#2 (THE "BEATTITUDES" SERIES)
"THE MEANING OF MOURNING"
TEXT: Matt. 5:4; 23:37; Luke 6:21b, 25b; 15:11-32
INTRO: Again Jesus issues a "blessing" on a strange kind of thing ... "mourning." The term translated here for "blessing" literally means "happy." What could possibly be happy about mourning? Jesus is not so much saying mourning is a blessing, but the results that come from mourning can be.
How? Mourning is a sign of great emotion and it is often great emotions that motivate us to do great things. Here is the secret to this second beatitude. Those who mourn tend to be those who find happiness because the anguish leads to action, it can end in positive ways that make us stronger.
We are fast approaching a time when we as a people are becoming passionless. We are so bombarded with stuff to stir our emotions that we have become dull to experiencing them anymore.
The whole nature of sin should be repulsive to us. Our own sins as well as those of the world, sin does not stir us up anymore. Where is the anger over sin, the sorrow over sin, whether it is ours or someone else's sin? People can not be saved unless they are convicted of their sins and experience sorrow over them.
We are called upon to "mourn" over sin and sin's hold over us and mankind. The emotions that will be stirred in us will yield the fruit of repentance, which brings a great joy.
ILLUS: THE GREAT SAINT CHRYSOSTOM WAS ARRESTED BY THE ROMAN EMPEROR WHO WANTED TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OUT OF HIM TO SCARE PEOPLE AWAY FROM CHRIST. HE DISCUSSED WITH HIS ADVISORS WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO THIS CHRISTIAN. THEY ADVISED THE EMPEROR AGAINST PUTTING HIM IN A DUNGEON. THEY TOLD THE RULER THAT HE WOULD ONLY BE TOO GLAD TO BE IMPRISONED FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. THEY SAID IN PRISON HE WOULD HAVE TIME TO MEDITATE AND CALL ON GOD IN PEACE. THIS WOULD NOT WORK! THE EMPEROR SAID, "WELL, THEN WE SHOULD EXECUTE HIM." BUT AGAIN THEY TALKED HIM OUT OF THIS. THEY SAID HE WOULD ONLY BE TOO GLAD TO DIE FOR CHRIST FOR HE WOULD THEN BE IN THE IMMEDIATE PRESENCE OF THE LORD HE LOVED. THE EMPEROR THEN ASKED, "WHAT CAN BE DONE THEN TO CAUSE HIM PAIN?" ONE ADVISER SAID, "THERE IS ONLY ONE THING THAT WOULD GIVE CHRYSOSTUM PAIN, MAKE HIM SIN, HE IS AFRAID OF NOTHING EXCEPT SIN." THAT WE WOULD HAVE SUCH BROKENNESS TODAY OVER SIN! -- Source Unknown
Psalm 30:5 states, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Only when we learn to weep over sin can we experience the joy that comes from being healed of it. If it does not upset us, we will find no delight in salvation either.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to be broken over sin, either in our own lives or in the lives of others. This brokenness will cause us to mourn, but mourning will move us to act in repentance and the result will be cleansing and joy. "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."
I. MOURNING FOR SIN Matt. 5:4; Luke 6:21b, 25b; 15:11-24
A. Indifference to Sin 15:11-16
1. This younger son had grown cold toward sin ... and no doubt it was a gradual process.
a. Right and wrong were not concerns at this point, just having fun and enjoying life.
b. His view of life was geared for "the now," and so he wants his inheritance immediately.
c. He had become accustomed to the lifestyle of those sinners around him and so no longer felt repulsed by their sinfulness. He wanted to have what they had.
2. This is the nature of sin. It attracts us when we no longer are repulsed by its true nature. We become accustomed to its presence ... we are no longer shocked!
