When was the last time you lost something important?
- socks (meaningless, but frustrating)
- I recently willingly lost (sold) a guitar I really liked (I’m still a little sad)
We loosely use the term grief when this happens…
We don’t however loosely use that term when we lose someone, do we? Relational losses come via death and via conflict – either aren’t easy. How about grieving what we never had or were able to have? (for some it’s a relationship with a parent, for others it’s child, you fill in the ________ )
As we continue our conversation in the Beatitudes, Jesus says something very strange about grief & mourning…you ready for this? BLESSED are those who MOURN! Think about that for a min.
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The Beatitudes are found at the beginning of what we’ve come to know as the Sermon on the Mount. In this section of Matthew (5-7) we hear Jesus’ thoughts on Relationships, Love, Prayer, Anger, Giving, Worry, Trust, Loyalty, The Lord’s Prayer, etc. Jesus doesn’t wait too long to get to the point. By doing this, he sets up everything that follows.
Matthew tells us that he sat down to teach. Very common for Rabbi’s to sit. It motioned that something important was about to be said. “You think I need to raise my voice for something important, instead I will take a seat and say these simply”
His posture actually speaks to what Jesus was about to get at.
The Beatitudes reflect a reverse way of moving forward as well as anything else Jesus said.
“If you wanna be where others can’t get to, you have to do things differently than others are doing.”
Happy are…Blessed are…the poor? The grieving? The hungry? The meek? What could make more sense in some ways would be to say…Blessed are the Rich, the settled, the filled, the powerful, the winners, the strong, the successful. That’s a little more normal.
Remember this crowd is unique. They’re made up of close disciples, followers, and the very intrigued. All of them are either broken and poor because they’ve chosen to already follow Jesus or because they’ve come in that condition looking for something better.
This message to them (and to us) is good news. It’s the gospel in 8 simple lines.
Remember the first line line? Blessed are the poor in Spirit (last week’s recap).
Here’s line #2…
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
What is Jesus talking about…what is he possibly saying? TWO THINGS…
(1) Blessed are those who grieve and mourn for what you’ve lost or what you’ve suffered through!
For many reasons, good and bad, we want to avoid pain – we tend to run from feeling any kind of discomfort. Wisdom though, would tell us that those who embrace our pain, our struggle, our grief, will be the ones who get through it.
Churchill once said, “When you’re going through hell…just keep walking.” His point is simple, if you stop walking, you’ll never get through it.
Judaism has a tradition called Shivah. This is the process for grief & morning. Shivah simply means 7…but more importantly reflects the 7 days one should take to experience grief and loss. Why 7? Because it forces you to sit in and embrace your pain. Why else 7? Because there’s an end to it as well.
“When we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, we greet it differently, we become willing to let it teach us.” (Henri Nouwen)
“We fool ourselves when we insist on easy victories – we want growth without crisis, healing without pain, resurrection without the cross.” (Henri Nouwen)
Paul, referring to a conversation he’s having with Jesus in prayer says this about suffering…
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:8-10)
James (ch 1) says, “…Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And then… “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
So, you can take Jesus’ words in this Beatitude to help us when we’re going through loss or difficulty. And the crowd that day could’ve easily heard it this way.
As important as this is, I do believe there’s something else Jesus is (also) saying here. It’s this…
(2) Blessed are those who grieve and mourn over sin…and brokenness
We’re talking about the sin & brokenness in the world, and the sin and brokenness in us.
If grief and mourning is associated with loss…think about how much we lose when we’re ignorant of the sin in our lives and the sin in this world.
Jesus said, I came for those who need a doctor, those who need help, not those who think they’re good on their own. (Matthew 9:13) Henri Houwen, reflecting on Jesus’ words, addresses this so well, “…only those who can face their wounded condition can be available for healing and enter a new way of life”.
The word for mourning in this text is the strongest in the greek language…and does in fact refer to mourning for the dead. This makes sense if Jesus wants us to grieve sin, as we’re told many times in scripture, that sin leads to death.
So what’s Jesus getting at?
Deal with your sin.
Feel deeply sad about the brokenness around you.
Grieve injustice, evil, wrong doing, etc.
Acknowledge the dark stuff in the world, and the dark stuff in me.
We started our conversation today thinking about the things we’ve lost – both the insignificant and the significant. Think about what we lose with sin?
I love this quote… “The bible presents sin by way of major concepts principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is missing of a target, a wandering from a path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it – both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal.” (Cornelius Plantinga)
Wow. Even though sin and brokenness is familiar, it should never be normal to us.
