“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Why is it important that we look at this verse? One might say, “It’s in the Bible, so it’s important,” and that is a very good reason. However, more specifically, why is it important that we look at this passage? One of the great reasons is that the Beatitudes should be viewed as a unit, and if a unit, then we can also view the blessings that are spoken of in each Beatitude as connected.
For instance, notice the blessing in verse three for those who are poor in spirit, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is a spiritual blessing. We can infer from this that those who are not poor in spirit will not enter into Heaven. Look at the blessing in verse eight for those who are pure in heart, “For they shall see God.” It is a spiritual blessing. Again, we can infer, in light of this verse, that those who are not pure in heart will not see God. They will not go to Heaven. Even the blessing in verse five for those who are meek, “For they shall inherit the earth,” is a spiritual blessing because one day Heaven will be on earth (Revelation 21:1-3).
If these blessings are spiritual why should we not also view “for they shall be comforted” as a spiritual blessing dealing with eternity? So this is one great reason why we should give great attention to this verse: if we do not mourn in the sense that this verse speaks of then we will not be comforted, and if we are not comforted, Heaven will not be our home. If all the other blessings are speaking of spiritual blessings, blessings dealing with eternity, why not this one? So we should be sure of this, that if we do not mourn as this verse teaches us, we will not see Heaven, we will not be saved.
What does it mean to mourn?
What does it mean in this verse to mourn? Is it speaking of any type of mourning? One might say, “It just says ‘mourn,’ therefore it means any type of mourning.” No doubt many people have mourned in various ways and have, as a result of their mourning, received comfort. For instance, many of us have mourned the death of a loved one. What have we felt at times of great lose when we have mourned? We have felt comfort. Many of us can testify to that fact. It is a good thing to mourn. God wants us to mourn at times. They mourned for Moses for thirty days after he died (Deuteronomy 34:8). However, is this the mourning spoken of here by our Lord? Is Jesus speaking about mourning over the death of a loved one? As good and biblical as mourning in this way can be, this is not the type of mourning Jesus speaks of. Remember this blessing is a spiritual blessing, it is speaking of an eternal blessing. With that in mind let us ask ourselves how many people have we known who mourned the death of a loved one (and rightfully so) and yet refused to believe in Jesus? They mourned in a physical sense, but they did not receive a spiritual blessing, and perished in their sins.
Again, someone might argue that because it only says “mourn” here it must be speaking of any kind of mourning. However, this type of biblical interpretation simply will not work, for Jesus says in the second half of Luke 6:25, “Woe to you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep.” Is Jesus speaking of any kind of laughter? Is any kind of laughing going to bring us to mourning and weeping? Of course not. The Proverbs say, “A joyful heart does good like a medicine,” and if one has a joyful heart there will usually be laughter at times, right? When Jesus speaks of “mourning,” He is not speaking of any kind of mourning. Likewise, when Jesus speaks of those that “laugh,” He is not speaking of any type of laughter.
But if He isn’t speaking of any type of mourning, then what exactly is He speaking of? Keep in mind the spiritual nature of the blessings. What, then, is it to be spiritually “comforted”? Is it not eternal happiness? Yes, but look at who receives this comfort. Is it not they that mourn? What else could this mean but the one who mourns for sin shall be comforted? And if someone mourns over their sins, not only will they be comforted with the forgiveness of their sins but ultimately comforted in Heaven, with God forever. This goes along with the second half of Luke 6:25. What type of laughing is being spoken of that leads to mourning and weeping? It is laughing at sin, laughing at spiritual things, laughing at things that one should not laugh at. The person who laughs at sin now will weep and mourn then, but the person who mourns for their sins now will be comforted then (and comforted now. Praise God!).
Do you mourn for sin?
If Jesus is teaching that only those who mourn for sin will be comforted, and only those who are comforted will enter into Heaven, then we need to ask ourselves, “Am I mourning for sin?” Do I grieve over my sins and repent of them or do I laugh at sin and enjoy them? As it has been said, can you laugh at the things that Jesus died for? Can you enjoy the things that Jesus died for? Can you watch movies and enjoy the sinful things that happen? Are your favorite shows “The Family Guy” and “Desperate Housewives” and similar shows? Can you enjoy the horrible things that happen on shows like these? Can you knowingly sin with the attitude “I will repent later” or knowingly continue in sin without feeling any remorse or feeling any hurt in your conscience? Do you plan in advance to sin? Do you plan your sin according to when your parents are going to be away from the house and look forward to these times? If so, it sounds as if you are not mourning for sin. And if you do not mourn for sin you will not be comforted, regardless if you confess to be a Christian or not. Mourning for sin is a sign that someone is truly a Christian and if you do not mourn over your sins it is because you are not saved.
