Matthew 5:4 Elucidation

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Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4

What Does It Mean to Be Blessed With Comfort?

Quite simply, for they shall be comforted. But, what does it mean to be comforted here? Elsewhere in the gospels, we see that people are comforted by others when a loved one dies. For instance, many Jews came to comfort Martha and Mary over the death of Lazarus.(John 11:19.) However, even though Martha and Mary were mourning, and even though they were comforted by their friends, this is not the comfort that Jesus means. The verb in John 11:19 is παραμυθέομαι (paramytheomai), which means to literally comfort as you would expect: console, provide some food and blanket, and mourn with them. But John in his recordings never uses the same 'comfort' that Jesus used.

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus uses παρακαλέω (parakaleō), which has some surprising uses. Consider this exchange, And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.Matthew 8:29-31 Besought is the exact same word as comfort in the Greek. We see this in many other places, such as when the centurion besought Jesus,(Matthew 8:5.) when the diseased in Gennesaret besought Jesus just to touch the hem of his garments,(Matthew 14:35-36.) when the servant in the parable of the unmerciful servant besought the king for patience,(Matthew 18:29. See also 'desiredst' just three verses later.) and finally, when Jesus said, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?Matthew 26:53

Jesus doesn't mean that those who mourn will be provided with warm food and a blanket and calm down. No, he means that they will be called upon. The fact that they will be called on is comforting to those mourning, but it is not, in and of itself, comfort.

What Does It Mean to Be Comforted? Back to Top ↑

Those who mourn will be comforted by being beseeched. Beseeched where? They will be beseeched into the kingdom of God. What greater comfort is there for those that mourn than to be with God, Jesus, and their family?

The king in the parable of the wedding feast sought out all the guests on the highways, but even after seeking them, only those with a wedding garment were allowed to stay. Those who mourn will both be sought and be found with the wedding garment.

Jesus will seek out his sheep from all the nations, and give them the kingdom. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.Matthew 25:31-34 But before the kingdom can be given, the mourners must be found and gathered and comforted.

And what greater comfort can there be than being sought out and told that all woes are over, and the greatest treasure of eternity awaits?

(Additionally, I personally have a suspicion, but not based on anything that Jesus has said, that us humans that have gone through life on this sinful Earth, being immersed and bathed in the sin of ourselves and this world, will be quite popular in Heaven. We would be able to explain to all the other heavenly creatures that don't know what it is like to live with sin what it is like. If that is truly the case, then those that are mourning due to all the sin in the world would surely be comforted by being sought to talk about their experiences in a holy setting.)

What Does It Mean to Mourn? Back to Top ↑

Within the whole of the Old Testament, we see a lot of mourning over two things: death, and sin. Abraham, for example, mourned over the death of his wife,(Genesis 23:2.) and he is far from the only one. However, the mourning over sin is just as prevalent. A psalmist once wrote, Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.Psalm 119:135-136 Hosea prophesied, Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.Hosea 4:1-4

Jesus himself does not care much over those who have died on this Earth. Jesus is the divine spokesperson who said, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32b Jesus saw all who died on Earth as merely sleeping.(As confirmed in John 11:11-14.) This is quite a logical view from the man who learned from God directly,(John 8:28.) and of course, later experienced the cessation of this life and the resurrection. Jesus said, And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28 Why is there a distinction in Jesus's mind? Because he knows that all that die here will be resurrected again, and sifted either into the kingdom of God or the fire.

No, instead, those that mourn are mourning because of how corrupted the whole world is, and just how much better everything could be if they were with God, doing his will. And likewise, that is precisely why they will be comforted by being called into the kingdom of God: because they have listened to Jesus when he said, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:33

And mourning over the lost righteousness of this world shows that you have sought that righteousness diligently. Of course Jesus would invite you to the kingdom of God, for you do the will of God in seeking that righteousness.

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