ILLUS:IN SOUTH AFRICA SOME BOYS LIVED NEAR A VERY SLOW MOVING REED INFESTED RIVER. HERE LARGE NUMBERS OF DUCKS CAME TO DWELL. THEY WANTED SO MUCH TO CATCH THESE DUCKS BUT COULD NEVER GET NEAR ENOUGH TO GRAB ONE. ONE DAY THE BOYS HATCHED A PLAN. THEY TOOK PUMPKINS AND HOLLOWED THEM OUT AND FLOATED SEVERAL DOWN THE RIVER IN AMONG THE DUCKS. AT FIRST THE DUCKS WERE FRIGHTENED AWAY, BUT EACH DAY THE BOYS DID THE SAME THING UNTIL THE DUCKS NO LONGER FELT ILL AT EASE WITH THESE PUMPKINS FLOATING BY THEM. THEY BECAME SO USED TO THEM THAT THE PUMPKINS WOULD ACTUALLY BUMP UP AGAINST THEM WITH NO REACTION ON THEIR PART. NOW THE BOYS HATCHED THE FINAL PART OF THEIR PLAN. AGAIN THEY TOOK THE HOLLOWED PUMPKINS AND PUT TWO HOLES IN EACH FOR EYES. THEY PUT A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM SO THAT THEY COULD PUT THEIR HEADS IN THEM. SLOWLY THEY WADED OUT INTO THE RIVER HOLDING THE PUMPKIN AND THEIR HEADS INSIDE JUST ABOVE THE WATER. THEY MOVED IN AMONG THE DUCKS AND ONE AFTER THE ANOTHER THEY GRABBED THEM BY THE FEET AND TOOK THOSE HOME AS TROPHIES. THE DUCKS HAD BEEN SEDUCED BY THE CONSTANT PRESENCE OF THESE ONCE FEARED OBJECTS, AND THEIR LACK OF FEAR NOW LED TO THEIR DEMISE. SIN PLAYS SUCH TRICKS ON US TOO. AND IT CAN CATCH US OFF GUARD TOO. -- Source Unknown
3. Even the littlest sins should bother us. It is more probable that the little sins will take us off course than the big sins.
ILLUS: A SHIP WAS WRECKED OFF THE IRISH COAST SOME YEAR AGO. THE CAPTAIN WAS A VERY CAREFUL MAN WITH A GREAT RECORD. THE WEATHER HAD BEEN PERFECT AND THERE WAS NO EXPLANATION HOW THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED. SO CONFUSING WAS THIS DISASTER THAT A DIVING TEAM WAS SENT TO FIND PART OF THE WRECK TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE. UNDER WATER THEY FINALLY DISCOVERED THE PROBLEM. THEY BROUGHT THE SHIP'S COMPASS TO THE SURFACE. UPON TAKING IT APART THEY NOTICED A VERY TINY PIECE OF STEEL INSIDE THE COMPASS, THE TIP OF A KNIFE BLADE. APPARENTLY BEFORE THE WRECK THE CAPTAIN HAD ASKED A HAND TO CLEAN THE COMPASS AND IN DOING SO THE SAILOR HAD PRIED THE COMPASS APART WITH HIS KNIFE BLADE. IN THE PROCESS HE SHEARED OFF A VERY TINY PART OF THE TIP WITHOUT REALIZING IT. THIS SMALL PIECE OF METAL IN THE COMPASS HAD THROWN IT OFF IN JUST A SMALL WAY, BUT ENOUGH TO GIVE THE WRONG SENSE OF DIRECTION TO THE VERY DILIGENT CAPTAIN. THE RESULT WAS DESTRUCTION. SUCH A TINY THING TOOK THEM OFF COURSE. SUCH IS SIN WHEN LEFT UNDEALT WITH! -- Source Unknown
4. Nothing in the text indicates that this young man had been a bad boy to this point. Every indication was that he had done his work, but he was becoming insensitive to sin.
a. This is now noticed in the boy's desires.
b. He wants to go out into the world and live it up ... NOW!
5. The father does not stop him. He gives the boy his third of the estate.
a. There are two boys; but Jewish custom gave the oldest boy a double portion of the inheritance. Why? The oldest would be responsible for the family and especially the elderly parents later, so he was given a larger share to cover these larger responsibilities.
b. This is the youngest, so he gets a third of the total. His brother gets two-thirds of the portion.
c. It is clear that this boy wants to leave no connection to his home life or parents, for "he gathers EVERYTHING" and leaves nothing behind.
d. His passion for sin separated him from his father and brother. It still does this today from our Heavenly Father and the family of God.