Notice how different this message is
Notice how different this message is from the world’s message about how to be comforted. The world says, “You want to be happy? You want to be comforted? Then forget about your sin. Why are you even thinking about it? If you want to be happy forget it, push it out of your mind.” The world says, “Why are you going to church for? If you want to be comforted, if you want to be happy, don’t go to a church that speaks about sin. Those people only want you to be miserable. If you want to be happy forget about that.” The world says, “Why are you reading your Bible? It only makes you feel guilty. It contradicts your lifestyle. Why would you read a book that makes you feel that way? If you want to be comforted stop reading it!” But Jesus says if you want true comfort don’t forget your sins, but repent of them. He says if you want true comfort then mourn for your sins. Don’t forget your sins, but deal with them.
Some might say, “This is a negative message, I don’t want a negative message, I want a positive one, one that makes me feel good.” It is negative in one sense, but it is truly a gloriously positive message. Let me ask you, would you tell your doctor that you don’t want a negative message from him, but only a positive one? Would you tell him that you only want good news no matter what, news that would make you feel good? Of course not. If he is a good doctor he will tell you the truth, even if the message he has makes you feel troubled, and even if he tells you he will need to perform surgery on you. Is his message negative? Maybe in one sense. But what is the intent? Is it not a positive one? In the same way when a preacher speaks to you about things you don’t want to hear about, like sin, Hell, judgment, and the wrath of God, he should be saying these things not only to make you tremble, but to save your soul. His message might be negative in one sense, but it’s intent is for your good. A “preacher” who never speaks about sin, Hell, judgment, and the wrath of God (or if he neglects the love of God, too) is not presenting the message of the Bible, because the Bible is full of these truths.
“Mourning” is not enough
However, I want you to notice that mourning, at least in one sense, is not enough to bring you comfort. Yes, when one mourns like Jesus speaks of here, yes, that is enough. But many times today when we speak of “mourning” we do not speak about the same thing that Jesus spoke of.
Our conception of mourning many times is simply “feeling bad” for something we have done or regretting an action we have taken. But this is not what Jesus means when He speaks of mourning. Yes, these things should be included. We should feel bad for what we have done, we should feel remorse, sorrow over our sins, yes. But this is not enough. In Matthew 27:3, one translation of the Bible says of Judas that, “When he saw that he was condemned, repented himself,” but a better translation of the word “repented” in this verse would be “remorse.” Judas felt remorse for what he had done, but never came back to God and repented.
Someone can “feel bad” for what they have done and never repent of their sins. Someone can feel guilty and yet still continue in their sins. The only comfort that the Bible promises is for those that repent of sin, and the only true repentance that the Bible speaks of is one who whole heartedly turns from sin. If you ask God to forgive you of a sin but in your heart you still plan on continuing in that same sin, you have not repented of that sin, but are only trying to play games with God. One who truly mourns for sin repents with the attitude, “Lord, please forgive me, I will never do that again.” He might be found guilty of that same sin in the future, but he does not willfully go back to it.
Yes, feel guilt, feel remorse, feel sorrow, feel disturbed about your sin, but don’t stop there. That’s not enough. To be comforted, yes you must mourn over your sins, but you must also leave them. Turn from your sins with your whole person and turn to God, turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
What happens to the person who mourns for sin? The Bible promises they will be comforted, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” This is a promise from Jesus Christ. What does this look like in the Christian life? How is this a sign of the true Christian? The true Christian still mourns for his sins even though his sins are forgiven. The fact that the Christian is grieved over the sins he commits is not a sign that he is not a true Christian, but is a sign that he really knows God. We will never be without sin in this life (1 John 1:8, 10) and if this is the case the Christian will never stop mourning for sin. This does not mean that I am constantly in a conscious state of mourning. No, because there can be great joy in the Christian life. But it does mean that one great mark of all true Christians is that they will grieve and mourn over the sins that they commit and turn to the God who, when we confess our sins to Him, is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Mourning is one of the great signs that someone has become a Christian. Is this great sign found in your life? Is it found in the life of those you preach and teach to? Only by getting a true view of ourselves and a true view of God will lead us to mourn over our sins. If this has not happened to you pray that God would make you a mourner, show you your sin, and show you who He is. It is not how great your mourning is, but if you are a mourner. What a comfort it is to know that your sins are forgiven. Don’t keep your sins, but leave them and mourn over them. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Receive comfort today.
 I believe that “mourning” also can apply to Christians mourning for the sins of others and this is how Jesus fulfilled this truth, by mourning for the sins of other individuals, because, of course, Jesus never sinned in any way whatsoever (Hebrews 4:15).