From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:1-4 NIV
The Greek word used for “to mourn” in Matthew 5:4 is “penthein”. It expresses strong, visible, audible lamenting, sobbing or passionate grief*. We need to understand that grieving and mourning is healthy, normal, and even a necessary process when we suffer the loss of a loved one or friend. Jesus mourned and cried with Mary and Martha after Lazarus died (John 11:1-37). He also wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:41-44) because most people in Jerusalem did not recognize Jesus as God, as their Savior, so His heart was broken with that knowledge.
* Note. See Strong’s number 3996.
Darrell W. Johnson in his book The Beatitudes makes the point that Jesus wasn’t telling people they had to mourn in order to be blessed, but rather that people who mourn are comforted and blessed. The beatitudes describe people who are welcome in God’s kingdom and who – as a result of hearing Jesus’ message to repent, they turn around, embrace Jesus and His teaching – are transformed by the blessedness of these beatitudes.
The word “comfort” in Matthew 5:4 in Greek is “parakaleo” which means “to be strengthened by being with”. It is related to the Greek noun (Paraklete) which is the word Jesus used for the “Holy Spirit”, the comforter”.** Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” Matthew 5:4. One can’t be comforted if one does not grieve; just as we do not grieve if we do not first love.
** Note. See Strong’s numbers 3870 and 3875.
We live in a sinful world with poverty, injustice, oppression, wars, earthquakes, illness, violence and death – every day:
- Creation groans and it all breaks our Lord’s heart. Does it break yours?
- Do you mourn for those who have not experienced God’s kingdom in their lives because they haven’t accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for them?
- Are you mourning the loss of someone? Do you allow others to comfort you?
- Does the injustice in this world grieve your heart?
- Do you have people whom you love deeply who act in ways that hurt themselves and others? Do you grieve as a result?
If so, then you are blessed because you will be comforted by the Holy Spirit now, and in the end times when all will be made right. Also, we can be comforted now when we are conduits of comfort for each other. That is when we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our steps to accept comfort from others or to give comfort to another when they are grieving – being strengthened by our mutual companionship.