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'Blessings to those who mourn'

글쓴이 : 관리자 날짜 : 2017-08-22 (화) 06:33 조회 : 261
Rev._Jang\'s_Sermon_on_August_20,__2017.docx (20.2K), Down : 0, 2017-09-11 20:06:23
설교일 : 2017.08.20.
설교자 : Rev. Jang
본문말씀 : Matthew 5:1-12

August 20, 2017


‘Blessings to those who mourn’

Matthew 5:1-12


Rev. Chan Young Jang’s Sermon at the KUMC of Metro Detroit



Recently I had a chance to listen to a radio program in which a psychiatrist from John Hopkins Medical School talked about the stress people in U.S. are suffering. He said that over 70% of the population are worried about the possibility of an attack from North Korea, and because of today’s complicated society and mass media, people are constantly inundated with all the detailed news in politics, military, economy, culture and sports, etc. Consequently, they are stressed over some news that have nothing to do with them. He advised that we should all make an effort to live our lives simply and positively, with lots of laughs. We agree to his observation.


Lately we run into many books dealing with the humor or simple way of thinking at the bookstores in U.S. and Korea. I heard that in Korea there was even a ‘Sense of Humor Seminar for the pastors’. We know that people in today’s world do not care for any heavy topics, tears, or sorrows, and it is the same with the church congregation as well. They do not want the sermons to be too heavy, and prefer the sermons to be light, concise, informative and humorous.


But, Lord Jesus says in today’s passage that ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’. The first message of the Beatitudes, ‘Blesses are the poor in spirit’ is a paradox and today’s passage is one of the most paradoxical messages of all times.


I remember that about 30 to 40 years ago in Korea, the churches were the communities of heart-broken people who were still suffering from the aftermath of the Korean War. It has not been that long that Korea has become self-sufficient after surviving the eras of hunger, poverty, tears and mourning, so compared to the westerners, we are more familiar with those who mourn, whom Lord Jesus is talking about.


I remember seeing people mourning in the church quite often, as the churches were the only places where they could come and cry freely. They had so many reasons to cry and also to repent their sins and to vent their grudges. Every early morning services and all night prayer sessions were so full of tears that even the floor was getting wet.


Certainly, crying and mourning are not the only essential parts of being a Christian. Being joyful, thankful and festive are also important parts of Christianity. But the fact remains that a church with tearful congregation is more receptive to the grace than a church with dry-eyed congregation. Also, we cannot deny that a church with poor congregation is more sympathetic to the heart of Jesus than a church with wealthy congregation. Therefore, we have to pay close attention to Lord Jesus’ message that ‘Blessed are those who mourn’.




There are about 9 different words describing the grief and sorrows in the Bible and the word that Lord Jesus uses in today’s passage is ‘pentheo’. This word is not used for the usual sorrows and weeping, but only for the mourning of a beloved family member’s death.


This word was used to describe the agony of Jacob to mourn for his favorite son Joseph for many days in chapter 37 of Genesis. Jacob was told falsely that Joseph must have been killed by wild animals, while in reality his brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. Immediately Jacob tore his clothes, put on a sackcloth, refused to eat and wept for many days in mourning for his beloved son.


Such a strong grief as mourning a beloved family member’s death is hard to bear for us every day. We cannot go on weeping and crying all the time. There must have been another meaning to Lord Jesus’ message, and we want to find it.


Why did Jesus use the word ‘pentheo’, the strongest description for grief, here? We have found out that ‘pentheo’ is derived from the word ‘pethah’ which has the meaning of mourning and grieving, and also of ‘the Passover’.


Now we know that ‘pentheo’ (mourning) is connected to the Passover which celebrates the deliverance of the Israelites from 430 years of slavery in Egypt after the 10thplague. At that time those homes with the blood of lamb on the top and sides of their doorframe were passed over and saved.


Exodus 12:21b-23  “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”


Thus, on this day all the firstborns of Egypt were stricken down and killed, and it was the most sorrowful day of extreme ‘pentheo’. On the same night the Israelites also experienced the fear of death and the salvation afterwards.


While the destroyer sent by the LORD was going through the land, the Israelites depended only on the blood of lamb to save their lives and to experience the Passover.


The blood of lamb the Israelites put on the top and sides of their doorframe was the same blood that Jesus Christ shed to save us as the ‘Passover lamb’.


Matthew 26:2  “As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”


On the night of the first Passover, the Israelites felt completely fearful and powerless while the Egyptians were mourning the death of their firstborns. They knew they had to depend on the LORD entirely and experienced the self-denial and mourned the death of self.


What is the most difficult thing to do in your life of faith? Is it the prayers? Is it the fasting, evangelizing, dedicated services or obedience? I think the self-denial and death of self are the hardest thing to do. And without the self-denial and death of self, any prayers, fasting, evangelizing, dedicated services or obedience are only to satisfy one’s own wishes or desires. Reflecting upon my ministry, I feel the self-denial is the most difficult. We cannot see our true self until the Holy Spirit comes upon us, which has been sent by the Creator God.


