Matthew 5.4



1.   Turn in your Bible to Matthew 5.4, where we will consider the second of my Lord’s beatitudes.  When you find that verse, stand for the reading of God’s Word:  “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

2.   Three observations about the Lord’s assertion in this beatitude before this morning’s sermon: 


Just in case you were not here two weeks ago when I delivered a sermon using the first beatitude as my text, allow me to refresh your memory about beatitudes.

1B.    The word beatitude is derived from a Latin word, beatus, which means happy or blessed.[1]  So, it is easy to see why Matthew 5.3-11 are called the beatitudes.  Each verse begins with the word “blessed.”  But what does the word “blessed” mean?  A superficial consideration of the word would lead you to conclude that the word means “happy, fortunate.”  But a more thorough examination shows that the word is deeper than mere emotions.  It refers to someone who is the “privileged recipient of divine favor.”[2]  So, a beatitude is a pronouncement.  It is the announcement that someone enjoys the blessing of God.

2B.      Always mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ (and the rest of the New Testament for that matter) built upon the foundation of truth found in the Hebrew Scriptures, there are a couple of places in the Old Testament where blessings are pronounced in a fashion similar to the Savior’s here in the beatitudes:

1C.    Listen to what Melchizedek, the priest-king of the city of Salem, and a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, said to the patriarch Abraham in Genesis 14.19:  “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.”

2C.    Now listen to the remark Boaz makes to Ruth, the woman who would become the grandmother of king David, in Ruth 3.10:  “Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter.”

3C.    Of course, most of the passages in which the word “blessed” is found in the Old Testament are statements of praise and adoration to God or of His holy name:

Psalm 41.13:         “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting.  Amen, and Amen.”

Psalm 66.20:         “Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”

Psalm 68.19:         “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.  Selah.” 

3B.    So, the word “blessed” is a word that, generally speaking, is used two ways in the Old Testament.  When the word is used with respect to God, it is a pronouncement of unbridled praise and adoration upon God or His glorious name.  When used in connection with a person, it is a pronouncement of the status, of the favor, of the beneficial relationship someone has with God.

4B.    Is the notion of happiness or delight always associated with blessedness?  Yes, it is.  But the word itself does not actually mean happy.  Rather, the word denotes that from which happiness and delight is derived. 


1B.    If you look back to Matthew 5.3, where the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” there seems to be some progression from being someone who recognizes his spiritual poverty to being someone whose mourning is related to that spiritual poverty.

2B.    But what does it mean to mourn?  William Barclay maintained that this is the strongest word for mourning in the Greek language.[3]  Rienecker writes about this word, “to lament, to mourn for the dead.  To grieve with a grief which so takes possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid.”[4]  But that is what the word means generally.  What does our Lord mean by His use of this word in this context?

3B.    Listen to what Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say about mourning in their commentary on this verse:  “Evidently it is that entire feeling which the sense of our spiritual poverty begets; and so the second beatitude is but the complement of the first.  The one is the intellectual, the other the emotional aspect of the same thing.  It is poverty of spirit that says, “I am undone”; and it is the mourning which this causes that makes it break forth in the form of a lamentation--“Woe is me! for I am undone.”[5]

4B.      There is a connection to Isaiah 61.1-3 that I would like you to look at, so turn to that passage:

1                The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2                To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3                To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. 

5B.    This passage has to do with those who were saddened by the plight of the nation of Israel, by the backslidden condition of her people, and by their apostasy from the one true and living God to the wholesale worship of idols.  But this passage can be properly applied to one’s sense of despondency and discouragement for his own sins, his own shortfall from the glory of God, his own failure to rise up to worship God in spirit and in truth.

6B.    You  might have recognized this as the passage the Lord Jesus Christ read from in the synagogue in Luke chapter 4 and applied to Himself.  And, of course, this is a prophecy about the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Spirit of the Lord GOD was upon Him.  But notice what is said about Him in Isaiah 61.2.  He will “comfort all that mourn.”  Then, in verse 3, it reads, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”  What a wonderful exchange of the trappings of grief for the fruits of joy.

7B.    So, where does the obviously corporate mourning of Isaiah 61, where the mourning is for the nation, come together with what is pretty obviously meant in Matthew 5.4, where the mourning is more individual?  They are different aspects of one in the same thing.  The mourning comes from someone who is on God’s side, who longs in his heart to see God’s name exalted, who wants God to see glorified, and who is saddened and grieved not only because the people do not worship and serve God as they ought, but because you know that you are very much a part of that big problem because of your own sins.

8B.    In a real sense, then, mourning is the result of a conviction of sins.  You are convicted by the wrongness and the tragedy of not only your own sins, but also the sins of others.  But it is not a finger pointing concern for the sins of others.  It is the recognition that what they are guilty of you are guilty of, the problems they cause are problems you have a part in, and the God they have turned away from is the same God you have turned away from.  So you see, those who are so interested in their family and friends getting converted before they get converted are really people who see other’s sins more than they see their own.  They are people who do not mourn in the way the Lord is speaking of here.  When someone truly mourns he sees other’s sins, but those that loom largest in his own eyes are his own sins. 


