[Jesus said,] “Your sorrow will become joy.”
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
((5. Oops!: The world is full of sorrow.))
The world is full of sorrow. There’s many responses to the sorrow, actually. Just like there’s many stages of grief. There can be tears. There can anger. There can be violence. News has been full of that lately. The sorrow, sadness, stress, and isolation of the past year reaching a boiling point.
There’s many different ways to deal with the sorrow in the world. You deal with it by dealing with what’s causing it, or maybe you deal with it by accepting it. So, on the one hand you get activism—doing much to fix it. On the other hand you get quietism—standing on the sidelines in quiet acceptance.
Or maybe it’s dealt with medically. Sometimes there’s a physical, mental sorrow that comes from within, that can’t be dealt with any other way. Prescribed medicines help in such situations. There’s also many different ways to cope with it, too. These are the darker ways. Self medication: prescribed or not…
The world is full of sorrow, and full of ways to cope with it, deal with.
((4. Ugh! Our lives have sorrow, too!))
But there’s sorrow among Christians, too. We aren’t immune to the sorrows, to the tribulations, the struggles, the grief of everyday life. We aren’t exempt from any of these things. (To believe Christians are, and then to be bombarded with them, leads to darkness, doubt, ”despair, and other great shame and vice.”)
We experience the sorrow of sin. Not just our personal inadequacies of how we’ve treated the people in our lives. No, our sins, how we’ve failed them. (You failed God in the process.) We also experience the sorrow of other people’s sins against us. The battle scars, the wrongs, the grudges, the feuds.
We experience the sorrow of sickness, death, and tragedy. Grief is an ever-present reality. The grave possibly an ever-present worry.
There’s the day to day grind that wears us down, too. Wears everyone down. We have so many ways we try to escape it, cover it up, forget about it, if only for a little while.
There’s the sorrow of what will become of us as Christians. Some of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering violent and constant persecution around the world. How long till that comes to roost for us? Will we endure?
That was a sorrow the Apostles also experienced. Paul, inspired by the Spirit, writes in 2 Corinthians, “I don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, about our suffering that happened in Asia, because we were super-abundantly burdened beyond strength so that we despaired even of life itself. However, we received the sentence of death within us, so that we would not rely on ourselves, but upon God who raises the dead.”
This then gets us to the sorrow Jesus is first talking about today in John 16. The Apostles, not Paul, of course, had sorrow when Jesus suffered and died, but that sorrow was ended, killed when Jesus rose from the dead. And while they might suffer as Apostles, no one could take their true joy from them: Jesus was alive. (The comfort even Paul had and was driven to in the suffering he endured in Asia.)
((3. Aha!: Jesus promises: Your sorrow will turn into joy.))
But it’s not just the Apostles who suffered and experienced sorrow. It’s not just you and me. Jesus, too! “He suffered.” That’s what we confess in the Creed. Or as Isaiah puts it, “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
But it’s not just Isaiah 53 that describes Christ’s sorrow and suffering, His saving you. It’s echoed in Lamentations, too. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.”
Christ was truly χορτασθήσεται ὀνειδισμῶν. (LXX) Betrayed. Mocked. Struck. Suffered. Crucified. Forsaken by all, even His Father: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Died. Buried. But “The Lord will not cast off forever.” He raised His Son from the dead.
This Jesus, the Man of sorrows, the God of Grief, promises: ἡ λύπη ὑμῶν εἰς χαρὰν γενήσεται. He says this as the one who suffered for you and for your sins, and He says this as the one who was raised from the dead. He can clearly keep this promise. His cross and empty tomb say so. At the sight of Christ on the cross, at the sight of His empty three days later, its this promise put into action: ἡ λύπη ὑμῶν είς χαρὰν γενήσεται. Not just for Him. His cross and empty tomb are His promise to you that τὴν λύπην ὑμῶν εἰς χαρὴν γενεθῆναι, too.
((2. Whee!: That mean’s there is eternal joy coming.))
Jesus’ promise means that there’s eternal joy coming. καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφ᾿ ὑμῶν. And this isn’t just for His Apostles. And this doesn’t just mean that He will see us, but we shall see Him! “We are God’s children now, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
On that day, no one will be able to take our joy from us. For on that day, that last and final and eternal day, “there shall be nor more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things will have passed away.” On that day, “the LORD will remove the covering that is over all men. He will swallow up death forever.” And “the Lord will wipe away every tear from your eye.”
((1. Yeah!: EVERY DAY IS A DAY THAT JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.))
But that’s not all the Lord does for you. It’s not just that you’ve got this eternal carrot waiting for you while you endure the stick every day. It’s not like you’ve got to suffer now, as some sort of preparation or payment for the future glory. It’s not that Jesus is saying, “I know that you’re stuck now, and there’s nothing you can do about it, but don’t worry, heaven away.” Though it may seem like that sometimes. But it is also true that “this light momentary affliction is storing up for us an eternal weight of glory that shall not pass away,” as Paul says.
The Lord is merciful and gracious not only on the Last Day, but that’s how He is every day. “His mercies are new every morning.” And this is exactly what Jesus is talking about with His disciples, too. They can have joy everyday until they reach the eternal day, joy in the midst of suffering even, because of Jesus’ empty tomb. Because the fact of the matter is this:
EVERY DAY IS A DAY THAT JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
Every day you go through the grind, is a day Jesus is risen from the dead. Every day that you grieve is a day Jesus is risen from the dead. Every day that you have sorrow, that you have sins, that you sin against someone, that they sin against you, is a day Jesus is risen from the dead.
It’s not just in our sorrow or tribulation. It’s in our prosperity, too. The good days are days that Jesus is risen from the dead. “In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our prosperity, and in the hour of death,” Jesus is risen from the dead. “God has rescued us from such a death”—everlasting death—“and He will rescue us, we have hoped in Him because He will still deliver us,” because He is “the one who raises the dead,” as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians. Each and every day, every single, there isn’t a day where this isn’t true: EVERY DAY IS A DAY THAT JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
Our peace, our hope, and our joy is in Him, Jesus alone. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus says, “but take heart I have overcome the world.” He is risen from the dead. EVERY DAY IS A DAY THAT JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. And no matter where you are or what you do or what you experience or what you endure, this Jesus keeps His promise, His Baptismal promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And if He with you till the world ends, with you even forever, He’s not not with you now!
Every day is day that you are baptized into Christ Jesus. Christ is risen. You’re baptized. “His mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” He keeps His promise. He will bring you through. He must. He will. You’re His. He’s yours. That’s what it means that you’re baptized. You and Jesus, like one thing.
He sympathizes with you in your weakness, your sorrow. He was “the Man of sorrows.” He bore your sins. Now, He’s alive and uses His almighty power not only to hear and answer your prayers, your cries, your tears to Him. He not only uses His power to stay with you. He uses His almighty power to strengthen and keep you in Him unto life everlasting. (Jesus’ body and blood are of such life and death importance!)
We may have sorrow and tribulation every day. That’s the way of things in a sin-ravaged world. But each day, EVERY DAY IS A DAY JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. “Great is His faithfulness.” It’s even true forever. As it is with Jesus, your Jesus, so it will be for you, too.