Dallas Willard says, “The Spirit comforts those who are honest about their own sin, and those humble enough to ask for forgiveness and healing.”
So who are blessed? Those who are honest about their brokenness. Who are comforted? Those who are sincere about what and where they are lacking.
I’ll never forget this line I heard as a teenage (so many years ago)…
What is worse than feeling bad when you sin? Feeling Nothing.
There isn’t any place in the human story you can look to where you won’t find a little grief, and little morning, about a little or a lot of brokenness. The question then is, will we grieve what is broken?
“Suffering is the necessary feeling of evil. If we don’t feel evil we stand antiseptically apart from it, numb. We can’t understand evil by thinking about it. The sin of much of our world is that we stand apart from pain; we buy our way out of the necessary pain of being human. Some forms of suffering are necessary so that we know evil, so that we can name evil and confront it. Otherwise we somehow dance through this world and never really feel what is happening. We must all feel and know the immense pain of humanity. The free space that God leads us into is to be able to feel the full spectrum, from great exaltation and joy, to the pain of mourning and dying and suffering. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the Body of Christ.”
Every week we’re looking at one simple line from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5. This week, take this thought home with you:
Embrace your struggle.
Embrace your pain.
Acknowledge your sin.
Grieve over the brokenness in our world, in our cities, in our neighbourhoods.
This, Jesus says, is what makes you blessed. This, he says, is what leads to true comfort.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases the second simple line (beatitude) so well…
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
A bunch of years ago I was a fan of a family sit-com. Anyone remember, “8 simple rules”?
– 2 parents / 3 kids
– the kids were different & unique (one daughter was vain, the other was smart, the son was rambunctious)
– This was also John Ritter’s final show (sad)
The point of the title was that you can’t sum up parenting in 8 simple rules…too complex…
– we try though…it makes us feel like we got it together…
– 5 ways to a better this…6 ways to a successful that…7 ways to have an organized life or closet or house…
Jesus was good at narrowing things down to a few take home bullet points – Not because he wanted to make things simple, but because he wanted to make them stick. Most times he taught through stories, so when he did provide or offer a list, there had to be a good reason. Both his stories and his lists accomplished the same thing: mess with your head and heart and lead you to life change or a change in perspective.
For the next few weeks we will be diving into 8 simple lines…not so simple lines…from Jesus.
Matthew 5-7 is a collection of Jesus’ teaching that he shared on a hillside. In this section of Matthew we hear Jesus teaching on Relationships, Love, Prayer, Anger, Giving, Worry, Trust, Loyalty, The Lord’s Prayer, etc.
The Beatitudes are found at the beginning of this section. Jesus doesn’t wait long to get to the point. By doing this, he sets up everything that follows.
Matthew tells us that he sat down to teach. It would be very common for Rabbi’s to sit while teaching. It motioned that something important was about to be said. Very different than today where we feel we have to rise above the crowd to get people’s attention.
His posture actually speaks to what Jesus was about to get at.
The Beatitudes reflect a reverse way of moving forward as well as or better than anything else Jesus said.
“If you wanna be where others can’t get to, you have to do things differently than others are doing.”
Seriously Jesus…Happy are…Blessed are…the poor? The grieving? The hungry? The meek?
One glance and you can see how you either tuned in or quickly tuned out. It could and would make more sense in some ways to say, blessed are the rich, the settled, the filled, the powerful, the winners, the strong, the successful. Right?
But this crowd is unique. They’re made up of close disciples, followers, and the very intrigued.
– The Disciples have experienced risking and losing a lot to follow Jesus
– Other followers are marginalized and hoping to turn things around with this Jesus guy.
– And you have a whole bunch that are on the fence seeing if he’s for real.
Jesus speaks to them. To this crowd. To these people. And this message to them (and to us) is good news. It’s the gospel. With the words that come from Jesus’ mouth, he announces a reversal to the social norm – a counter cultural message. That message, to this crowd, is good news. Here it is…the first simple line…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
What is Jesus talking about? He is honouring and cheering on those who are spiritually bankrupt.
“To be poor in spirit is not to lack courage, but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy”
We often read this and quickly veer to the poor among us – the physically poor.
