Surely, if the Savior has divine power, as the text declares to proclaim liberty to the captive, and if He can break open prison doors, and set free those convicted and condemned, He is just the one who can comfort your soul and mine, though we are mourning in Zion! Let us rejoice at His coming and cry, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Happy are we that we live in an age when Jesus breaks the gates of brass, and cuts the bars of iron in sunder! – Charles Spurgeon
Opening prayer from Spurgeon’s Prayers Personalized, free to download at Monergism
It may strike you as a little confusing as to why I’m suddenly reading a sermon out of Isaiah, when this is supposed to be a series on the Beatitudes. The sad fact is, as far as I can tell, Charles Spurgeon never preached a sermon explicitly on Matthew 5:4, which of course reads, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I did not want to simply skip the passage, however, and certainly the idea that Jesus speaks to in this verse is one that is found throughout Scripture, so it made sense to pick a sermon that spoke to the same subject. I also wanted to cover it for personal reasons, especially because I am now passing roughly one year since what could be termed “my Weathertop.”
But as the good Brother Spurgeon says in his sermon, mourning for the believer is not something that is simply dreaded or to be avoided. On the contrary, a believer mourns with hope in their heart. Though there is pain and heartache now, the believer in Christ thinks of God’s promises in His Word. Ecclesiastes 7:2, for example:
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
We will die. It is the result of the curse of sin on all of us, and whether it’s tomorrow or a hundred years from now, whether because we get hit by a bus or because we can’t physically endure one more moment of a long life. And we look to Paul’s words, as he spoke to Christians who faced persecution:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So we can readily see, in a broad picture, why one might believe that those who mourn are blessed. And even more, as was noted in the sermon, the kind of mourning that a believer does is done in such a way as to drive us to prayer, to communion with God, to once again nail our sins to the cross.
Those whose eyes are opened by God to their poverty of spirit are blessed, because that moment is the moment they come into their grand inheritance of the kingdom. Yet on this earth we are surrounded still by darkness, we are still plagued by sinful desires that seek to upend a life in Christ and seek after foolish things that bring no life, and we mourn all of that. We mourn our own sinfulness and we mourn our dry times, we mourn the ways that we have foolishly sinned and stumbled and rebelled. But in that mourning, there is joyfulness, there is the comfort of the Lord, because that is the state of heart that leads us to bow in humility before the mercy seat, and to worship and rejoice in God’s incredible love and graciousness towards us.