“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

1B.    If you consider Matthew 5.3 alongside Matthew 5.4, you may notice that “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is a simple statement of fact, while “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” is a promise.  Matthew 5.3 says something about what is, while Matthew 5.4 says something about what will be.  But both apply to that person who is “blessed.”

2B.      What does it mean, then, to be comforted?  Several things to call your attention to about this word “shall be comforted”:

1C.   First, of course, is that it is a future tense verb.  So, with respect to those who are blessed, those who enjoy the special favor of God (which is to say those who are saved), good things lie in their future.  The same thing cannot be said for those who are not converted, since so long as they remain lost they have only the wrath of God to look forward to.

2C.    As well to being future, this verb is also passive.  It is what Greek grammarians call the divine passive, meaning the one who does the comforting is not named, with the understanding that it is something only God can do.[6]  So, on some future occasion, or occasions, God will comfort those who are blessed, those who are saved.  And of course, this fits perfectly with Paul’s comment in Second Corinthians 1.3 that “God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies” is “the God of all comfort.”

3C.   But what does it mean to be comforted?  What does the actual word mean?  Parakalew is the compound word we have here, formed from one word that means alongside and another word that means to call.  Depending upon the context in which it is used, the word can refer to being asked to come and be present someplace, to come alongside someone so you can make an appeal to him, or to come alongside someone so you can draw strength, support and encouragement from him.[7]

4C.    But what does God actually do?  Does He call you alongside Him, or does He come alongside you?  He does both, does He not?  David was able to write, in Psalm 23.4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”  But three verses later he wrote, “I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”  Verse 4 declares that God came alongside David in a time of great danger and fear, but verse 6 anticipates David being called alongside the LORD to dwell with Him forever. 


1.   This beatitude is very simple.  There is blessedness, there is mourning, and there is the anticipation of future comfort.  But with the simplicity of this beatitude there are profound truths.

2.   On one hand, there is that person who enjoys the special and privileged favor of God.  How many sermons could be preached on that subject alone?  Oh, the delight of one who is an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.  That is the great privilege of the blessed referred to here.

3.   But closely connected to this blessedness, and impossible to separate far from this blessedness, is mourning.  This hints at the impossibility of real conversion apart from genuine conviction of sin.  And this parallels Paul’s remarks in Second Corinthians 7.10:  “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 

4.   Mourning leads to conversion that no genuine Christian is ever sorry about.  But if the mourning is not real, not genuine, not the result of God-given conviction, the kind only worldlings know, it will not lead to everlasting life but to everlasting death.

5.   There is a difference between feeling sorry for yourself and mourning the sinfulness and wrongness of your sins.  Sometimes the two take on the same general form and appearance, but the one leads to real conversion while the other leads to a false profession.  One seeks forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, the One Whose blood washes away sins.  The other only seeks relief from feelings of guilt for a while and seeks no union with the One Who is the resurrection and the life.

6.   Do you ever wonder why God calls preachers to preach against sin and to warn people of God’s wrath and judgment?  It is because comfort only relieves those who mourn.  Salvation only comes to those who are doomed.  If there is no preaching for the Spirit of God to use to bring sinners to mourning, there will be no comfort to the soul.  If there is no message from God’s Word that shows sinners they are lost, they will have no interest in being found.

7.   Brother Isenberger comes at this time to lead us in singing before this morning’s sermon. 


1.   “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”  Notice what we have in this beatitude:  There is a pronouncement; blessed.  Then, there is a declaration of what they who are blessed do.  Not what they did.  Not what they are going to do.  What they presently do.  Then, there is a promise concerning what God is going to do.

2.   Do you mourn?  That is, do you grieve over your sin?  Does it bother you that you sin against God, that you do things that are wrong, that you are selfish and self-centered?  Are you brokenhearted over your inability in and of yourself to stop sinning and to make yourself clean from the contaminating taint of sin?

3.   How about you dads?  You represent God in your home.  Does it bother you that you set a terrible example for your children?  Does your heart break when you anticipate what your children will turn out like should they end up like you?  Do you sorrow as you anticipate your precious little girl falling into sin and debasing herself, or your son fouling himself in the slop trough of sin?

4.   Mom?  What about you?  You are that person in the home who shows your child the blessedness of being a Christian.  Do you wonder what is wrong with you then your little ones show no inclination to seek the Lord while He may be found?

5.   Set any consideration of children aside for a moment.  Do you reflect upon the anger of the Creator of all things toward you because of your sinning against Him?  Have you enough wisdom to fear God, and then mourn the fact that you are His enemy, mourn the fact that you are dead in trespasses and sins, mourn the fact you stand before God defiled by your sins and denied entrance into heaven when you die?

6.   Most importantly, do you mourn what your sins did to Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross?  Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ died for sins.  What did you do to the Savior so long ago and so far away?  Perhaps not consciously.  Maybe not intentionally.  But you do certainly offend, slight, attack and wrong Him by sinning.

