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Sermon – 12/21/03
Matthew 5:4 - Those Who Mourn

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Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”
 (Matthew 5:4)

Christmas is wonderful.  Some say that Christ was not born on December 25th, but whether the date is precisely correct or not is irrelevant – We should simply be grateful that a day is set aside in many countries to celebrate the arrival of our Lord into this world.  Without His advent, we would have no remedy for sin, and it is probable that without Him, our race would already have been destroyed by a holy God, long ago.  You and I would not have even had a chance for survival, for we never would have been.

God is indeed “holy” and He expects, even demands that we will be like Him.  You can see this in places like Leviticus 11:44, where God reveals “I am (He is) holy” and He insists that “YOU shall be holy,” too.  “Holy” in that verse is from a Hebrew word that speaks of moral purity.  He is GOOD in all His ways and we are not, though He reasonably EXPECTS goodness to be in us; which should be normal for this world.

He has provided a way for us to be restored to His image, however, and the Name of this “Way” is Jesus Christ.  In addition to being holy, “God is” also – “love” (1 John 4:8).  It was in love that God created us; a love so great that it is beyond our ability to understand.  This is a love that lets us be free to choose Him or to go our own way, for our love in return must be by choice, not by compulsion.  We choose our own destiny and we are free to love (or not love) the Lord.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  While we did not like Him, or want Him, or have any real love for Him, He (Jesus Christ) died for you and me.  He became our Remedy, much like an effective medicine will restore the person who receives it.  He heals our unbelief, our sin, replacing it with the HEALTH of faith, love and holiness.  That is why His advent (and thirty years later, His cross) is so wonderful.  He has given all His love to you and me.

Christmas, which offers so much, is difficult for many.  A loved one, often more than one, has passed from our lives.  You may feel alone, abandoned by those you have needed, and you mourn this loss.  There are many who mourn, and indeed, this ache within us is universal to humanity.  Yet Jesus addresses your loss in unexpected ways.  He says, as in our Scripture verse for today, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).  He IS our Comforter.

“Blessed” is a form of the Greek word “Makarizo,” derived from “Mak,” which meant large or lengthy.  By the time of the New Testament, “Makarizo” had come to mean “happy” or “blessed,” for He takes us out of that which is small, dark, and narrow, and delivers us into an ample place, full of His light.  We are given “Makarizo” – Happiness.  We are not forced; but are simply offered Christ, who is our joy.

The Christmas holidays are difficult for many, and that is because we often do not understand the life He gives to us.  We are given Him, and also – one another!  Husbands are given wives, and wives their husbands.  We are awarded children, who are to be protected and loved by their parents.  Such relationships are often misused, but God’s intention is that we will have – love!  Families are formed, but then are gone, as the aging process and other factors, takes a toll.  All seems lost.

Some who are religious (and others who are not) insist that we should not grieve those who are lost to us.  Brenda Wilbee, in a recent “Guideposts” article, spoke of the “condemnation” she received in relation to losses in her life.  She reported:

“When my fifteen-year-old brother snapped his neck and was paralyzed, I was told to stop grieving; this was God’s will.  When my grandmother died, I was told to stop weeping; she was in heaven.  When I broke into tears while telling of my sister’s death several years earlier, I was told to ‘get over it; let the dead bury the dead.’  It isn’t ‘Christian’ to lament.  Lamentation reveals a bankrupt faith,” she was told.

What happened to her was terrible, but she looked to the Lord and His written Word, and then said this: “I spent the year getting reacquainted with David, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Job – men who wept and wailed, who dressed in sackcloth and sat in ashes and denied themselves food whenever they found themselves dismayed by turmoil, torn apart by grief or terrified out of their minds.  Even Jesus wept.  Reading on, I realized that their tears were not a sign of a bankrupt faith, but the prism through which they saw clearly.  Jeremiah saw his mandate, Job his confusion, David his fear, Jesus His sorrow.  And in seeing, they found comfort.”

Jesus came that we might become fully ALIVE.  We are given LIFE, abundant life, in Him.  If you are happy, then live your happiness to the fullest, sharing it with others.  If you are drawn to weep, do so, and then, also take your sorrow to Him, doing the same with your happiness – express everything to Him.  He is the one who has given you life, feelings, intellect, the capacity for love and grief, and the right to become a Son of God (“you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…” Galatians 3:26-29).

You have a right to mourn that which is gone.  Those who have lost and wept, are not “bankrupt” at all – We are merely human.  His encouragement is this: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be COMFORTED” (Matthew 5:4).  We are not so much to be comforted by people, though we may indeed offer some encouragement to one another.  But real comfort is from the Son of God, who gave up everything on your behalf, and from His Holy Spirit, who is given to those who trust in Him.  When God allows loss, He always gives more in return.

Brenda Wilbee’s brother became paralyzed, her grandmother and sister were dead, and she experienced the betrayal of those who were assigned by God to comfort her.  But she received much – When she was able, she went to the Lord and His Word, and was given – Understanding!  Like Jeremiah and the rest, she was COMFORTED by God.  You will love, laugh and weep, all in the comfort, love and holiness of our Lord.

Father, I bring to You, my laughter and my sadness.  Thank You that in mourning I shall be comforted.  Thank You for sending Your Son.  I love You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.


Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FridayStudy.org
www.FirstChurchontheNet.org
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Ron@FridayStudy.org
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PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

 

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