Tag Archives: beatitudes

The Peacemakers And The Persecuted — Drew Milligan

Jesus began his great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. He began this great discourse by giving a list of blessings that would come as a result of having some wonderful characteristics. These characteristics and subsequent blessings are referred to as the Beatitudes. Two of those beatitudes deal with being peacemakers and being persecuted for righteousness sake. I find it fascinating that Jesus would put these two right next to each other. The reason I say that is because oftentimes those who are peacemakers are the ones who are persecuted. I believe Jesus in His infinite wisdom understood that peacemakers would often be persecuted. Let us look at some things concerning these two great beatitudes from our Lord.

“Blessed Are The Peacemakers, For They Shall Be Called The Children Of God”

What exactly is a peacemaker? According to Webster’s dictionary, a peacemaker is “one who makes peace, especially by reconciling parties at variance.”  We live in a world where there seems to be more agitators and less peacemakers. By looking at verse 9 in Matthew chapter 5, we see that God desires his people to be peacemakers. It says peacemakers shall be called the children of God. All people are children of God as we are all made in his image (Gen. 1:26) even if they reject him as father. When Jesus says in verse 9 that peacemakers shall be called the children of God, there is a strong implication that if a child of God desires to be faithful then he will strive to be a peacemaker. How exactly should a Christian go about being a peacemaker? I submit three ways:

  1. Seek peace with others. The apostle Paul said, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).  There are times when it is not possible to get along with others. It is quite difficult to get along with people who do not desire peace. Paul’s point in Romans 12:18 is that if you can live at peace with people, you need to do so. The peacemaker desires to reconcile with others if at all possible. The peacemaker understands the importance of leaving his gift at the altar and being reconciled with his brother before he proceeds to worship (Matt. 5:24). The peacemaker as Jesus defines them understands the importance of having a merciful and forgiving heart. Jesus taught Peter and the other apostles the importance of being a peacemaker by teaching them about how often one should forgive (Matt. 18:21-22).
  2. Seek peace with self. Isn’t it sad that many people do not have peace with themselves?  How many times in the news have we heard of someone taking their own life?  Many times, those people were not at peace with themselves.  There are those who are not content with their own lives.  They want more and more, bigger and better.  Jesus taught a parable dealing with that (Lk. 12:13-21).  The man in that parable was not content or at peace with what he had and desired more and more.  God called that man a fool and said his soul would be required that very night.  May we always remember to thank God for what He has given us.  God has been very good to each of us.  Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim. 6:6)!
  3. Be at peace with God. More important than being at peace with others and with self is to be at peace with God.  If one is at peace with God, the other two will fall into place.  If I desire to spend eternity with God in heaven, I must be at peace with Him.  How many times have we heard, “Rest in peace,” when someone dies and we know that person did not live for the Lord?  How can someone rest in peace who died not being at peace with God?  One must be a faithful Christian to be at peace with God.  “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  To be at peace with God, I must be willing to die for His cause and be willing to remain faithful to Him all of my days.

“Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted For Righteousness’ Sake, For Theirs Is The Kingdom Of Heaven.”

What does it mean to be persecuted?  A definition I often use when teaching my students at Boyd Christian School about the subject is “being harmed or even killed for what you believe in.”  If one is persecuted for righteousness’ sake, he is persecuted because he is striving to do the will of God and be a faithful member of the church.  How are Christians persecuted today?  In our country, we don’t face the problems faced by first century Christians, but we still face persecution today.

