The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beattitudes which are nine spiritual principles that govern kingdom life. The Beattitudes begin with humility, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Humility is essential to all other spiritual virtues. We cannot be saved unless we humble ourselves. We cannot serve others until we humble ourselves. You can’t wash feet standing up: you have to get down on your knees. This is why we have so little foot washing in our churches, no one is willing to humble themselves to wash or to be washed. If you want to put your congregation to the test, have a foot-washing service with your next communion service. You will be shocked at those who respond and those who don’t. Some people cannot stoop.
Before we get into the second Beattitude, let me remind you that Christ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is radical. It was the opposite of the Hellenistic world view. The Romans, Greeks and the Jews put a lot of stock into pride, sterness and not showing mercy. Until Jesus came along, no one preached on humility or putting the needs of others before your own.
The second Beattitude has the same radical tone as the first–“Blessed are those who mourn.” The Greek word for mourn is used only 10 times in the AV. In the AV it is translated mourn 7 times, wail 2 times, and bewail once. The NASB translated it mourn all ten times. This word mourn speaks of anguish and grief that cannot be concealed or hidden. We have all seen it from time to time and some have experienced it firsthand.
Many years ago, I widow woman from the local Methodist Church called me and told me that her friend was having a routine surgery and that no one knew about it. She said, “I have a feeling that you should be there.” Her friend was a member of a church in Hartselle but had not been able to attend for years because she severely crippled by rhumitoid authritis. I knew the family well and had made several visit to their home. I got to know this sweet lady when she became a part of our weekly shut-in minstry. Long story short, I went and sat with the family while she was in surgery. I was laughing and talking, doing my usual routine of entertaining when a nurse came out and took us to a small room. I had been at this particular hospital many times for many surgeries and I had never been in this little room. No more laughing and joking. The atmsophere was a little more somber. After a long wait, the doctor came in and began talking in circles. He said somewhere in his conversation, “I want you to know that we did all we could,” but he did not come out and say that this sweet lady had been promoted. Finally her son interupted him, “What are you trying to say: is my mother dead?” The doctor then confessed plainly, “Yes she is. Her heart just quit on us shortly after we put her to sleep. We tried everything but we could revive her. Her heart was just worn out.” Then I heard wailing from every family member in the room. This family could not conceal their grief. This is just one of many stories I could tell about grief breaking out into the open. So Jesus is talking about a grief that cannot be hidden.
Jesus is saying, “Blessed are those who are visibly sorrowful”, but sorrowful for what? I will venture to say that the first thing Jesus had on His mind was SIN. Clovis Chapell once said, “The greater our sensitivity to the anguish and suffering that sin brings upon us, the greater our sorrow.” The number one problem in the world then and now is sin. Sin is by nature self-destructive. Ben Franklin said, “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” Some people picture judgment as God destroying sinners but in reality, sin destroys sinners. Jesus came not to condemn us but to save you from the condemnation of sin. Sin carries its own judgment. I had a brother that smoked his entire life. He started when he was a boy. He loved to smoke. Even after the doctors told him that cigerette’s were killing him, he continued to smoke. After he was diagonised with COPD, he continued to smoke. He died of lung and throat cancer. He was a good man and I love him. I miss him. Our family will never be the same without him. Sin has awful consequences and eventually all sin leads to death. When you or I sin, something dies. It may be an opportunity, a relationship, a hundred-thousand brain cells but something dies everytime we sin. Sin bothered the spirit of Jesus. The scripture records Jesus getting angry three times and all three times it was because of sin and what it does to people.
No child of God should be perfectly content in this world simply because there is too much sin, suffering, injustice, violence and death in this world. Sin should grieve our spirit the way it did Jesus. We should be mourning the state of our world. Chuck Swindoll tells this story in LIVING ON THE RAGGED EDGE. A college professor became extremely annoyed at the indifference of his class so he stopped in the middle of a lecture and wrote across the black board in big letters A-P-A-T-H-Y. Two jocks were sitting on the front row and one of them said to the other, “Hey dude, what is A-P-A-T-H-Y?” The other said, “Who cares?” That pretty much describes our culture, “Who cares”…
- 42 Million babies aborted each year but who cares?
- 115,000 babies murdered each day but who cares?
- 75,000 Americans lose their lives due to Alcohol but who cares?
- 600,000 Drug related deaths but who cares?
- More people die now from drug abuse than in automobile accidents but who cares?
- Our National debt is almost 16 trillion dollars but who cares?
- 288 billion have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ but who cares?
- There are 7,000 people groups that we don’t as of now have a way of communicating with but who cares?
- 21,000 children die everyday from starvation but who cares?
- Almost 80% of the world lives on $10 or less a day but who cares?
- Almost 50% live on less than $2.50 per day but who cares?
What do we care about? What do you care about? I want to challenge you to make a list of things that you care about. I am sure that family will be on the list, possibly sports and entertainment but just make a list of the top ten most important things in your life, the things that you care about most. Stephen Covey is a brilliant man who authored SEVEN HABITS FOR HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE. He also has a seminar called WHAT MATTERS MOST. Stephen Covey in a Morman, not a baptist. He does not teach in churches; he teaches in the corporate world. He understands the truth that you must identify your core values in order to set your goals and direct your life. The first thing he will do at your plant, business or corporation is work with you in identifying your core values, what matters most to you.
When I preached this sermon to our congregation of 300, not one soul that I could see got out a pen and pad and made a list. How hard is it to think about what things or persons are most important in your life. You can make a list. Take a pen and pad and make one. Remember the words of Robert Pierce, “Let your heart be broken by the things that broke the heart of Christ.”
Now, what is at the top of your list? What are you most concerned about? Is it money issues, family issues, faith issues or perhaps concern for friends. Maybe integrity is on your list. I don’t know what is on your list but I know there is a list and I know that something is at the top.
My point is simple: you are concerned about some things but the big question is–are you concerned about the right things? What about Matthew 6:33, where does the kingdom of God come on your list.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” The word comforted [parakaleō] is the same used in reference to the Holy Spirit. It means the one called along side, the one summons. Jesus said in John 16–“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate [paraklētos] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send [summons] him to you.”
Jesus knew that those who are concerned about the right things [Matt. 6:33] will be the reciepents of comfort when they need it most. If we show concern for others then others will show concern for us. Of course the greatest blessing is the Parakletos, the Holy Spirit who stands beside us and gives us aid and comfort.
The truest of all men was the man of sorrows. [Herman Melville]