/ Nathan Eshelman

Gospel Mourning

Jesus said, "Blessed are those that mourn." It is in this gospel mourning God comes to his people. The Spirit gives comfort as we mourn for sin and the effects of sin on a hurting world. We look to the Christ which came down in search of all those who would mourn by faith.

Gospel mourning leads the mournful to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. What can we say about the Lord Jesus Christ in relationship to this? What does Jesus have to do with this mourning?

When we think of the Christ of gospel mourning, we begin with asking how the Scriptures describe Jesus. What are the most prominent descriptors that we find in the Scripture to help us to know the character and personality of our savior?

One of the most substantial descriptions that we find of Jesus in the whole of the Scriptures is Isaiah 53. In The prophet provides a description of the Lord Jesus Christ—and we see something of his mourning in verse 3:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Jesus Christ is described as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. The burden of Christ’s humiliation and taking on flesh for the sake of sinners was a heavy burden for our savior to carry.

As Jesus looked into a world tainted by sin and misery, it was a grief to him; a sorrow to know that which was created very good and those created in the image of God had rebelled. It is not unreasonable, but necessary, to say that life in this world grieved Jesus because of the great contrast of the holiness of Glory compared to the sinfulness of sin.

Did Jesus Christ know mourning?


For he was the man of sorrows acquainted with grief. Does this mean that he never smiled or laughed or enjoyed life?

No it doesn’t.

But if you would ask those closest to him what he was like while living on this earth—I imagine that, in part, they would share the words of the prophet: he was a man of sorrows bearing the sins of the world.

See also Jesus Christ in tears over the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus was not surprised by that death nor confused by it, yet Jesus was lamenting the death of a loved one. It was a deep mourning—a mourning that reflected blessedness. BB Warfield in his “The Emotional Life of Our Savior” writes,

““Jesus wept,” but the emotion which tore his breast and clamored for utterance was just rage… The term which John employs to describe it is.. an external term. 'He raged.' But John modifies its external sense by annexed qualifications: He raged in spirit; raging in himself. He thus interiorizes the term and gives us to understand that the boiling of Jesus’ anger expended itself within him.”

Why was Jesus angry in his weeping?

Sin has affected this world. Sin has altered that which God had made perfect and holy and good—and the Lord Jesus Christ came to take on that sin—to suffer—to mourn for the elect out of love for sinners.

Maybe this week you know something of that rageful gospel mourning? Maybe you know something of anger for sin within a world that was made good, and yet lives in ever-rebellion? Maybe you know gospel mourning?

Jesus also has gospel mourning as he laments over the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how would I have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chicks.”

Friends, the Lord Jesus Christ loves sinners—and he mourned for the city filled with those who were set apart in covenant love, yet were in rebellion. The Christ of gospel mourning wept for sinners and he wept for the lost and he wept for all  those who would know something of their mourning. Gospel mourning ought to cause us to turn to him by faith.

The Christ of  gospel mourning is also the Jesus who mourned for your just punishment: “Father, if there be another way take this cup from me.” This cup of wrath was poured out on a Christ who mourned over the content of the cup.

“Father is there another way?”

The cup of blessing which we bless is the full cup of God’s wrath—poured out onto his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

By faith you are called into this gospel mourning. We ought to mourn a world that is not right. We ought to mourn the rebellion of sin. We ought to mourn the turning away from God's covenant promises. We ought to mourn the effects of sin--even the death of the Gospel Mourner, Jesus Christ.

And as we become practioners of gospel mourning--we look ahead. We look ahead to that day when gospel mourning will turn to joy. We look ahead to that day when we will hear the loud voice:

"...Saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)

Gospel mourning will turn to eternal gospel joy. Gospel morning is blessed: for we shall be comforted. Joy will come.

But that time is not now.

Now we mourn.

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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