  1. We are persecuted by those in the world. Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate them because it hated Him first (John 15:18).  There are many people in the world who hate Christians.  There are those in other faiths, such as Islam, who despise Christianity and want it wiped from existence.  Then there are the atheists such as Stephen Hawking who famously said, “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe.  But now science offers a more convincing explanation.  What I meant by ‘We would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t.  I’m an atheist.”  People follow him and trust his every word and turn their hatred towards those of the faith.  There is also the LGBTQ movement which is anti-God and blasphemous with their use of the rainbow which God Himself created (Gen. 9:13).  How many times have ministers been tested by those who want a gay marriage performed?  How many times have we heard of florists or bakers who are sued because they will not compromise biblical values?  You can’t forget the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement.  One of our liberal senators recently said that being “pro-life” is code for being against women.  Christians are expected to change their ways to conform with the world’s way of thinking but conform we must not.
  2. We are even persecuted by some in the church. This statement may be one which is hard to swallow.  Christians should not go to the left nor to the right, instead focusing  completely on the cross and doing the will of God (Prov. 4:25-27).  Naturally, when we focus on doing only what God has said, not adding to or taking away, there will be pushback.  Consider that there are many who are in the “progressive” or “liberal” wing of the church of Christ who would call us legalists or patternists because we desire to follow the old paths.  This same bunch will spew sarcasm and disdain when we refuse to accept women preachers or institute mechanical instruments in worship.  Yet on the other side, there are those who try to make up laws for God.  My father worked with a man who said that he might as well worship with a Baptist than to worship where I preach because we have Bible classes.  There are even those who will try to police the brotherhood, marking anyone who speaks on a lectureship with someone who has ties to someone who has ties to a false teacher.  These folks will get on social media and drag good brethren through the mud.  That is no better than Diotrophes (3 John 9-10).

    What Shall We Do?

    First, be thankful.  When we are persecuted, we should count it all joy (Jas. 1:1-4).  To some, that may sound odd.  James is saying that we should be thankful when we are persecuted because it will strengthen our faith and our patience.  Remember that Christ said if the world hates us, it hated Him first (John 15:18).  We should be thankful to endure like our Savior did!

    Let’s not forget to pray for those who mistreat us.  Our Lord said, “But I say to you, love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).  There is a great blessing which comes from praying to God.  One of those blessings is that God will help us deal righteously with those who are unrighteous to us.  When was the last time you prayed for brethren who mock you?  When was the last time you prayed for Muslims or LGBTQ people to come to the truth?  Praying for our persecutors will help bring peace to our lives.

    Drew is the preacher at the Corinth Church of Christ in Rock Island, TN.  He also teaches History, Government, and Middle & High School Bible at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, TN.




The Merciful And The Pure In Heart — Travis Main

Matthew writes:  “‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.’  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (4:15-17).

Early in His ministry, the word of Jesus quickly spread even beyond Israel.  Multitudes followed Jesus, sitting at His feet, and He taught them doctrine unique to their ears, differing from the rabbis, scribes and wise men of Israel.  He did not teach the Law of Moses.  He did not clarify it.  He imparted the teachings of the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus sat down to teach the multitudes in Matthew 5-7, His oration left the people astonished.  At the beginning of His discourse, He stated the following:  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:7-8).  Proclaiming how men could do well for themselves, Jesus spoke of mercy and purity.  He opened the door to things not seen by men, a  peek into how to ultimately dwell in the presence of God.  Indeed, these two traits are living sermons seen in Jesus, the Word of God and the Christian.

The Mercy and Purity of Jesus

The apostle John writes these words of Jesus:  “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (8:29).  The Christ declares that His actions stand as testament that the Father is always with Him.  What a man Jesus was!  He did not covet His position as Deity, but chose to come as a savior to this world of sin (Phil. 2:6).  How the world needs Jesus!

Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (59:2).  Every person walking this earth from the beginning to end — except Jesus — commits sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8).  So when Jesus came to this earth, He found a people in need of spiritual mercy.  They were unclean, unhealthy, impure, weighed down with the filth of sin and therefore separated from the God who created them.  Jesus arrived as a great spiritual purifier for mankind, teaching how to return to God (Mark 2:17).  Yet this is not why the multitudes of Matthew 5-7 followed Jesus.  They were seeking the mercy of His miraculous healing.  Jesus was not just spiritually merciful (Matt. 4:23-24).  He showed compassion in healing all who came to Him (Matt. 9:35-36).  His mercy also caused Him to feed the hungry who followed Him for days on end (Matt. 15:32-38).  He cared about the physical well-being of others and for good reason.  Jesus came to this earth, living in the flesh as a man.  He subjected Himself to the intentional and unintentional consequences of the actions of mankind.  He breathed the same air we do under the same sun.  He experienced temptation and hardship just the same as mankind has since the beginning of time.  He endured what the struggle of mankind feels like.  Thus, Jesus shows mercy spiritually and physically for our plight (Heb. 2:17-18).

