Easter 4—Jubilate 2017 (Jn 16:16–23)

May 7, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!



That’s our joyful shout, as we sang in the Introit. That’s the glory of our God’s name. “He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of men”: He rose from the dead! That’s our hope in the face of death, our peace in the midst of struggle, our joy in the midst of tragedy, and it can even be our happiness in the midst of our sadness.

The sorrow and sadness that Jesus overcomes with His resurrection isn’t just the sorrow His disciples had when they saw Him die. No, it’s your sorrow, too. When all other enjoyments and happinesses fail, there’s Jesus. When life takes a turn for the worse, there’s Jesus. When life ends, there’s Jesus. He is faithful and true to you, dear Christian. Come what may! There’s Jesus. The living Jesus. The One who died, rose, and will never die again.

“Let songs of holy joy outburst” for that. Because no matter what


((I. The world peddles something else.))

The world has something to say about that. It started with Jesus. “You won’t see me, and the world will rejoice,” Jesus said. They’d kill Him. No joy for the disciples there, but He rose from the dead. “I will see you again,” He said, “you will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” No one could. They tried. Beatings didn’t work. Stoneings didn’t. Beheadings didn’t. They saw Jesus alive, and no amount death-threats and murders would take their joy away. A death threat would be meaningless to someone who’s dead Teacher, really God Himself, came back to life after being put to death.

Anyway, the world still tries this. Persecute the faith away. But beheadings, bombings, threats, even lawsuits don’t work. Jesus is alive. He was dead, then not—whatever worldly threats are peddled don’t hold any water.

But the world’s got another tactic. It doesn’t just threaten. The world also peddles its own joy, its happiness, and our flesh is drawn to it, of course.

The world peddles all sorts of happinesses and enjoyments. We so often strive after all these sorts of things. Things we need, we want, we can’t live without! Things that offer temporary happiness. So we start stringing them all together. One after the other. We try and pile up all sorts of things. From vacations, to stuff. We all want to be happy, but most of the time we’re not. We’re burned out. Stressed. We put on a front that everything’s put together.

But it’s not. If it were, then why are self-help books so popular? Why don’t we slow down? Why do motivational speakers pack arenas? Why do people want Christian preachers to speak that sort of message?

The world’s happiness is a mirage. And even if you got everything you wanted in this life, even if your bank account was full, your family life was great, you got the best job, you make scholarship, or whatever it is for you. Whatever fits at the end of this sentence, “My life would be perfect if I could just…” Even if you had the entire world, what would it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit your soul?

Now, worldly things (money, family, house, home, job) are good gifts from your heavenly Father. But we desire the gift more than the Giver. We enjoy the gift more than the Giver. We might give a nod to the Giver, maybe. But all the gifts come up empty at the grave.

((II. Jesus’ joy is everlasting.))

Jesus’ joy is different. It’s lasting. It can withstand the world’s persecution. Jesus being alive right now after He was dead means the world putting us to death is meaningless. So what? If Jesus lives, you’ll live too. You’ll live again whether that’s after dying from old age, from sickness, or from persecution. “Christ is risen, Christ is living, Dry your tears be unafraid! Death and darkness could not hold Him, Nor the tomb in which He lay.”

Jesus’ joy withstands loss and sorrow. If Jesus didn’t rise, then why not eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die? But since He is alive, what does it matter what we face in this life? A mess, a loss, a sin, a fear, a doubt—no matter what it is: Jesus is alive. Jesus’ tomb was empty, and all those graves will be empty someday, too. Yours will be. Mine will be. Stuff may get you down in this life, but it can’t get you down forever. Jesus is alive.

Jesus’ joy is face-to-face joy. Now, we all know we like worldly enjoyment too much. “If I could just get myself into this situation, I’d be happy,” we think. But I’m sure there’s something else we all want. We all want to be closer to Jesus, or for Him to be closer to us, maybe. We want a deeper understanding. A stronger faith.

Jesus tells us how. Today, Jesus says two things: “You will see me. I will see you.” Jesus gives face-to-face encounters where you can hear Him with your ears, see with your eyes, even taste! Whenever His Word is read not just in the service, but even whenever its studied (and it should be), there’s Jesus. His voice ringing in your ears. Whenever He comes with His body and blood for us to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins, there He is. The only time you’ll be closer to Him besides the Supper is when you see Him face to face on the Last Day forever. To say, “Yeah, but…” no matter the reason—even if it sounds pious! To say that is to keep Him at arms length, to keep from receiving the joy and peace He’s so freely and continually giving through His presence in His Word and Gifts.

THE LIVING JESUS IS OUR TRUE JOY. The world peddles all sorts of things. Our flesh cries out after these things, too. Who will deliver us from this body of death? Jesus. He does. He already has. No matter what happens. There’s Jesus. The Living Jesus. He comes to speak to you in His Word. He comes to unite Himself to you in His body and blood.

All the world’s pleasures, joys, and happinesses fade: moth and rust destroy. Death ruins. But one day, you’ll see Jesus. You’ll see Him and then you’ll know without a shadow of doubt that your trust in Him isn’t misplaced, that what you believe is true. Face to face you’ll see Him. Until then He really speaks through the Word. He really comes to you with His body and blood until the day when faith gives way to sight. Then true joy forever: seeing the living Jesus forever.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!



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