Jesus isn’t omitting them. You can’t read Jesus’ stories and the rest of the Bible and not see that God’s heart beats for the poor, the marginalized, the hurting. The Good News is for them. And it’s our responsibility to share this good news in real and tangible ways. I hope that one of the take homes from our last series (Present over Perfect) was the Spirit nudging you to be more present with the poor – to be present to needs around you. I know I was praying for that to happen…in me and in you. (Read Matthew 25…if you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me)
But as much as we are called to be present with the poor and the marginalized, this first phrase is about more than that.
Blessed are the poor in spirit means two things:
– God blesses those who are poor in spirit
– We must all acknowledge our spiritual poverty
There are various forms of poverty, aren’t there? Emotional. Intellectual. Physical. Relational. Financial.
When you really think about it…there are lots of area’s in our life where we are lacking.
When Jesus says that we must be poor in spirit, he’s actually contrasting his economy to our world’s economy.
Dallas Willard says…“Under the rule of God, the rich and the poor have no necessary advantage over each other with regard to well being in this life or the next.”
That means that, “True equality occurs with those who are poor in spirit. Because, Rich or Poor, we all need God.”
Listen to what Jesus says, through John, to a church in Revelation (3:17-18)…You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
The crowd Jesus is speaking to had come to grips with a very important reality – they need help. We must come to that same reality. I am poor in spirit. Why? If I don’t, I’m just fooling myself.
Two things Jesus is declaring to those who are poor in spirit…spiritually bankrupt…
– They are Blessed
– They are part of the Kingdom of Heaven
Blessed (Makarious in greek) = whole, well, happy
Kingdom of Heaven = God’s ways, in our space, both now and in the future
This is GOOD NEWS!
And this here, folks, is Jesus announcing that God doesn’t play favourites. The Kingdom of heaven cannot be bought or earned. Rich or Poor, both must arrive to it the same way…humbly.
“Jesus was the first world leader to inaugurate a kingdom with a heroic role for losers. He spoke to an audience raised on stories of wealthy patriarchs, strong kings, and victorious heroes. Much to their surprise, he honoured instead people who have little value in the visible world: the poor and meek, the persecuted and those who mourn, social rejects, the hungry and thirsty. His stories consistently featured ‘the wrong people’ as heroes: the prodigal, not the responsible son; the good Samaritan, not the good Jew; Lazarus, not the rich man; the tax collector, not the Pharisee. The glory of the church is when she lays aside her respectability and her dignity, and gathers together the outcasts.”” (Philip Yancey)
Stu Garrard puts it this way, “God is on the side of everybody for whom there’s no reason why God should be on their side.”
So…Every week we’ll look at one simple line from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5. This week, simply take home one word with you: poverty.
“While our symptoms and our causes are as unique as the freckles on our skin, we’re all united by one simple word: poverty. We’re all poor in some way shape or form. None of us can make it on our own.”
If we can get to the place where we acknowledge our inadequacy and our brokenness, that is where we will meet God.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases this beatitude so well…“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
It’s that time of year again when love is in the air and on everyone’s minds! We “love” married Life Live because it gives couples a chance to connect with others in a fun and interactive way. There’s always music, food, and even a guest speaker. This year on February 23rd we’re back to the Brooklin Community Centre. Be sure to sign up and let us know you’re coming!
Speakers: Charlie and Becky Mashinter
Music By: Greg Mashinter
Hosted By: The BroLaws
Who are Charlie and Becky?
Charlie & Becky have been married for over 30 years. They’ve been through ups and downs, but have always relied on their marriage as a source of strength. We’ll be hearing some thoughtful advice and encouragement that’s emerged from their story and experience. Charlie & Becky have four children, their eldest passed away in 2003. They currently live in Stouffville and are lovingly serving their community and local church there.
Small groups are happening in February and March. We currently have two groups set to go.
Wednesdays: Jordan & Sarah’s House. 7:30pm 9485 Baldwin St. N, Ashburn
Wednesdays: Ken & Caroline’s House. 7:30pm 19 Worfolk Place, Whitby
If you’re interested in hosting a group send an email and let us know!
Here are the dates:
Feb 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
March 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
Alpha is a series of interactive sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith.
Each session looks at a different question, and is designed to create conversation. No two Alphas look the same. They run in coffee shops, churches, bars, prisons, universities, schools and homes. There’s no pressure, no follow up and no charge; it’s just an open, informal, and honest space to explore and discuss life’s big questions together.
We’ll be meeting Mondays at 7 PM starting February 5 and running until April 6th.
Where you ask? At The Goodberry cafe in Brooklin.
Send us an email to reserve your space or to ask more questions. Hope to see you there!
Want more info? Click HERE!