However, though merciful, Jesus also needed to be pure.  Purity is demonstrated when an individual lives a life of serving God rather than the world.  Jesus led a life free from the sins that whirled around Him in the lives of mankind.  He rejected temptation (Matt. 4).  He championed thinking on the good things of life.  “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.  When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten…” (1 Pet. 2:22-23).  Peter describes the blood of Christ as that of a lamb without spot (1 Pet. 1:19).  It was only in this way that He would fulfill the Law of Moses and be acceptable as a sacrifice for mankind.  Though He was tempted as us, He did not sin (Heb. 4:15).

In showing mercy to us, Jesus obtained the mercy of the Father who raised Him up from the grave.  By living a life of purity, Jesus “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).  The life He presented to others in Matthew 5-7 turned out to be a living illustration on how things can go well for one’s life.

The Mercy and Purity of the Word of God

The Word of God which Jesus taught was only that which the Father gave Him (John 12:49-50).  Jesus shared a parable in Matthew 18:22-35 which told of a servant forgiven a huge sum by his master.  Sadly, the servant goes away and refuses to show the same mercy to another owing a small debt.  In fact, he causes the man to be thrown in prison over the sum.  When the master hears of the actions of the unmerciful servant, the servant is delivered over to be punished.  God’s Word declares the same will be done by the Heavenly Father to those not showing mercy.  The parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 18 is the other side of “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”  The Word of God displays mercy by not only telling us how to do well, but how to avoid punishment (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Note how the psalmist declares the purity of the way of God!  He wrote:

              “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6).

              “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.  The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8).

Peter refers to the Word of God when he tells Christians to long for the “pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).  As God Himself is pure, so goes His Word.  God is light and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  This is why purity at its simplest and most recognizable form is God.  Many times in Scripture God declared this by declaring that He is holy.  Now consider John 1:1:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John declares Christ as that Word (1:14).  We know God to be merciful and pure.  We know Christ to be merciful and pure.  The Word of God thus demonstrates the traits of mercy and purity as taught by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.

The Mercy and Purity of the Christian

As Jesus spoke to the multitudes, He offered teaching which established what a citizen of the kingdom of God looked like.  The citizen of the kingdom of God replicates Jesus in mercy and purity (Eph. 5:25-27).  The citizen of the kingdom of God also replicates the Word of God in mercy and purity because the Christian sees salvation through the implanted, merciful, and pure Word (James 1:21).  Jesus commanded mankind to be merciful when He shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10).  The apostle Paul preached to the Christians of Colossae telling them of mercy and the moral perfection which is purity (Col. 3:12-14).  Christianity represents the light of God.  In action, true Christianity shows faith in our unrealized hope, the coming of Christ and entrance into His kingdom.  That such a belief mandates traits of mercy and purity becomes clear when Paul speaks of the selfishness and immorality which will keep us out of the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

While speaking to His disciples as they were concerned about rank in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus stated, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).  A young child yet unstained by the world wants to please.  He or she will share their cookies and toys and freely give their love.  They want to do anything they can do to help when someone hurts.  Children demonstrate mercy and purity every day, just like Christ.  These traits need to become ours.  The Father longs for this.  Christ lived it.  The apostles taught it.  The world can  read this in the Word of God which was given for their guidance and perfection.

Jesus, the great Healer of mankind, looked out at the multitudes which constantly surrounded Him and shared the words of the Father which provide eternal life.  He did so knowing they were all condemned to die in sin.  He did so knowing they would eventually beat Him, spit on Him, reject Him and crucify Him.  His greatest act of mercy and purity took place upon that cross as the pure sacrificial lamb of God.  Showing mercy, He pleaded, “Father, forgive them…” (Lk. 23:34).

