Part two of a series of notes I’ve made while studying the Beatitudes. Part one is here.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Jesus has established that those who acknowledge their spiritual bankruptcy are the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
There have been times in the past when my relationship with individuals has been stretched to a point (as a result of my actions) where there seemed that was nothing I could do to repair it. These occasions have often coincided with the worst times of my life. A broken relationship with someone you desperately wish to be reconciled with is one of the most heartbreaking things in the spectrum of human emotion, and short of someone dying, causes me more grief than anything else combined.
How much more so with a broken relationship with the universe’s creator!
The mourning here is the result of the realisation of spiritual poverty. We want to make things right with God, but all we can offer him is our sinful selves (a hopelessly inadequate offering), and no amount of “holy” living will change the situation (which would have been all the more of a shock to the system for Jesus’ and Matthew’s intended Jewish, law-abiding, audience). It seems hopeless.
But Jesus says there is hope.
The mourners will be comforted.
This is an understatement. Jesus is saying that the period of mourning will be temporary. There will come a time when we no longer have to mourn our sins and we will have a right relationship with God, and that time came when Jesus died for our sins, turning mourning not only into comfort, but into ultimate joy, something that scripture had been foretelling for years (see Isaiah 40, Jeremiah 31, and Psalm 30). We can only have this comfort if we believe in him. What’s more, in the future, we will have ultimate comfort in the presence of God, where we won’t have any sort of mourning (Revelation 21).
So we can say that the Kingdom of Heaven is characterised by those who have been convicted of their sinful nature, whose sorrow over their sin has been turned them towards Jesus. The citizens live under the certain hope that they have a right relationship with God and are comforted to know that one day they’ll see him face to face.
Until then, they’ll have to be patient and content with things on earth.