Jubilate Sermon 2013
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. John 16:16-22
April 21, 2013
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
What is Jesus talking about?
What does He mean “a little while”? Is two thousand years a “little while”? No one has seen Him in that time, except for crazy people and liars. And maybe a few saints.
Two thousand years is not a little while. And don’t tell me “A thousand years with the Lord is like a day.” I’m not the Lord. With me a day of pain can be like an eternity. Many of you are better than I am, but I know it’s true for you too.
Sometimes you just about give up trying to understand what Jesus says. When everything is going more or less okay, we can all live with not really understanding what He’s saying. But not when trouble comes. Then we want Jesus to tell us what’s going on, to speak clearly.
But He doesn’t seem to do that. The twelve disciples were anxious because they knew that Jesus was going away from them. They knew that bad things were coming. But what were they supposed to do? When would they see Him again? It seemed like Jesus wasn’t being very clear. This was not a good time to be unclear.
We have this experience too. When we’re little someone takes us to Sunday School. We learn that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, that our sins are forgiven, and that when He comes to judge the living and the dead He will give us eternal life.
Then we get a little older and we learn a whole lot more. And sometimes we are able to find enough comfort and strength in it to endure the pain that comes to us for a “little while.”
Much of it is just the daily pain of temptation to pretend like you’re not a Christian in order to avoid conflict. Kids and teenagers are tempted to do and say things they know are wrong in order to fit in, and to hide the fact that they believe in Jesus in order to avoid being made fun of or losing status.
Adults have a similar problem. Even if you are open about being a Christian it’s easy to just avoid interaction with people who aren’t Christians, to write them off instead of actively seeking their salvation and blessing.
But “a little while” comes to us in the callings God has given us in dramatic ways. Parents grieve as their children get into trouble. Children mourn and ask God “How long?” when parents neglect them or their homes are full of turmoil and fighting instead of safety.
As citizens we grieve when tragedies befall our country, as in this latest terror attack in Boston. We have sorrow when our rulers do not rule wisely and justly.
But the worst kind of pain is when tribulation comes to us and what we have learned about the Triune God does not appear to help, or it no longer makes sense.
What about when you or someone you love wants to change but can’t break free of an addiction to drugs or alcohol or something else? Where is Jesus then? Do we just tell a repentant addict, “You must not really be sorry for your sins–or else you must not really believe in Christ”?
Or the person whose life has been chaotic—who may have been abused, or who suffers from mental illness, and who come to church seeking salvation and help from Christ, but just can’t seem to get their act together?
When we find ourselves helpless before some sin, or constantly fighting to keep our heads above water?
This kind of anguish is the worst, because we begin to feel in our hearts that God has forsaken us, or that we never had Him in the first place. It is really the anguish and torment of hell breaking in on us.
If you have God and are certain that He loves you and is pleased with you, all other pain can be endured. With every other kind of suffering, God promises us that it will not last forever—it will come to an end.
But the loss of God is the loss of everything. If God is for us, who can be against us, says Paul. But if God is against us, who can be for us? Who can help us?
Thanks be to God! God is not against you.
“ a little while, and you will not see me; again a little while, and you will see me.”
The two different types of seeing.
“Your sorrow will turn into joy.”
Like water into wine. The very suffering that grieved you will become the cause of joy.
Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples’ shameful denial—became the source of joy. Our hour of suffering and our failures and sins are turned into joy, because it is ur sins and helplessness that make us thirst for Christ. He thirsted on the cross for our salvation when we were not thirsty. As our hour comes and we have Christ taken away from our eyes (or the feelings of our hearts), we acquire a thirst for the same thing that Jesus thirsted for–our salvation.
When our hour of tribulation comes, it will last only a little while
This will happen not by our doing but because Christ promises it. We do not make it last a little while. It lasts a little while because Jesus promised it. The disciples did not comport themselves well during Jesus’ passion. They fell. It wasn’t because of this that the hour lasted a little while only, but because Christ brought it to an end according to His promise. They experienced the loss of Christ, despair, hell. Then Jesus returned to them and gave them joy.
“No one will take your joy from you.”
This is the story of our lives as Christians.
Through the cross Jesus overcame the world
After our suffering and struggle with sin Jesus gives us everlasting joy through the Gospel.
“It is done.”
Then even when we don’t understand, we begin to be unafraid because we know the ending and outcome. Christ is risen!
So shall His love give us above
From misery and death set free
All joy and full consolation. (483)
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- He is Our Meat and Drink Indeed. St. John 10:11-16. Misericordias Domini 2013 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- “Whoever Does Not Receive the Kingdom of God Like a Child Will Never Enter it”. Sermon on Infant Baptism, Wed. after Judica 2013 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- The Gates of the City are Always Open – Sermon, Quasimodogeniti 2013. (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)