Travis has been a minister in the Lord’s church for over 15 years.  He is the creator of www.churchofchristarticles.com.



To Meekly Crave Righteousness — Rick Lawson

Every great sermon declares eternal truths and is instructive in its tone.  This is certainly true of the great sermon preached by Jesus that we call the Sermon on the Mount. Consider Matthew 5:5-6: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” In just twenty five words (in the English), Jesus conveys so much spiritual meat upon which his followers may feast! Both requirements and blessings are set forth by our Lord.

“Blessed Are The Meek”

What does Jesus mean by the idea of “blessed?” Often the word “happy” is used to describe the meaning of blessed. The context in which the original Greek word markarios is used connotes not the momentary giddiness resulting from a fleeting pleasant experience, but the deep, abiding joy that comes from the knowledge that God’s pleasure is the result of our obedience to His Word. No matter the immediate circumstance, God’s people can rejoice that the Father smiles down upon His faithful children.

The subject of this beatitude is meekness. Often meekness is equated with weakness or resignation, but this is due to modern usage of the term. The student of the Bible must examine the way that the word is used in the Scriptures. Thayer says that to be meek is to be gentle and mild. In the Outline of Biblical Usage meekness is described this way:

“Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest.  It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation.  The gentle person is not occupied with self at all.”

Meekness must not be seen as weakness. Meekness is strength under control. Moses is called the meekest man in the world (Num. 12:3), yet he had enormous authority as the leader of God’s people in the Old Testament. Jesus described Himself as meek, though He created and upholds the universe with the Word of His power (Matt. 11:29; Heb. 1:2-3).  God has always promised to bless the meek. “The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever” (Ps. 22:26). “The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground” (Ps. 147:6). See also Psalm 25:9; 67:9; 149:4 and Isaiah 29:19.  Pride, selfishness and conceit are characteristics of the lost, and will be responsible for untold numbers being condemned to hell for all eternity. Entire nations have perished because of the sin of pride, and nations will surely continue to fall due to it. Meekness, gentleness, and self-control are the spiritual qualities required by God. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1Tim. 6:11).

The message of this beatitude is similar to Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  The blessing promised by Jesus to the meek is that they will inherit the earth. It is clear that the earth belongs to God (Ex. 19:5), and no man can conquer God or take by force that which belongs to God. The earth is God’s to give or to withhold. This is why Jesus uses the term “inherit.” The good things that this world has to offer are bestowed upon the faithful by God Himself, as an earthly father bequeaths his possessions to his heirs. A similar promise is made by Jesus in Matthew 19:29:  “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” The faithful may never receive the wealth, popularity, or approval sought by worldly men, but God’s blessings are the only ones that matter. Jesus says the way to receive these things is through meekness.

“Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness”

Psychologists classify hunger and thirst as two of the strongest drives that motivate human beings. A man can only live without water for a few days. The human brain is 95% water, and a 2% drop in a person’s hydration level can cause symptoms of dehydration. When starved, food becomes the primary concern of men. I was on a mission trip to Thailand some years ago and visited a poor village. While there, I saw a number of people walking around during the day. Curious, I asked my translator, “What do these people do for work?” The translator was confused by my question. He replied, “Sir, their job is finding something for them and their families to eat today.” Hunger is a strong drive!

The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)  Jesus taught that the hunger and thirst for righteousness should motivate mankind.  Righteousness is defined by Strong as “the character or quality of being right or just.”  The follower of Jesus should long for that which is right.  He should seek for that which is true.

Everyone is motivated by something.  Many are driven by the desire to obtain material things, but these pass away.  Many are motivated by carnal desires and pleasures of this life, but these lead to shame and dissatisfaction.  The approval of men is the motivation behind many of the choices made by the ungodly, and they often receive it.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were men like this.  He warned His disciples, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:1-2).

