᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
(5. Oops!: We live in sorrow-full world.)
Life is a valley of sorrow. Jesus teaches us this, today. When you take what Jesus says today and pair it with Psalm 23’s “valley of the shadow of death,” you get what Luther says in the Explanation to the 7th Petition: “We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.”
Life is a valley of sorrow. That is to say: we live in a sorrow-full world, a world filled with weeping and sorrow, grief and sadness, worry, fear, and death. “You have sorrow now,” Jesus says. Have truer words ever been spoken?
(4. Ugh!: We believe sorrow is everlasting.)
Our sorrow is driven by many things. There’s, of course, the sorrow of persecution and rejection by the world. That’s specifically what Jesus is talking about here. First, the persecution that Jesus Himself received, being rejected by the religious leaders, who “condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.” (Mk 10:33) They “mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him.” (Mk 10:34) Rising on the third day—“I will see you again,” Jesus says.
This same pattern is experienced by some of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. In the time when Jesus isn’t seen, there is sorrow, there is rejection, there is persecution. “You have sorrow now,” Jesus says.
But the sorrow isn’t just this. Jesus says elsewhere in John, “In the world you will have tribulation,” that is, trouble, worry, grief, sadness, “sorrow and sighing.” There’s almost innumerable sources of our sorrow, “false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” “We are attacked by these things.”
We’re not only attacked. We get trapped. Locked into a way of thinking where the sorrow won’t end, that the source of our worry, sorrow, fear, and dread won’t end either. Thus trapped we loose sight of Jesus and His promises. We think of them as temporary, of Jesus as temporary, and our sorrow as eternal, our fears as inevitable. “Held in slavery to the fear of death our entire life.” (Heb 2:15)
(3. Aha!: Our sorrow is on borrowed time.)
We live as if we’re living on borrowed time, but Jesus wants to comfort us with the truth. Take it or leave it—faith takes, receives; unbelief doesn’t. The truth Jesus tells us today is that it’s not you or I who are on borrowed time. It’s the sorrow that’s on borrowed time, just like a woman in labor, as Jesus says, today. But even more clearly, “You have sorrow now…your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Sorrow temporary. Joy eternal. “Weeping may tarry with the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps) “Sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is 51)
SORROW WILL BECOME ENDLESS JOY.
(2. Whee!: SORROW WILL BECOME ENDLESS JOY.)
SORROW WILL BECOME ENDLESS JOY.
That’s what Jesus promises today. “You will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will become joy.” “You have sorrow now…your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.” The world’s joys and pleasures are what’s temporary. They are gift, but not the be-all, end-all of our life. Such be-all, end-all is “covetousness, which is, idolatry,” false god.
SORROW WILL BECOME ENDLESS JOY is what Jesus says. Paul says it, too: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Cor 4) And that’s how our SORROW WILL BECOME ENDLESS JOY.
It’s all a matter of seeing or rather being seen. I’ve been leaving it out of Jesus’ words up to this point because they are the driver of our endless, eternal, everlasting joy. “You have sorrow now, but I will see you again.” Sorrow over seeing a dead Jesus, but endless joy over seeing a living Jesus: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”
One day you will see Jesus face to face, too, and no one will take your joy, will be able to take away your joy, either. That day will come: “He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.” “I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19)
(1. Yeah!: Joy is also yours now.)
But what about now? We’re not living on borrowed time, but gifted time. We’re living on gifted time. All things as gift, will be gift, are gift. Yet Paul’s words are true: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13) We could almost add, echoing Jesus’ words, “Now I joy in part; the I shall joy fully.”
But what about before that day comes? Well, joy is also yours now, but it has nothing to do with you. You don’t have to drum up joy for yourself. Joy is a gift, or rather, joy is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5) He works it within you. His work, not yours. “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ My Lord.” (SC: Third Article) “I rejoice that I cannot by my own thinking or doing rejoice in Jesus Christ My Lord.” “The fruit of the Spirit is “love, JOY, peace.”
For the Spirit to work on us, to work joy in Jesus within us, for SORROW to BECOME ENDLESS JOY by the work of the Spirit, we need the means of the Spirit, also known as the Means of Grace—God’s Word and Sacraments. “Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given, who works faith, where and when it pleases God, in those who hear the Good News that they are received into God’s favor for Christ’s sake.” Jesus for you: into your ears, over your forehead, in your mouth! “My body, given FOR YOU. My blood, shed FOR YOU, for the forgiveness of sins. Eat and drink.”
That Supper is the medicine of immortality, that we would live and not die. (Ignatius) Because we sin we always need the medicine. (Ambrose, AP) “We go exactly because we are unworthy.” (LC V 61) Don’t stay away lest you deprive yourself of life. (Hilary, LC) “It contains and brings with it GOd’s grace and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.” (LC V 69) “It will cure you and give you life in both soul and body. For where the soul has recovered, the body also is relieved.” (LC V 68)
Dear friends, in this life, we—and this is true of all Christian congregations—we have many among us who struggle through the sorrows of life. The only life that’s going to carry them through is the precious life-blood of Jesus, their only joy His forgiveness, their only strength His salvation, their only hope His love. It doesn’t matter if their sorrow is driven by world events, personal events, or their own sins. We as a congregation ought to consider constantly offering the Sacrament every Sunday for their sake out of Christian love and charity. Jesus doesn’t say toughen up but gives promises to the afraid.
If love won’t motivate us, maybe we need Sacrament more than we even know! “The less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason you have to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy.” (LC V 78) “You are in much more in need of the Sacrament against the misery which, unfortunately, you do not see.” (LC V 84) Besides, His body and blood will also be the rain to soften your heart in such love through forgiveness. “His kindness leads us to repentance.” After all, “what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament? he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15–16,” (Christian Questions) as we heard Jesus say today.
The world’s joys will end. Our sorrow will end. Our sorrow’s on borrowed time, as is the joy of the world.
Because we will see Jesus, and because we receive Him, His mercy, His forgiveness, His body and blood now