Sunday, May 3, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009 Easter IV John 16:16-22
A little, and no longer will you see Me, and again, a little, and you will see Me. Then His disciples said to each other, "What is this which He says to us? ‘A little, and you will not see Me, and again, a little, and you will see Me,' and that ‘I go up to the Father'?" Then they said, "What is this, ‘the little'? We do not know what He says." Jesus knew that they wanted to question Him, and He said to them, "Concerning this you seek out with each other, that I said ‘a little and you will not see Me, and again a little and you will see Me?' Amen, amen I say to you, you will weep and mourn yourselves, yet the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow, into joy will become! The woman whenever she labors she has sorrow, because her hour has come. But whenever she births the child, no longer does she remember the anguish, throught the joy that a human has been born into the world. And you, therefore, now on the one hand, sorrow you have; on the other hand, I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy, no one takes away from you!"
If you watch the most popular TV preachers, like Joel Osteen or Robert Schuller, you will notice that 99.44% of the time, they will seem happy. With perma-smiles pressed upon their faces, they give the impression that being a Christian means always being glad, and never being sad. Their preaching and teaching reflects, this, as though there is something wrong with, and something downright sinful with a Christian ever being down in the dumps. They seem to be saying that true believers are never sad.
But nothing could be further from the truth! Even the very best of Christians get melancholy sometimes. Those with a very strong and Christ-focused faith can get depressed. It is to be expected while we live in a world filled with disease, decay, and death. It is just plain natural for us human beings to have the real emotions of sorrow when evil occurs. It would be downright un-natural if we didn't feel badly when bad things happen. Sadness is simply a part of life for every faithful Christian.
Jesus affirms as much in His words to the disciples. He tells them that they are soon to be filled with sorrow. In a very short time in fact Jesus would be seized from them to suffer and be crucified. Then, for a brief period after His resurrection, Jesus would be leaving them to ascend back to His Father in heaven. And as is typical when someone close to you moves away, they would be sad to see Him go. But this sorrow at Jesus' departure is necessary. It is part of God's plan for the disciples.
Why does God want us to be sad? You would think, logically, that the Lord would want Christians to put on attractive smiles all of the time and be happy. But He doesn't, at least not this side of heaven. That's because, since Adam and Eve's fall into sin, sorrow and sadness has entered the picture. Adam was cursed to work hard all his days and then die. This death–the wages of sin–he has passed on to each one of us. And Eve was cursed too, with labor pains and the rulership of her husband over her.
But praise God that it doesn't end with the sorrow of these curses. Just as a woman must endure the anguish of labor and delivery, God quickly provides the blessing to her of a newborn baby boy or girl. The joy far outweighs the brief suffering she just endured, for she now has a child to love for years! She quickly forgets the pains she went through, and may even desire to go through them again and again, because of the much, much greater joy that results from the suffering, pain and anguish.
You see, suffering, sorrow, and sadness are not *bad* things. Oh, they may *feel* bad for a time, but through them, God is well known for producing much good! That's just what God did through the painful, sorrowful, suffering and death of His only-begotten Son Jesus. He came for the express purpose of feeling pain, to suffer the anguish of death, on a cross. It didn't feel good to Him, no doubt, but it was worth it to Jesus. He did it because through His suffering and death, you are saved!
Jesus went through the eternal sufferings of hell as He hung upon that cross, forsaken in death. Your sufferings pale in comparison to His. So consider then how much less your sufferings compare with the everlasting joys you have as a child of God! You are cleansed with the washing of salvation in Baptism. You are fed with the bread of life eternal in the Lord's Supper. You are proclaimed forgiven by Jesus' Own words of absolute forgiveness. You have nothing but joys in heaven forevermore.
So consider it all joy whenever you suffer. If you are sad, rejoice at the joys to come which will soon replace and far surpass all your sorrows. For Jesus, for the joy set before Him, has endured the cross, scorning its shame, and has ascended to the right hand of God, as your Savior and Advocate. Amen.
Hymns for today from LSB:
#795 Voices Raised to You we Offer
#483 With High Delight Let Us Unite!
#818 In Thee Is Gladness