Nothing is better than a cold drink of water to the thirsty man, and God provides what man needs.  He has said that those who seek the righteousness of God shall find it.  “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7).

Hydration and nutrition sustain physical life. The Word of God provides for the spiritual needs of men. Consider some parallels between material food and water and spiritual sustenance. Just as man must eat and drink on a regular, ongoing basis, so must man partake of the Bible. Like the noble Bereans, man must search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). As physical food must be digested and assimilated to be beneficial, so must the Bible be understood and applied to life. This is what David meant when he wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). When a man hides the Word in his heart he puts the Devil on the run!

The intake of water and food must be of sufficient quantity for man to thrive. Similarly, man’s intake of spiritual food must be adequate. Studying a few verses, ripped from their proper context, to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible is dangerous and deadly. One might as soon try to exist on a single food to the exclusion of all others. The American Standard version renders Psalm 119:160: The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever.” Don’t settle for some when you need the sum! The entire Bible should be studied and rightly divided by the servant of God (2 Tim. 2:15). This is how the child of God makes his “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).

The World Health Organization reports that 1.8 billion people around the world are forced to use water contaminated by human waste. I wonder how many are basing their religion on doctrines contaminated by human opinions, thoughts and ideas. Surely the number is much higher than 1.8 billion! Man’s spiritual needs are only met by the unadulterated, pure message from God. If contaminated, spiritual sickness and death is the result. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). What would you think of a farmer who carefully smashed each kernel of corn seed to dust with a hammer before planting it? That is a farmer who will never grow a crop! Man must not tamper with God’s Seed if he expects it to bear fruit in the hearts of men (Lk. 8:11).

Just as the meek shall inherit the earth, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. What a blessing to realize that God does not offer adequacy, but abundance (John 10:10)! Dear reader, you too can be filled to the brim with the blessings that God offers. With meekness and humility search out the righteousness of God with fervor and urgency, and submit to His will for your life. Heaven is yours to gain!

Rick is a 1999 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, an instructor for the Georgia School of Preaching (Marietta and Adairsville campuses), and has served as the evangelist of the Adairsville, GA church of Christ since 2013.



The Blessings of Brokenness and Heartache — Stephen Scaggs

There is an old story about an old rabbi who said, “In olden days there were men who saw the face of God.”

“Why don’t they anymore?” a young student asked.

“Because nowadays, no one stoops that low,” he replied.

Who wants to stoop down? Who wants to be a lowly person? In the focus of our study, we want to look at Matthew 5:3-4, which begin a section known as the beatitudes of Jesus. Many spend their lives trying to pull themselves up. Society teaches us to walk tall. But according to our Teacher, God blesses those who are lowly – those stooped low. In our limited space, I wish to share with you three things: (1) What is the history of the word translated “blessed”? (2) What does it mean to be broken? (3) And what does it mean to have heartache?

The History of “Blessed”

How Jesus uses the word “blessed” (makarios) runs against His Hellenistic culture. In ancient Greek times, the blessed ones (makaroioi) referred to the gods. These blessed ones received happiness and contentment in life that surpassed all cares, labors, and even death. The blessed ones lived in a different world, free of the cares, problems, and worries of ordinary people. Thus, in Greek culture people only considered the gods as blessed (makarios).

An alternative meaning of makarios in Hellenistic culture refers to death. Humans, through death, reach the other world of the blessed ones. They were beyond the cares, problems, and worries of an earthly life. Thus, in Greek culture you had to die before people considered you blessed. This is the origin of the Catholic Church teaching of individual saint days – remembering saints on the date of their death. “All Saints Day” was for all the saints they did not know.

In Jesus’ day, makarios came to refer to the elite, the upper crust of society, the wealthy people. It referred to those who had riches and power, putting them above the cares, problems, and worries of the lesser people – those who constantly struggled, worried, and labored in life. Thus, in Jesus’ day people considered you blessed if you were rich and powerful.