6. His passion for sin carries him far way, it always does! He went to a distant country.
a. With no thought of the future, he squanders all his wealth and inheritance on the pleasures of sin.
b. He was not allowed to eat the food that these unclean animals were allowed to have. He was starving to death.
c. While sin did not pain him, the consequences of sin were giving him great pain!
d. It is here that a new awakening will take place. God often allows pain to those who ignore sin in order to wake them up to sin's reality.
B. Identifying Sin 15:11-16
1. Notice this phrase: "when he came to his senses."
a. The consequences of sin now opened he eyes.
b. The true nature of sin in the end is revealed. It had taken everything from him, his family, his wealth, his dignity, his friends, his confidence, his health, his hope, his JOY.
2. He now begins to MOURN his condition ... the first right thing he has done in a while.
3. His heart starts looking toward home again, to his kind father. But you will notice that there is no hint here of arrogance about being taken back as a son again. He will become a slave if necessary. Notice the true nature of repentance here:
a. He clearly identifies the source of the problem, his own sinfulness. "I have sinned against heaven (God) and against my earthly father."
b. Notice the lack of excuses for his sin: he blames no one else, nor any circumstances.
c. He might have tried blaming the circumstances: after all, there had come an unexpected famine that hit the land, just about the time his money had run out. There was a real down turn in the economy as a result of the famine.
d. This is the formula for finding real joy and forgiveness.
4. There comes a point in time when we can no longer avoid sin issues in our life ... for they will find us out.
ILLUS: THE NEWSPAPERS IN CINCINNATI, OHIO, REPORTED THIS STORY: A POORLY DRESSED WOMAN HAD GONE TO A DR. GEORGE HERMAN ASKING HIM TO MAKE AN X-RAY EXAMINATION OF HER HEART FOR FREE SINCE SHE WAS SO POOR. SHE CLAIMED SHE WAS VERY POOR AND COULDN'T PAY. THE DOCTOR OUT OF COMPASSION AGREED TO DO IT FOR HER. HOWEVER, WHEN THE FILM WAS DEVELOPED HE REALIZED HE HADN'T PLACED THE MACHINE QUITE AS HIGH ON HER HEART AS HE SHOULD HAVE. INSTEAD HE HAD A PICTURE OF A HIDDEN POCKET BELOW HER HEART THAT REVEALED THE PRESENCE OF SEVERAL TWENTY DOLLAR GOLD PIECES! HE CAME IN TO THE ROOM WHERE THE WOMAN WAS WAITING AND SHE ASKED, "WELL, DOCTOR HOW IS MY HEART?" HIS REPLY WAS, "YOUR HEART IS VERY BAD, AND YOU LIED WHEN YOU SAID YOU WERE VERY POOR." THIS IS REAL HEART DISEASE!! AND IT WAS DISCOVERED!! -- Source Unknown
5. He was prepared to accept the consequences of his sin, his mourning over sin was real. This will now open the door for great joy.
C. Immediate Salvation 15:20-24
1. While still a long way from his father, his father is keeping watch, the dad no doubt had been mourning the whole time, and his mourning is about to be comforted now.
a. True repentance brings great joy to those who are broken by sin. Even those who are friends and family will find joy over repentance.
b. The father sees him long before he sees his dad. And it is the father that begins running toward the son. This was an unusual thing for an elderly man to do. He kisses his son and hugs him (the Greek verb here means "kissing him lots")
c. Joy has energy to it, especially after mourning.
2. Notice the father's response to his wayward but repenting boy:
a. He orders the "best" robe to be brought. The robe was a sign of position in a Jewish home; the "best" meant the boy was restored to a great position of honor again, the place of a son.
b. A ring is brought in next and placed on the boy's hand. This no doubt was a family signet ring, which represented the father's authority. What a statement is made by this!
c. Next, his barefooted son (which was the normal dress for a slave) has sandals brought to him, the dress of a son not a slave.
d. Finally, a feast with "the fatted calf" is ordered. This meant a special animal kept and treated well for only the most important occasions. It was never used for ordinary events. It was the best.
