Fourth Sunday of Easter 2018

April 22, 2018

Bible Text: John 16:16-22 |

Series:

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We are in the midst of the Easter season. Jesus is risen. Our sins are forgiven. The good work of the Spirit has begun in us. But on this Sunday of jubilation, we acknowledge that all is not yet complete. The enemy is defeated, but he still howls at us. Our flesh has been subdued, but it still pulls at us. The world is drunk in its delusion. It thinks either that Jesus is dead or that He doesn’t care. The Lord foretold this. He said that you will weep and lament. No one gets out of this life unscathed. No Christian is spared the cross. And no one gets to Easter without going through Good Friday.

In that weeping and lamenting, even in temptation and sorrow, we are comforted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died and was taken away from the sight of the disciples for a little while. Then He rose and they saw Him. Though they had failed Him, He was not angry. He had died for them. He returned as a Bridegroom to His chamber. He came in mercy and love for the Father’s redeemed children. He bestowed His peace upon them and sent them to share the good news of His resurrection with the world...to give them joy.

To illustrate what we currently suffer, and what the disciples suffered that Holy Saturday, He compares us to women in the throes of labor. It will hurt. You will think that you can take no more. You might even curse your husband and wish to die. But the pangs of childbirth are the ushers of joy. You will discover on the other side that it was all worth it; that your husband was faithful; that the child is worth every ounce of pain, every sacrifice. Part of this is simply the promise that the suffering will finally end. But the passage of a child out of the womb also shows something of the Lord’s passing through the dank womb of the earth and into the light of day. Death is the passage to life.

But more than that, the mother does not even remember her pain, so great is the joy which follows. There is no room left in her for that memory because of the joy that a child has been born to her. In the same way, the Lord has caused a new man to be born out of death, out of sorrow. He has drowned the Old Adam in the waters of Holy Baptism. From those waters, a child of God has been born: redeemed, spotless, righteous before God.

Here is the point: You have sorrow now. That is real. Contrary to what some false preachers would have you believe, the life of a Christian is not a life of ease if you just believe enough. We pray for relief. But we understand that God works through sorrows, that He keeps you close to Himself, that He afflicts you and chastens you according to His mercy. Through sorrow, pain, and temptation He is working virtue in you. He is teaching you to trust in Him. He is keeping you close to Himself. This is why confirmation was such a big deal in the early church, and why we still practice it today. They understood that the catechumens were joining an army; that they were being set up against Satan and the world and their own flesh; that they were taking up their crosses.

That work, those crosses, will turn to joy. It will not be different joy. It is what you have already now, for Jesus is risen. You are not alone. Your sins are forgiven.  But you see Him now only dimly in the Sacrament. You receive His risen body in bread and know it by faith. But you will see Him again…and you will see Him fully. You will see Him in His risen, glorified body. You will see this with your own eyes—not hidden in bread and wine, but visible to all the world. Then your joy will be full. You will remember your anguish no more, and no one will take your joy from you. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Download FilesMP3