With the help of the Holy Spirit, we see and realize what we are and then are able to comprehend what Paul said about himself.  


Romans 7:24  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”


Paul was in despair and grief over his own wretchedness. Have you ever been utterly disappointed in yourself? Now, you will be blessed. In Christianity, you cannot work to develop yourself nor work to make yourself complete. You can experience the resurrection through the self-denial and death of self, and it is only possible by the blood of the ‘Passover lamb’.




Let us go back to today’s passage and meditate on it more. What does it mean to be so grief-stricken (pentheo) as to experience the self-denial and death of self?


It means that we are completely disappointed at ourselves and mourning the death of self before God.  


I often think today’s churches are too immersed in the ‘self-fulfillment’ and ‘self-satisfaction’ of the members. There are many members who think that attending the worship service, working for church’s various ministries, and having a good relationship among themselves should be good enough for their life of faith. In reality, they are right, only partially. Unless we continue to mourn the death of self before God, all the work we do for church is for the ‘self-fulfillment’ and ‘self-satisfaction’ and not for our faith.


A lot of Christians mistakenly think that Lord Jesus is talking about the tears we shed for ourselves in our life of hardships in today’s passage. Certainly we have enough hardships in our lives, such as the separation from our loved ones, long term illnesses, suffering from poverty, or being heart-broken or emotionally hurt, but Lord Jesus wants us to go further.


He wants us to go before God who knows all about our sorrows and pain as our Creator. Let us pay attention to the confession of David, a man of God.


Psalm 51:17  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”


David knew that he had to bring his ‘broken and contrite heart’ before God. The background of this Psalm 51 is that David wrote this when the prophet Nathan came to rebuke him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.


In chapter 12 of ‘2 Samuel’, David pleaded with God for his child’s life and refused to eat. He must have grieved a lot (pentheo). Then God took the child, and David behavior after hearing that the child was dead was not what his people had expected.


2 Samuel 19b-20  David realized that the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.


How was this possible? It looks like he was too cold-hearted. In reality, he had fasted and wept for the child, but when the LORD took the child, he no longer grieved for the child, and went before God and worshiped Him. His ‘pentheo’ of mourning his child was turned into ‘pethah’ when he was in front of the Creator God.


There is a woman who described this scene as ‘God wept’, not as ‘David wept’. Her name is Joni Eareckson Tada, born in 1949, and she does not have the use of her limbs because of a diving accident which happened when she was 17 years old. She has been paralyzed below her neck ever since. We can imagine how hard her life must have been, but she is an accomplished painter as well as the author of many Christian books. When she was reading the Psalms, she noticed more of ‘the tears of God’ who loves David than ‘the tears of David’.


She also felt God’s grief, pain and tears for her and was restored to the joy of salvation. Then, she wrote a book, ‘When God Weeps’, to share the tears of God with others who mourn.


Jurgen Moltmann, a German theologian, wrote a book also with the same theme, and the title of his book is ‘God is crucified on the Cross’.




My beloved congregation, who are the blessed? The blessed are those who see the heart and tears of God for them beyond their own sorrows, and then begin to see the world with the heart and tears of God.


I want to share the life story of Rev. Reuben Archer Torry III whose Korean name was 대천덕 and who served as a priest for the Anglican Church and founded the ‘Jesus Abbey’ in Kang-Won Do in Korea. He was also the grandson of Rev. Reuben Archer Torry who had served as the first dean of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. During his lifetime while serving the Jesus Abbey, Rev. Torry III was known to wear a black hemp cloth on his chest as a symbol of mourning for those who has died without knowing Jesus and for those who die because of poverty and hunger after the war, and also a symbol for his denial of self and his repentance on behalf of the churches and Christians in Korea.


About those who mourn; they are in despair because of their sins, and they cry and repent their sins before God. And they are also grieved to see the rampant sins of the world. They listen to the moans and groans of the people in the world, and having the heart of God, they offer their help to the poor, the captives and the prisoners.


Later in his life, David wrote the following verse.


Psalm 119:136  “Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.”


He is saying that now he understands the tears of God against those do not obey God’s law and for those who suffer from the oppression of the lawless.


In spite of all, Lord Jesus says that those who mourn will be comforted (‘parakleo’ in Greek) by the Counselor (‘parakletos’ in Greek). He means that the Holy Spirit will touch them.


God will comfort those who have the heart and tears of God and feel the grief of God. After experiencing the blood of the Passover lamb and going through the self-denial and the death of self, these children of God will be blessed and touched by the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Now, let us listen to this hymn first and then sing it together as the closing hymn; ‘How hurt God’s heart must have been’






[이 게시물은 관리자님에 의해 2017-09-11 20:05:46 읽는말씀(English&Korean)에서 이동 됨]


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제목 : The Clumsy Love
설교일 : 2018.06.17
본문말씀 : 1 John 4:7-12
설교자 : Rev. Kyung Lim Shin



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