3. Celebration was the order of the day. Though this boy didn't deserve it, his genuine mourning over his sins and his acceptance of the consequences brought him grace ... and forgiveness … and great joy!
a. Imagine his heart in all this?
b. There is no indication that he tries to take advantage of this love, he is moved by it instead.
4. Mourning had turned to joy and comfort comfort.
II. MOURNING FOR SINNERS Matt. 23:37 Luke 15:25-32
A. Immense Sorrow Matt. 23:37
1. How does Jesus respond to the sin of others?
a. He is so broken over it.
b. He mourned over Jerusalem and the people's avoidance of the issues of sin. Jesus could not be satisfied with the salvation of his friends alone.
2. Jesus was broken over the many lost. He was mourning the grip of sin over lives. Do we?
3. It is not right to rejoice and be happy over our own blessings if we can't be broken over the lost.
4. What about our "JERUSALEM?"
ILLUS: ONE OF OUR SUPREME COURT JUSTICES LOST HIS WIFE. THE FUNERAL WAS HELD AT THE LITTLE CHURCH SHE HAD BEEN A MEMBER OF NEAR THEIR HILLTOP HOME. ONE NIGHT AS HE WAS STANDING OUTSIDE ON THEIR PATIO LOOKING DOWN INTO THE VALLEY, HE NOTICED THE LITTLE CHURCH WITH ITS LIGHTS ON. HE CALLED HIS CHAUFFEUR TO DRIVE HIM TO THE CHURCH. HE ARRIVED TO FIND A PRAYER MEETING GOING ON WITH ONLY 9 PEOPLE. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING THE PASTOR ASKED IF HE WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING. HE DID AND THIS IS WHAT HE SAID, "YOU KNOW ME, BUT YOU KNEW MY WIFE BETTER. NO ONE HAS ASKED ME PERSONALLY TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN ALL THIS TIME. I HAVE DECIDED TO WAIT NO LONGER. I AM HERE TO ASK YOU TO PRAY FOR ME." WHY HADN'T SOMEONE ASKED HIM ALL THOSE YEARS? THEY COULD PRAY, BUT THEY WERE NOT MOVING TO TAKE THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST. -- Source Unknown
5. We must never forget how horrible sin was in our own life, nor can we become dull to what it does still in the lives of those yet lost.
6. Sometimes we are more sensitive to the "lost" in heathen lands than we are than in the area around us. Let's not forget to "mourn" over those around us who are lost.
ILLUS: A WOMAN NAMED SOPHIE HAD BEEN PRAYING FOR 12 YEARS TO BECOME A FOREIGN MISSIONARY. ONE DAY IN PRAYER, THE LORD SPOKE CLEARLY TO HER HEART THIS MESSAGE: "SOPHIE, STOP! WHERE WERE YOU BORN?" SHE ANSWERED, "IN GERMANY." THE LORD CONTINUED, "WHERE ARE YOU NOW?" SHE ANSWERED, "IN AMERICA." THE LORD ADDED, "WELL, AREN'T YOU A FOREIGN MISSIONARY THEN?" BUT THE LORD CONTINUED, "WHO LIVES ON THE FLOOR ABOVE YOU?" SHE ANSWERED, "A FAMILY OF SWEDES." THE LORD CONTINUED, "WHO LIVES BEHIND YOU?" SHE ANSWERED, "SOME ITALIANS." THE LORD ADDED, "AND WHAT ABOUT THAT FAMILY JUST A BLOCK AWAY?" SHE ANSWERED, "THEY ARE CHINESE." THEN THE LORD ADDED A FINAL WORD, "SOPHIE, YOU HAVE NEVER SPOKEN TO THESE FOLKS, DO YOU THINK I WILL SEND YOU THOUSANDS OF MILES TO THE FOREIGNERS AND THE HEATHEN WHEN YOU NEVER CARE ENOUGH ABOUT THOSE AT YOUR OWN DOOR TO PREACH TO THEM ABOUT THEIR SOULS?" MOURNING FOR THE LOST SHOULD BEGIN WHERE WE ARE. -- Source Unknown
B. Intolerable Spirit! 15:25-30
1. Now we are introduced to the older brother's response to his forgiven returned prodigal brother.
a. It is not a pretty picture. He is angry over it.
b. He will not participate in the celebration. He is angry over this kind of attention for a wayward brother.
c. He has little thought about his brother, only his own feelings.
