to the untrained, unobservant observer, there is failure! Even in the midst of all of our greatest failures to care for each other, God, in the single greatest act of mercy sent His Son Jesus to us to save, not condemn.

That fundamental, undergirding spiritual truth is the reality of grace. He has seen us in our very worst sins and had mercy on us because of his great love for us (see Romans 6:6-12). Even though we have repeatedly proved unfaithful and undependable, both individually and as a group, God has yet been gracious and profoundly merciful. He has repeatedly offered forgiveness, help, redemption, and salvation when we least deserved it. We have all been failures as stewards. We have had more than our fair share of success stories, but those failures ….!

Rather than dealing with us strictly as law would demand, God has dealt with us as a loving father does with his children. This conditioning reality must show up in us also. How can we truly claim to be his children and not be merciful as God has always been merciful with us? What about our mutual stewardship?

How can we call for retribution against our brothers and sisters, when fairness would demand we pay a great penalty for our sin? In the Kingdom family, mercy rules. When that mercy is so easily brushed aside, forgotten by us, then God has promised to judge our very own standard of mercilessness when he judges us. Matthew 7:1-2. Yet as long as we are merciful to others, God will show us mercy.

The Beatitudes are a description of the characteristics of people who belong to Christ’s kingdom. Matthew 4 we read Jesus was preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then Jesus went through Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and is healing diseases and afflictions among the people. As Jesus goes up the mountain, he is reenacting the great law-giver Moses going up the mountain and receiving the Law from God’s own fingers. Jesus is now declaring the law, that is, the covenant of the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Matthew 5:7 The Message

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

You are blessed when you care.

Someone else is being blessed when you care.

Your family is being blessed when you care.

Your friends are being blessed when you care.

Your next-door neighbors are being blessed when you care.

Your community is being blessed when you care.

Being across the globe as I am, I am blessed when you care.

The Body of Christ is being blessed when you care.

At the moment of being care – full you find yourselves cared for.

At the moment you are being care – full I find myself being cared for.

At the moment of being care – filled you find yourselves being cared for.

At the moment you are being care – filled, I find myself being cared for.

Jesus came to give us life, a life full of abundance.

Jesus came to give us life, a life filled with abundance.

Jesus came to care about our lives full of abundance.

Jesus came to care about our lives being filled to abundance

Jesus came to care for our lives filled with abundance.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to show He cares.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to care about us.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to care for us.

What else can be said here?

What else can God do here which He has not already done in abundance?

How much more will God continue to do for us through His Son Jesus?

What about this continuous revelation of mercy we have done nothing for?

Understanding God’s revelation of Mercy

The word “mercy” is used in the Gospel of Matthew to refer to showing compassion, pity, and favor toward the suffering and needy (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30).

We get a good experience for this word when we read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Remember that there was a man who fell among robbers and was suddenly beaten severely. A priest and a Levite pass by and do not offer assistance. But a Samaritan, someone the Israelites avoided at all costs, comes to his aid, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. Jesus then asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36) The lawyer responded, “The one who showed him mercy” (Luke 10:37). Here we see that mercy is showing compassion, pity, and favor.

Mercy, therefore, is not just a feeling. Mercy is not some detached feeling or a sentiment that does nothing. Mercy is a feeling that causes the individual to act.

Sometimes we describe mercy as not giving to others what they deserve. While there is truth to this declaration, we are going to see that this is not a complete definition for mercy. Mercy is not merely refusing to bring judgment on those deserving of judgment. Mercy is genuine compassion expressed in genuine help and selfless, sacrificial compassion and selfless concern shown in selfless acts.

The people in God’s kingdom are those who are free givers of mercy. Mercy is something that is freely shown, not merely felt. Later in Matthew, Jesus will call mercy one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).

Matthew 23:23 Amplified Bible

23 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you give a tenth (tithe) of your mint and dill and cumin [focusing on minor matters] and have neglected the weightier [more important moral and spiritual] provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the [primary] things you ought to have done without neglecting the others.

Mercy was not a characteristic of 1st century culture, nor ours today. A popular Roman philosopher called mercy, “The disease of the soul.” It was the sign of supreme weakness. The Roman world in Jesus’ day did not show a lot of mercy.

Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and raised the dead. He was the friend of sinners. He forgave prostitutes, tax collectors, and religious rulers. He took children in His arms and blessed them. He showed mercy to everyone and in return they betrayed him, they repeatedly attempted to stone Him, throw him off cliffs and united to kill Him.

The ancient world then was a place of coercive violence and intimidation, but not mercy. The quality and quantity of Mercy was not very “politically correct.”

Just like the other beatitudes in which Jesus promises blessing for living in ways contrary to our nature, He climbs a hill, the people gather around him, and He says in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Matthew 5:43 records the saying was to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. We see in these cultures that mercy, if it was given, was reserved for those who had been merciful only to you. Our world today is not far removed spiritually from the Roman world when Jesus gave these blessed statements.

One too many world cultures say the same thing: “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” Another slogan today: “Don’t get mad, get even.” People are still treated like things, power is the supreme deity, and financial success is the most important thing in life. There is even the saying to, “Show no mercy ever.” Today, just as then, mercy is weakness in the minds of most.

The Standard of Mercy of God our Creator

We see Jesus showing mercy on many occasions. He looked on people and was moved with pity and compassion (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32). Jesus showed compassion on the sinful woman caught in adultery. Jesus always showed compassion and love toward the people. This is what attracts us to Jesus!

