Every Thought Captive

Mourning Our Sin

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.
(From a hymn for Lent by Claudia Frances Hernaman)

In the season of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, the church pays special attention to repentance of sin, fasting, and prayer, in anticipation of the coming joy of the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death. This encourages us to reflect more deeply on the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Scripture highlights the importance of mourning our sins when we approach God for forgiveness. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he rejoiced that they had the right kind of grief for their sins: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). When we grieve our sins and turn to the Lord, He blesses us with His forgiveness.

The Beatitudes ultimately describe Christ Himself – how could anyone be more blessed, more happy, than Christ? But what did Jesus mourn? As the verse from the hymn above suggests, Jesus mourned our sins. The sorrow for our sins was upon Him, so that we might have forgiveness. Our deepest woe is our sin, our separation from God. Jesus took that separation upon Himself, and cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” On the cross, Christ bore the burden of all the sins and griefs of His people. Lamentations 1:12 refers to Jesus: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of His fierce anger.”

At the Last Supper, on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus said to His disciples: “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20). Though the weeping and lamentation of the disciples that night was on account of their physical separation from Christ at His death, and though the first joy that came later was initially on account of His physical return, they soon came to see the deeper meaning of their Lord’s physical resurrection. Now they and all disciples enjoy reconciled fellowship with God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Christ’s sorrow leads to our joy! “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

Next week is Holy Week, the time of the year when as the Church we meditate most deeply on the suffering and death of Christ. George Herbert, the 17th-century English priest and poet, wrote an extended poem in the form of a lament spoken by Christ from the cross. He took as his starting point the verse from Lamentations cited above: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like My sorrow.” As we mourn our sins, and contemplate the suffering of Christ on their account, I encourage you to read the entire poem. Four stanzas are included below.

From “The Sacrifice”, from The Temple (1633) by George Herbert

Oh all ye, who pass by, whose eyes and mind
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blind;
To me, who took eyes that I might you find:
                                              Was ever grief like mine?

O all ye who pass by, behold and see;
Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree;
The tree of life to all, but only me:
                                              Was ever grief like mine?

Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sin,
The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
                                              Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow as, if sinful man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel.
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
                                              Was ever grief like mine?

About the Author

Photograph of Nathan Davy

Nathan Davy

Associate Director of Music and Organist

Nathan Davy is the Associate Director of Music and Organist at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He is married to Laura Davy, and they have five children. When not making music he enjoys running, reading, gardening, and playing chess.