Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: All
From: Su Min
Subject: Mourning

The first time the word "beloved" occurs in the New Testament in Matt 3:17, where God declares, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Beloved is an old fashioned word fished out of 17th Century Olde English that the KJV used, the Greek word, Strong's Concordance #27, agapetos, dearly well beloved, from, agapao, to love in a social, moral sense.

A precious "Beloved" is found in Song of Songs 6:3 "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine". The sensuousness of this Mid Eastern love song is enthralling. The Hebrew word here (Strong's Concordance #1730) is dowd (pronounced dode) from an unused root word probably to boil, figuratively to love. Not just finger licking good liking, but bubbling and boiling within with seething passion, steam coming out of the ears! That is the degree of love God has planned to bind man and woman together as husband and wife!

Beloved and Dearly Beloved is a salutation we can find sprinkled through the epistles: e.g. Rom 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved, agapetos of God, called to be saints... : 2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises dearly beloved, agapetos, let us cleanse ourselves...: Jude 17: Beloved, agapetos, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Agapetos. I like the ring of the word...

Another Old English word we have to grapple with, my agapetos, as we look at the beatitudes, is the word "Blessed". Bless and blessing have slipped out of our every day conversation. "Bless my soul", "Bless your heart" "Bless you" may be uttered reflexly by some people occasionally, particularly on Sunday, but generally we are not so blessing oriented.

In the OT, "Blessed" may be used either in reference to God when it has a sense of praise or used in reference to man where it denotes a sense of happiness. The Hebrew word used is "barak" (pronounced baw-rak) Strong's Concordance #1288, a primitive root "to kneel" by implication to bless God as an act of adoration, kneel down, praise, salute, thank: and vice versa man as a benefit.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Ps 103:1). And with that blessing borrowed from the Psalms we bow down and adore the Lord God Almighty.

"Blessed" is the Olde English word selected for the KJV to translate the Greek word "makarios" Strong's Concordance #3107, a prolonged form of the poetical "makar" meaning supremely blessed, fortunate, well off, happy. In the NT it has a strong spiritual connotation, and also a congratulatory element.

The book of the revelation of Jesus Christ after declaring what it is in the first two verses, starts with a blessing: Blessed, makarios, is the one who reads the words of this prophecy and blessed, makarios, are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

With that introduction, we look at the second beatitude:

The Amplified has this verse as: Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God's favour and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted [Isa 61:2]

(... and looking at the referred text: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound [Rom 10:15])

At first sight it appears paradoxical, to pronounce blessed a person who mourns. In earthly terms it is those who celebrate who are blessed: it would seem that those who mourn are cursed: it is painful to grieve alone. But Jesus has come to shake up our complacency. Jesus has come to give us an eternal perspective of things, people and relationships. We are called to repent and turn from things temporal. We are called to readily discard worldly things and search for things eternal. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Blessed are they that mourn, when taken at a superficial level, could refer those who mourn for the death of their loved ones. Is there a greater mourning than the earthly mind knows? Perhaps the mourning for a love lost, in the case of a love lorn love spurned youngster. And indeed as Jesus has been appointed to bind up and heal the broken hearted (Isaiah 61:1), these mourners are blessed, for they have been promised comfort from the Comforter, not only comfort, but healing and restoration.

Jesus promises: If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:15-16). The Greek word used in this text for comforter is Strong's Concordance #3875 parakletos: it gives us a valuable insight to the nature of the Holy Spirit: parakletos: intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter, one who would walk along side us. With the promise of the Holy Spirit to come and comfort us, truly we are fortunate and well off as children of God when we mourn, for when we mourn, we will be comforted. Thus saith the word of the Lord.

Indeed the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, comes alongside us, within us and helps us in our weakness. Mourning in our bereavement we do not even know what to pray. But the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Rom 8:26).

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. We mourn for our loved ones when they die: yet we know that if they die in Christ, they have already gained eternal life and will have a place prepared and designated for them in heaven. Jesus says "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am (John 14:2-3)."

Is there a deeper plane to this beatitude? Is there something more spiritual that Jesus is also referring to when teaching this profound truth? As I look at Jesus collecting his intimate apostles about him to teach them on the mountainside, with the large multitude surrounding him, I see Jesus teaching simple truths to the crowds, and deeper truths to the apostles of his who are to be given authority to drive out evil spirits and cure every kind of disease and illness (Matt 10:1), encouraging them to lose their lives for His sake (Matt 10:39).

Does Jesus embrace you as an intimate disciple? I believe he does. The key to the deeper spiritual truth I believe, is to link the first beatitude with the second. The first says Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The second says Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Could the mourning not be related to the poverty of spirit? Just as you need to repent of your proudness of heart and so called spiritual richness, when you recognise your spiritual poverty you are a step closer to heaven, and when you mourn your spiritual poverty, you will be comforted, and your spiritual poverty will be replaced with a richness that remains congruent with the holiness and sanctity of a life dedicated to God.

Let us close in prayer.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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