He truly cared for people. He had a legitimate concern for their needs and difficulties. In fact, we see the ugliness of the human heart with how the religious leaders treated Jesus. You will notice in the gospels the more Jesus showed mercy and compassion, the more the religious leaders hated Jesus and looked for opportunities to kill him.

The hatred grew so great that the people and leaders betrayed him, had Jesus arrested without cause, nailed to a cross. Yet, even while hanging on the cross, with nails driven through his outstretched hands, we see the mercy of Jesus. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Notice in this we see a distinction between mercy and forgiveness. The mercy of our Lord is the basis for his desire to forgive us. “…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own [standard of] mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:5–6). 

Mercy was the basis upon which forgiveness was extended. God’s forgiveness of our sins flow from his abundant mercy.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV)

Please notice that Ephesians makes the same distinction between mercy and forgiveness. Because God is rich in mercy with great love for us, he saved us by grace and made us alive together with Christ. While Jesus is on the cross, we see his full extent of mercy as he extends the opportunity of forgiveness to them.

We must be merciful because this is the very character of God. Jesus declared, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). The mercy of God should be renewed in our minds and hearts at least every Sunday as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the mercy of God that we have experienced. God’s mercy is the covenanted basis of our own forgiveness.

This covenant teaches us something valuable. Our lack of forgiveness and our unwillingness to forgive others comes from a lack of mercy for others. Mercy drives forgiveness. If I am not driven to be forgiving, then I am not driven to be merciful. If I am not merciful, then I am not living in the kingdom of heaven.

The Challenge of God’s Standard of Mercy

Mercy is a challenge to develop in our character. Showing mercy means making ourselves vulnerable. We will be hurt by what other people do to us. We will extend ourselves to help people without reciprocation or thanks. We will give of ourselves unto those who need us without regard for receiving something in return. Compassion and pity are not often praised in our world, but it is the very heart of God, revealed through Jesus Christ, that we are showing to the world.

Mercy is not earned. Just like grace is no longer grace if it is earned, mercy is no longer mercy if it is deserved. Mercy is compassion that is undeserved. We are not to show mercy to whom we think deserve our mercy. We are to be like the character of God, extending mercy to all. Show mercy when people sin against us. The merciful expend a great measure of themselves to freely assist others.

But sometimes we misunderstand mercy. Mercy does not mean sin is ignored. We know this because God is merciful toward us but that does not mean our sins are ignored. Mercy recognizes the reality of sin. Mercy has the recognition of wrongdoing. Jesus did not show mercy by pretending that people were not sinning. Jesus did not show mercy by not convicting the people of their sins.

Jesus was being merciful by identifying sins and giving sinners the hope for forgiveness through him. Mercy identifies our sin but then shows the way to reconciliation with God. Mercy does good toward the other even in the face of opposition or evil.

Now think about what Jesus taught a couple times in the Gospel of Matthew: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” This declaration ought to be weighty to us and must not be emptied of its impact. God wants people who have a heart for him and for others. God does not want passive, heartless, soulless pew sitters.

We are people who help and heal. I am so troubled to hear how often Christians have an argument or a moment of an unkind word, and rather than showing mercy, there is division. People leave the congregation and go to another.

People get their feelings hurt and dwell in bitterness and leave. Going to church is not the test to know if you have received God’s mercy. Being merciful to others is the test to know if you have in truth experienced and received God’s mercy. Mercy is not desiring for other people to do good for others. Mercy is when we seek and act upon opportunities to be mercy givers, like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

Think about what the prophet Micah declared to the people:

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy [kindness; ESV] and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

They Shall Receive God’s Standard of Mercy

The sinner’s plea can only be the words, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). God only shows mercy to the merciful. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

Listen to the chilling words of James:

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13 ESV)

What terrifying words to hear! Judgment will be without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.

We also have another saying: that person is getting what they deserve. But is that what we want to have happen to us? Do we want to get what we deserve for how we have treated others?

I know I have made many, many mistakes and I do not want to get what I truly deserve. for making them. You know others have been merciful toward you with your flaws and errors. Yet how often we will refuse to help people and refuse to be merciful because we think the person should not have put themselves in this mess in the first place! “They are only getting what they deserve.”

But we want others to be merciful toward us and not give us what we deserve. Further, we want God to be merciful toward us and not give us what we deserve. Do we seriously want to get what we deserve for how we have treated God?

Mercy toward others begins in our lives by having a penetrating awareness of our own desperate need of mercy from others, and especially from God.

It is mercy that shows compassion to the helpless (Luke 10:37) and extends forgiveness even to the one who gives repeated offense (Matthew 18:21-22). But this is what is important: mercy is not prompted by the appeal of certain qualities of the offender. We see this truth when God showed mercy to us through the cross (Romans 5:8-10).

Matthew 18:33 “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” God’s standard of mercy compels us to be gracious, kind, compassionate, merciful toward others. We love God because He first loved us!

Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Oh, how we need this!

Oh, how we need to live this!

Oh, how we need to love this!

Oh, how we need to move on this!

Oh, how we need to go forth with this!

Oh, how we need to experience this!

Oh, how we need to reveal this!

Pray! Let God’s mercy transform your heart to be mercy givers to all people.

Let mercy flow like as an everlasting stream flowing from the heart of God!

In the name of God, the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for Your manifold mercy towards me, in that while I was yet a sinner, and at enmity with You… You did not give me what I deserve, but showed me mercy and love, by redeeming my life and clothing me in the righteousness of Christ. May I imitate the merciful way that Christ lived by bestowing Your mercy and compassion on all those with whom I come in contact. May I live as You would have me live in Jesus’ name – and for His glory, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.

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