2. You can hardly blame him! After all, he had stayed and faithfully served his father. But notice how he described himself in verse 23, "Look! All these years I've been SLAVING for you."
a. He never thought of himself as being just a son, but like a slave.
b. He had served reluctantly and without joy ... only to get the big inheritance.
c. Was he really any different than his wayward brother had been?
3. He has no joy for the feelings of his father.
a. His dad was in great joy ... he didn't care about that, just his own hurt feelings.
b. Notice, however, that it was the dad that came to him just as he did his other son. He calls him to join in.
4. Notice how this older brother refers to his younger brother that had now returned, "But when this SON OF YOURS who has squandered..."
a. He can't even call him his "brother." He won't acknowledge his love for this boy.
b. His focus is wrong. He heart is just as evil!
c. This is unacceptable in God's family!
ILLUS: A MAN WENT TO PREACH IN ONE OF THE LEADING CHURCHES IN A GREAT CITY, A VERY PROMINENT CHURCH. AS HE BEGAN TO PREACH HE WAS AWARE OF AN UNUSUAL ANOINTING ON HIM AND THE MESSAGE. AS HE FINISHED, HE GAVE AN INVITATION FOR THOSE WHO WERE WILLING TO GIVE THEIR HEARTS TO CHRIST TO COME AND STAND AT THE ALTAR, SOMETHING NOT DONE IN THIS CHURCH. HE HAD ASKED NO PERMISSION FIRST, NOT EXPECTING AT FIRST TO DO THIS. IMMEDIATELY A STRONG ABLE BODIED MAN STOOD AND CAME WEEPING. ANOTHER 13 ADULTS JOINED HIM AT THE ALTAR. WHEN THE SERVICE ENDED, A WOMAN OF THE CHURCH GREETED HIM WITH THIS: "I GREATLY ENJOYED YOUR SERMON UNTIL THE END. I DON'T THINK THAT MAN SHOULD CHANGE THE SERVICE FOR THE SAKE OF HAVING A FEW PEOPLE COME STAND AT THE FRONT." SHE MISSED THE POINT. IRONICALLY, THAT NIGHT THE FIRST MAN THAT HAD COME FORWARD WAS KILLED IN A WRECK. A NEW BORN SAINT! -- Source Unknown
5. The oldest brother gripes that his father had never given him a "young goat" to celebrate with his friends. (A young goat was somewhat less that the "fatted calf," it was like saying, "you gave Johnny a new car, but all you bought me was a used one.")
6. This attitude was inexcusable. His statement about his brother having used all his money on "prostitutes" may have been an exaggeration also.
a. Anger causes us to see things that aren't there ... or
b. To exaggerate things that are there.
C. Inescapable Sensation 15:31-32
1. Notice the father's response to his arrogant older son, "MY SON."
a. He is still loving to this boy too when he too doesn't deserve it.
b. The father tries to remind this boy how he has everything already.
c. He had experienced no loss. What is his complaint?
2. The father loves them both ... equally!
3. And he is overjoyed at the end of mourning. A son who was as good as dead to him had returned repentant and restored. This was to be a time of joy.
4. Mourning had turned to comfort. How BLESSED THEY ALL WERE - or should be!
CONCLUSION: Where there is no sense of sin, there is no sense of salvation! Brokenness over sin is a necessary step to realizing the joy that comes in salvation. As Kingdom citizens, we are not only to be mourning our own sins, but those of this world too! Brokenness moves us to act ... to repent ourselves, and to win the lost. This is what brings in the "blessedness" or happiness! Have you experienced the "blessing" of mourning?