In all these meanings, being blessed referred to a higher plane than the common people. They were either gods, humans who went to be with the gods via death, or humans who had accumulated many possessions. They were people who lived above the normal cares, problems, and worries of the common people.

Jesus uses makarios radically different to its historical usage. God does not bless the elite, but those who have realized their brokenness. He does not bless those without problems, but those who openly ache in their hearts.

The Blessing of Brokenness

The term translated “the poor” (ptōchoi) means “to crouch as a helpless beggar.” Scolding the Galatian Christians, Paul asked, “How can you turn back again to the weak and worthless (ptōcha) elementary principles of the world?” (Gal. 4:9).  This is not a man who struggles to make a living.  This is utter bankruptcy, “a poverty beaten to its knees” as William Barclay put it  in his Daily Study Bible’s comments on Matthew 5. Thus, in this context, to be poor means total dependence on others for help.  The “poor in spirit” are those who are painfully aware of their personal standing and their need for help from God.

Such receive the kingdom of God. Those who are poor, downtrodden, and oppressed. Those who have no influence, power, or prestige. When men close their resources to the poor, they can only look to God. These are those who have nothing on earth, who have come to put complete confidence in God. Those who see their spiritual emptiness and poverty. Those who sense their irremediable brokenness and need for God’s restoration. To these, God gives the treasures of His grace and He lays up crowns of joy for them in heaven.

As the “Man of Sorrows” (Is. 53:3), Jesus understands the language of our pain. He was constantly amid the hurting, the forgotten, and the rejected. When the religious leaders complained against Jesus, He answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 5:30-32). Unless we become as little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). As the psalmist said, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).

The Blessing of Heartache

The word for mourn is penthountes. This mourning refers to that sorrow which pierces the heart and expresses itself in loud, audible sobs and visible in large streams of tears. According to HELPS Word Studies, it is to “grieve over a death” or figuratively to “grieve over a personal hope that dies.” Barclay comments that this is “the kind of grief which takes such a hold on a man that it cannot be hid. It is not only the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings the unrestrainable tears to the eyes.” When the brothers told the fake news to their father about how the wolves killed Joseph, Jacob mourned (epenthei; LXX; Gen. 37:34). When Mary of Magdala told the disciples that Jesus had risen, they were mourning (penthousi; Mark 16:10).

Blessed are those who are mourning… over what? Jesus does not specify, but it seems the overall sense of heartache over present circumstances and over stubborn sin. Paul scolded the Christians in Corinth for their lack of distress (epenthēsate) over their erring brother (1 Cor. 5:2), and he knew that if he had to come to Corinth again that he would mourn (penthēsō) because many of them had not given up their old sins (2 Cor. 12:21).

Mourning is the expression of care, the voice of pain, the sorrow of a broken heart. Those who mourn care deeply; they feel the weight of loss; they grieve over sin. In grieving over sin, there is no place to hide or rationalization – just the raw realization of our fatal condition apart from God and the sincere appeal for God’s mercy. Mourning over our sins draws us to God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). Truly, God’s Word is the ultimate source of comfort. The psalmist knew that amid his conflict that God’s Word had kept him alive (Ps. 119:50). Another source of comfort is that, “I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). Even in the “shadow of the valley of death” (i.e., this broken and declining world), the Lord is with us with His presence (Ps. 23:4). When we mourn, God will comfort us, literally “to come alongside.”


In these two blessings, brokenness and heartache, we can see the paradox when compared to the values of the world. Even though we live two thousand years removed from Jesus’ words, the world we live in still lives by the iron rule that might makes right. Yet these words of Jesus are meant to give us hope…that in His upside-down kingdom, true strength comes from dependence on Him as the source of our salvation.

“For You would not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it, nor be pleased by burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

  — Psalm 51:13-19 

Stephen is a 2012 alumnus of the Memphis School of Preaching in Memphis, TN.  He is currently living in Dublin, GA, where he is seeking to further his education in ministry.  He is married to Rebekah and they have two children, Emmett and Edison.