SORROW TO JOY

5th Sunday of Easter (Cantate)

John 16:12–22

12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. 16 " A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying." 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'? 20 "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

Grace, peace and mercy from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

I. INTRODUCTION (The Creative Word of God)

Did you hear the amazing promise of our Gospel today? Jesus says, "your sorrow will turn into joy." Like every Gospel promise, it’s a sure thing, a done deal. Why? Because Jesus says it, and what He says - happens. Let there be ______, and there is. There’s nothing for man to do to complete it. It is - whether man believes it or not, it is what God says it is because He says it so.  

Your belief doesn't make it so; faith receives what has been created, made by God to be true. But unbelief denies the truth, and so declines and refuses to let it be as God has created it. Yet God speaks truth to you in faith.

Jesus says: Peace to you, why? Because we do not have peace, on our own. Rejoice, why? Because we do not have joy, on our own! Live because we have not life. Salvation, because we need saving—and mostly from ourselves. And, believe! Because we do not have faith, on our own.

God gives us all of these by speaking them into us. It should not surprise us that God speaks these things into creation. Romans 10:17 says: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ proclaimed.” You see it happens extra nos; completely outside of our selves, but completely for us.

So in our text Jesus is telling of the joy that He will speak into lives of sorrow and tribulation. Sorrow may come to us in the form of a threatening disease or a debilitating health problem. Sorrow may come because of unemployment or underemployment or having an unpleasant job. These things even come to unbelievers, though it seems as for some not until the very last days of their lives. To our eyes it seems like some have a lifetime of decadent reward and unlimited pleasure.

It seems that we suffer all the more, because we are Christian, members of Christ body here on earth. And yes we do suffer, because we are in the process of being purified. Due to our faithfulness to God we might lose a job, or lose friends, or relatives, children or even a spouse.  We have watched people leave the church and fill their lives with worldly philosophies because they are controlled by worldly cares. Remember Noah. Let me remind you though we still have more than 8 people in this ark of the church. Faithful people are tested and they do sorrow.   

II. SUFFERING

But why the sorrow, why does suffering and the tribulation have to come to believers?

1.     Suffering shows us our sin and drives us to our knees. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10: For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. Suffering drives us to our knees showing our sin and situation. It stops the ego from thinking that somehow we deserve everything. It removes the thought that we can work it out on our own. We need to look outside ourselves and see the solution elsewhere. We need to look to the cross of Christ.

2.     Suffering shapes us. St. James 1:2-4 says it this way: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, that you become whole and complete, lacking in nothing.” Suffering teaches us to be complete in the midst of all situations. Because our completeness is not internal but external. It’s not in self, but in Christ. That’s what it means to become Christlike. Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding”.

3.     Suffering shows who is a genuine believer. In the midst of Christendom there are those who say we should throw out the doctrines that keep us from being in fellowship with one another. Change our identity, play music those appeals to the masses, music that lets us clap our hands and stomp our feet. And we ought to preach messages that tickle the ears, peach life application and politics and piety. Become more like the world. Even some in the Missouri Synod have embraced this watered down way of worship. St. Paul faced the same situation says in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19: “I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

4.     Through suffering, God reveals Christ to the world through us. In a funeral service part of that service is to share 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 where St. Paul says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may  comfort others who are in affliction, with the same comfort with which we ourselves are given by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort also. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and your salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; For we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."  But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 8:35-37

Just as all these things are revealed and given to us through the trials and even the death of our Lord, so now they are revealed to the world through the sorrows and even the death of His Saints and that’s you and me. "Blessed in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15  

Ever since the fall, God has chosen to reveal Himself in common ways, sometimes even through seemingly ugly and violent things. Here are some examples.

• He will crush your head, you will strike His heal.

• The seed of the woman

• The Flood

• The wrestling with Jacob

• The people of Israel

• OT sacrifices

• Wilderness

• Exodus

• Stable and manger

• Shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors and prostitutes

• Riding on a donkey

• The cross

• Martyred disciples

• Persecuted Church

• Baptism into His death

• A supper to remember His death until He comes

What Jesus  tells His disciples and us, is that after His death and resurrection which was soon to come, is that from the time He ascends to the right hand of the Father until His second coming on the Last Day, His church, the disciples and every believer to come after them is living in the Last Days.

Yes dear people of God, this is the last days of our world—RIGHT NOW!!!

We hear it from St. Paul as he trains Pastor Timothy to prepare the saints under his care.  2 Timothy 3:1-4:  “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”.

What about Jesus own words? In Matthew 24 verses 3 through 9: “As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake”.

That's also the message of Christ's Revelation to St. John.

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1 Peter 2:20-21)    

III JOY

But take heart dear fellow redeemed. Your suffering and tribulation and death are not punishment for your sin. That would be eternal. That’s what Christ suffered and endured for you, for the joy set before Him. Your suffering and tribulation and death are all part of the birth pangs of being a child of the kingdom of God. But listen carefully to these wonderful words of Jesus for you, "your sorrow will turn into joy" —joy for you and joy for those who will be brought to faith and into the Church through your suffering, your continuation of bearing the cross of Christ in this world as His body, the church here on earth.

The Church is the Ark that saves, you and every believer, and bears us safely through the troubled waters of tribulation into the kingdom of heaven.

Just as Jesus cross was merely a temporary, though painful and debilitating wound, so is our tribulation. And just as our Lord endured the cross for the joy set before Him, so too is our tribulation only a wounding of our heel which we endure for the joy set before us.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. An let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as has become the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Last Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Just as Jesus spoke to His disciples in our Gospel lesson, He is speaking to you today in the Divine Service and through His Word. Jesus is here in your presence, to turn your sorrow into joy, for He is here to forgive all your sins in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. "Your sorrow will turn into joy." For where Jesus speaks His Word it is so and it is done. In Jesus name, amen and amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, AMEN.