AFReG Devotions 2022

January 11, 2022

They that Mourn

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

The very first message Jesus preaches in Matthew 4:17 is an announcement of the arrival of the of the kingdom of God and the need to repent. This is followed by a specific challenge to certain individuals to leave all and follow Him (4:19). Crowds begin to gather as Jesus sits by a mountainside to address His growing band of followers. It is here that the sermon on the mount, addressed to His disciples, is delivered. The outworking of the above declaration has far reaching implications for discipleship in our day.

There’s a tension of contrast for those who choose to follow Christ. Here, Jesus lists eight qualities of kingdom life that are contrary to the spirit of the world; the second of these is the blessing of being found in the house of mourning rather than in that of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:4). Mourning is defined as sorrow of heart and grief of the soul. We are told that of the nine words for sorrow in the Greek, Jesus used the strongest here. It is the deep pain, anxiety of the soul over the loss of something highly prized. The same word is used to describe Jacob’s response when presented with Joseph’s bloody coat of many colours (Genesis 37:34), the disciples mourning the death of Christ (Mark 16:10) or the world’s business leaders as they watch their commercial empires crumble (Revelation 18:11,15). All these examples are not far from us given the impact of the global pandemic the world is reeling under. Many have lost loved ones, suffered deprivation of emotional and material loss as they experienced value attrition in many areas. We live in a world of global mourning. However, this is not the heart of what Jesus was teaching.

Why did Jesus weep in John 11:35 when He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? It was seeing the effect of death as the consequence of sin on mankind that broke His heart. We are reminded of His cry over Jerusalem when He saw the hardness of the nation’s heart in Matthew 23:37. Those that mourn today are those who are devastated by the brokenness of our world and the total depravity of mankind expressed in his rebellion against God. This is demonstrated in three areas.

First, we mourn over our own sin. Paul gives us a picture of this in Romans 7 as he found that “to will” was present but “to do” was impossible to find. Though saved from the penalty and power of sin, we are yet to be saved from the presence of sin! In 1 Corinthians 10:12, he warns any who thinks he stands to take heed lest he falls. Sorrow in this area attracts the forgiveness, produces the fear of God and results in our total dependence on His enabling Spirit (Romans 8:1). Herein is our comfort and confidence.

Secondly, we mourn over the sin of our fellow man. To win the lost to Christ, we must mourn over the sin that keeps them in bondage. Paul is so obsessed with this that he is willing to lose his own salvation if it would guarantee theirs (Romans 9:1-3). Look at how he was impacted by the sin of the man in Corinth (1 Corinthians 5). Right now, I am overwhelmed by infidelity and marital failure around me with its devastating impact on productivity and the breakdown of family life! We have cause to mourn. It is this that compelled Paul to preach the gospel. It is the only panacea to man’s ills.  

Finally, we mourn over the condition of the world. Ours is the third groaning alongside that of nature and the Holy Spirit in Romans 8. All the talk about Global Warming and Climate Change avoids the central issue; the rebellion of nature against the abuse of sin.

The promise of comfort is a present tense participle denoting a continuing action. Sanctification is an ongoing process. As we mourn, we continue to repent, as we repent, we are comforted, and it is that comfort we take to the world that will transform our societies.

As we start the year, let us weep over our cities like Jeremiah did. Jeremiah 8:20-22 The harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?