7.   It may seem so very paradoxical to you that blessed is one who mourns, and that he shall someday be comforted.  Perhaps a brief consideration of when in the future the blessed are comforted will clear the matter up just a bit.

8.   Consider this matter of comfort under three headings: 


1B.    The Lord Jesus Christ declared, in Matthew 18.3, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted . . . ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  So you see, if you are not converted you are bound for Hell and then the lake of fire.  Being unconverted is one good reason to mourn.  The heinousness and tragedy of your own sins is another reason to mourn.  The lost man always has reasons to mourn.

2B.    But what happens to comfort the sinner who gets converted?  The Lord Jesus Christ, the living water, once cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”  This speaks of the sinner coming to Jesus Christ, whereupon he is made spiritually alive by being born again, made spiritually clean by having his sins washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, and he is then simultaneously indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  Romans 8.9 declares, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

3B.    But the Holy Spirit Who indwells the believer from the moment of his conversion is declared by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be the Comforter, John chapters 14, 15 and 16.  But what does the Holy Spirit of God do in the life of the mourning and sorrowful sinner who comes to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing and life?  Hello?  The Comforter comforts the newborn sinner-come-to-Christ.  My lost friend, should you come to Christ you will be comforted to the very depths of your soul. 

2A.   But There Is Not Only Comfort At Conversion, THERE IS ALSO COMFORT DURING CONSECRATION

1B.    Decisionists are so oftentimes antinomians, who see no necessary connection between union with Christ and holiness of life, claiming that it is their right and privilege to be “carnal Christians” for the longest time while still eternally secure.  But the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints teaches that those who are truly born again will persist in holiness until the end.  However, because we are not without sin, Christians are involved in a lifelong struggle with indwelling sin.  This, too, produces mourning.  Yes, Christians mourn their own sins.

2B.    The mother who is disappointed by her testimony to her children, by her failure to be a Proverbs 31 kind of wife, is a Christian mother who mourns.  The father who stumbles as the spiritual leader in his home is a dad who mourns.  The Christian of any age or station in life who succumbs to the temptation to be worldly, who fails to witness when given opportunity, who disappoints his boss at work, who for whatever reason does not properly represent Christ . . . is a Christian who mourns his failures, his foolishnesses, and his sins.

3B.    But there came a day in the life of king David when he spoke these words to the congregation of Israel:  “And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?”[8]  The people responded, and then they rejoiced.  So, it is a wonderful thing when God’s people consecrate themselves unto the Lord.  Perhaps there are some of you here today who need to do that.

4B.   You see, repentance does not end when a sinner comes to Christ.  Repentance is a gift that God gives, the gift of a mind and heart that are thoroughly changed toward sin, turned away from sin, and inclined toward Christ.  So, as the struggles with sin continue in the Christian’s life, when he finds himself crying out with Paul, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I,” or when he finds himself aroused from a time of spiritual lethargy and slumber to get back into the fight, there are times when consecration of the Christian’s life is much needed.

5B.    Following those times of consecration the Spirit of God once again comforts the Christian.  And sometimes the sense of relief and the flood of emotion that accompanies the comfort of God are every bit as intense as those emotions surrounding one’s own conversion.  Truly, God is “the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”[9] 


1B.      Understand that I am now referring to all of those events connected to end time prophecy, from the Rapture of the church age saints, to the second coming of Christ in power and great glory, to the establishment of the millennial kingdom, to the Great White Throne judgment, and to the establishing of the eternal state.

2B.      Time prohibits me from speaking much longer, so I will list some of the experiences God’s people will be comforted by in the future:

1C.   Christians will be comforted by the Rapture because we will experience glorification and the end of all struggles with sin in this body of flesh.

2C.   The saints in heaven will be comforted by God’s vindication of them as He pours out His wrath on a gainsaying world and utterly destroys Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots.

3C.   The bride of Christ, those converted during this present era, will be wonderfully comforted by the marriage of the Lamb, by the marriage supper of the Lamb, and by the awesome privilege of ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ for one thousand years. 


1.   Let me close with some tender comments to you folks who are lost.  Suppose you stop resisting God.  Suppose you consider what God has in store for you who will acknowledge your sins, mourn for them, and then come to Christ.

2.   Psalm 30.5 gives us an overview of what will happen from an eternal perspective should you first mourn and then get converted.  Let me read the verse to you:  “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

3.   Is God angry with you now because of your sins?  Yes.  And you mourn because “in his favour is life” and you are out of favor with God.  But your mourning for sin is for a short time if you get converted; “weeping may endure for a night.”  But then there is the joyous morning of your salvation. 

4.   And over the broad stretch of eternity, if you get saved, God’s anger will have been for only a moment, your weeping for sins will have been only for a night, and it will have been worth it all.

[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 163.

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 611.

[3] William Barclay, The Gospel Of Matthew, Vol 1, (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1975), page 93.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 12.

[5] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, Vol 3, Part One, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997), page 26.

[6] W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary, “The Gospel According To Saint Matthew,” Vol I, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991), page 488.

[7] Bauer, pages 764-765.

[8] 1 Chronicles 29.5

[9] 2 Corinthians 1.3-4

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