“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
We tend to have little affinity for suffering. We wish to avoid it at all costs, wishing to stay within the safe sanctuary of our own contentment. And that is problematic. A life of contentment without suffering will almost certainly be a shallow life.
Suffering, when we allow it to do its work, broadens our capacity for compassion. “Compassion” comes from a Latin word that means “shared suffering.” If you’ve never had suffering it’s hard to share it with someone else. You don’t relate. You don’t understand.
So instead of weeping with those who weep, we want to cheer them up. Not for their sake, but for our sake. Their grief, their sorrow, their pain, their suffering makes us uncomfortable. And so we come alongside them to cheer them up, not for their sake, but because, “Come on, man. You’re bumming me out here. You’re spoiling the mood. I’m uncomfortable. I’m not used to being around people who are acting like this. Get happy for me, will you please?”
And yet, that’s not what the Scriptures teach us to do. Paul says in Romans, “Weep with those who weep.” “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” We want to rejoice with those who rejoice, and rejoice with those who weep.
(NOTE: This post is part of a blog series on the Beatitudes. For the first post in this series, click here.)
Jesus takes a seat on a small boulder. The Twelve are gathered in front of him with a large crowd assembled at the base of the mountain. Talking about the multitude, Jesus begins to speak to his disciples saying:
“Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
For two centuries, there had been a growing, building anticipation about the reign of God breaking in among mankind. John the Baptist said, “It’s almost here.” Then Jesus arrives and announces that this kingdom is “at hand” and “in your midst.”
(Note: I am planning to start a short blog series on each of the Beatitudes beginning next week.)
Great crowds were being attracted to Jesus. Largely because of the miracles that were beginning to swirl around all that he was doing. And the crowds were not just Jewish. They were a mixed multitude of Jews and non-Jews gathering to Jesus. All kinds of people. The whole gamut. The whole spectrum of humanity was being attracted to Jesus.
When Jesus saw that his ministry was growing and this huge crowd was assembling, he departed from the shores of Galilee, and he began to climb a mountain. When he found a suitable place he sat down to signify that he was beginning to teach. And his twelve disciples whom he had chosen formed the inner ring.