(SERMON BY GRANT VISSERS)
The Sermon on the Mount is probably the most well known teaching of Jesus, yet it’s probably the least followed.
Why is that?
Reason #1: The Sermon on the Mount is just hard to follow.
Jesus never said that following Him would be easy. In the New Testament, there is love and grace and fewer laws to follow but it’s actually a harder place to sit. Jesus says, “Take up your cross daily and follow me” – that’s a heavy burden to bear. Jesus says, “Don’t murder” but He also says that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to the same judgment. THAT’S EVERYBODY. We’ve all be angry at a brother of sister. This standard is harder to follow than, “Don’t murder.”
The Beatitudes aren’t something we can do on our own. Jesus never intended this.
Reason #2: We just don’t want to follow the Sermon on the Mount.
We don’t want to live according to the Sermon on the Mount – the way Jesus lays out life. The world tells us that if we follow these commands, we will be losing at life. If you’re poor, you’re losing. If you mourn, you’re losing. If you’re meek, you’re losing. You won’t get far in life by the world’s standards if you follow the Beatitudes. They don’t get you a bigger house or a newer car or a better job. They make you lose at life. But Jesus flips it all and says that you’re not losing. You’re actually blessed.
Blessed: a word of promise. Jesus says that you will be blessed when you have nothing. No part of you will ever be good enough to earn what God gives you freely by His grace. The Beatitudes are a word of blessing that God wants to bestow on you. They represent an entirely different way of being and living.
John Stott says, “The whole Sermon on the Mount can be summed up in two words: Christian counterculture.”
The 2nd Beatitude says: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Matthew 5.4
How can you be blessed as you mourn/suffer? That’s a hard place to live.
I had a cold this week. Congested. Couldn’t sleep. All I wanted was to be comforted.
I realized that I suffer poorly.
Mourning and suffering bring us to the end of ourselves. In our own strength, we don’t suffer well. Yet, Jesus says, “When you suffer, you are blessed.” In those moments of suffering, Jesus becomes everything to us and we finally admit that we can’t do it on our own.
Eugene Peterson writes in The Message, “You are blessed when you feel like you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One who is most dear to you.”
Another level of mourning is when we mourn over our own sin. We mourn over the pieces in us that we know are broken. We’re not good at mourning the spiritual losses in our own lives and in this world that we live in. When Timothy Keller interviews potential pastoral candidates, he asks, “When was the last time you cried over your own sin?” If the person can’t answer that question, the interview is over.
I think this is why this beatitude comes after “Blessed are the poor in spirit” because Jesus is talking about mourning over the poverty of our own spirits – mourning over our complete inability to lift ourselves out of our own sin. When we mourn in this way, Jesus says, “for you will be comforted.”
What’s the only thing you want when you are mourning? To be comforted. When you can feel cared for and loved and safe.
Jesus offers us a moment of embrace when we mourn the brokenness of our lives and the brokenness of this world.
Mourners have the ability to change the world. They see the brokenness that exists and they accept the comfort Jesus offers. Then they do something about it. The world isn’t going to comfort us – in fact, the world sees us as weak when we mourn. But Jesus offers comfort – true, legitimate, lasting comfort.