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Blessed: Those Who Mourn
Matthew 5:1–12 (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:4 (Message)
1. The pursuit of happiness and blessing
The whole message of the gospel is this: become like Jesus. We have his self-portrait, when we keep that in front of our eyes, we will soon learn what is means to follow Jesus and become like him. --Henri J. M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 (NIV)
are those who mourn
Society often tends to make those of us in grief feel shame and embarrassment about our feelings of grief…. Sorrow is an inseparable dimension of our human experience. We suffer after a loss because we are human. And in our suffering, we are transformed. Alan D. Wolfelt, Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart
Those we love When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid [Lazarus]?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:33–35 (NIV)
The sin of the world As [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. Luke 19:41 (NIV)
Our own sin Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72 (NIV)
for they will be comforted
By one another… by God
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also
you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3–7 (NIV)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
Small Group Questions
CONNECT WITH GOD (select one of the below practices to begin your small group time this week)
Attending to God through Art (5-10 minutes)
Alone: Using the artwork highlighted on Sunday, January 29th, found here, spend 5-10 minutes reflecting and journaling on what you see in the painting.
Pray that God will quiet the many distractions within you and beyond you in order to focus on the gift of this artwork before you.
As you focus in on the painting, you might journal your reflections to the following questions:
-Where am I emotionally and spiritually right now?
-Where does God meet me in this painting?
-What new perspectives is God shaping within me as I reflect on this painting?
Listening to God through Lectio Divina (10-15 minutes)
Alone: In a posture of stillness and openness, come to God with the intention to listen to God’s voice through the reading of Matthew 5:1-12, paying special attention to Matthew 5:4. Be prepared to read the passage 3 times. As a new way of practicing Lectio Divina, choose three different Bible translations and read each translation once.
Begin with the NIV version of Matthew 5:1-12
For your second reading, choose the Message version
For your third and final reading, choose the NRSV version
Follow the previous week’s guide on Lectio Divina: Prepare, Read and Listen, Meditate, Pray.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
- Together: Read Matthew 5:1-12 in the Bible translation of your group’s choice, focusing in on verse 4.
- After you have read, reflect with a partner on the passage, sharing your personal reflections from the passage. Consider the following questions:
- Share a moment of loss or grief in your life. Did you feel alone? Were you aware of God’s presence? Did another person come alongside you during that time?
- What images, memories, or questions are stirred in you as you read verse 4?
- Discuss together as a whole group.
CONNECT WITH SCRIPTURE (Read the passages and review the sermon outline. Then select the best questions or customize the questions for your group.)
- Read the main points from the sermon outline.
- What questions, observations, or reactions do you have after reflecting on the passage and sermon?
- Connect Matthew 5:4 with an example of Jesus’ own grief and mourning in the New Testament (John 11:33-36, Luke 19:4).
- Why can it be so challenging to think of God’s blessing when we experience loss and hardship?
- Name ways that Jesus turned towards suffering and was present in it.
- Reflect together on scripture passages about God’s comfort: Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. What stands out to you?
- What new perspective has taken shape as you reflect on the scripture, the message, and your time in small group this week?
CONNECT WITH GOD’S MISSION IN THE WORLD (Select one prompt/question for discussion.)
- In what ways can we reflect the comfort of God’s kingdom in the world?
- What does Matthew 5:1-12—and specifically Matthew 5:4 this week—teach us about God’s priorities in the world?
PRAYER (in pairs or smaller groups)
Share where you feel at the end of your rope or where you might be grieving a loss in your life. Pray specifically for one another, asking God’s blessing of presence and comfort to be abundant in our specific circumstances.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
The Message, Matthew 5:4