"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NASB)
Jesus continues to look at His disciples and pronounces blessing on the very things which we find cursed. Blessed are they that mourn. Now let’s remember the context here, because it is critical to understanding the beatitudes. Realize that Jesus’ disciples had been following Him as He preached repentance, and also healed this sick and lame. You have this giant crowd constantly around Jesus and all sorts of different things are happening. How could the disciples know what was going on? How could they have discernment? Were all the people following Christ merely looking to be healed, or were some of them actually getting the message? How could a disciple tell? How can we tell if someone believes the message and is not just enamored by the healing, fellowship , or whatever? Enter Matthew 5-7, the teaching on the mount. Jesus withdraws from the crowd, takes a seat, His disciples come and sit around Him, and He begins to teach them, and explain to them what is going on. It is as if He says... “You see all those people today? Well the ones who are mourning are the blessed ones!”
Look, Jesus was on a preaching mission, and a service mission, but He does not sit down His disciples and say blessed are those who were healed today, or blessed are those who are rejoicing, quite the opposite. Jesus saw straight past the emotion of the crowd, and the joy they expressed, and in the teaching on the mount, He is instructing His disciples to see past it as well. He says blessed are they who mourn... what reason was there for mourning while Christ was coming around healing and fixing people? Certainly healings are a thing of joy... the only reason to mourn was the message. Remember if you read starting in Matthew 4:17 you will see that Jesus was preaching everywhere that men are to repent! The message of repentance, the one that exposes our sin will cause us to mourn, but the mourning is the very evidence of our blessing. Christ explains to His disciples how to get an idea of who the real believers in the crowd are. Again, blessed are they who mourn.
Now clearly this passage has application to those believers who are in pain in general, or who are grieving, and our tendency is certainly to bring this passage out at a funeral, or other sad occasion, but I would certainly say to be careful merely throwing around the beatitudes or even the rest of the ‘teaching on the mount’ to the unbelieving world. Again context is everything.
The old quip rings true ‘A text without its context is a pretext.’