Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22   

     The idea of being a Living Gospel is that we share who God is with others in order that they would know Him. But, what if in living for Jesus people do not decide to believe in Jesus? What if instead they decide to hate me? What if living for Jesus instead of unifying people causes people to instead be hateful and frustrated with me. What if my life lived for Jesus was filled with sorrow and pain? Would being a Living Gospel be easy or exciting then?

     That is where a mentality about healthy churches growing numerically can be dangerous and inappropriate. We must remember that, we could do everything right and still struggle to see people come to know Jesus. The church could be kind, be helpful, be welcoming, be honest and still people will not believe in Jesus. The Gospel is not a guaranteed sale, and we are not Kirby Vacuum salesmen.

      The goal of being a Living Gospel is not to get our foot in the door, our goal is to love and proclaim Christ to all knowing that the cost is owed by us not them. Not the cost of salvation, Christ paid that, rather the cost is our comfort and our own sorrows.

     John 16:20 & 22 speak about a time of sorrows the disciples would have and that their joy was coming. That is the picture we share with others, our joy is not found in today. Our joy is found in eternity with God. Our joy is found in what Jesus did through His death and His resurrection.

      It starts today, we can have peace in our trials and in our circumstances because this moment is not what we live for. We as believers do not only live once. As believers we live again with so much more than all of creation. We live with God!

      This passage is a common theme for Jesus. Jesus often spoke to His disciples about His eminent death and departure, but the time had finally come. Jesus spoke of judgement and he spoke of what will come next. He emphasizes some intense things that were coming for those who believed in Him.

     Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20

     So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

     Pause for a moment. The disciples who first heard this were real people who had abandoned all they had to follow Jesus. They had done so because they believed Jesus had come to bring the kingdom of God. They were waiting for God to enter the world and bring about a change that would restore the nation of Israel and the world to a place that worshiped God. And, they had gotten in on the ground floor.

     Instead, they learned that they were at the beginning of losing everything they had left, even though they had already given up all they had before. They had already left behind everything they had to follow Jesus, now all they had left, Jesus Himself and their lives, were going to be forfeited as well.

     The book of Acts shows a tremendously different picture than that of the Gospels when it comes to the disciples turned Apostles. When Jesus told these men that they would weep and mourn it could not have made any sense to them. They were still waiting for the kingdom of God to be brought about by their Messiah Jesus. And, this Messiah, or anointed one, or king, was about to receive the opposite of kingly riches.

     Remember this important truth. Jesus was hung on a cross. Not the cross, a cross. Cross were common and meant to be a torture device that inflicted pain and promoted shame on you as well as those who cared about you. You were not hidden away for your crime. Rather, you shamefully displayed so that all would see you wither and die in disgust. You were lifted up for all to see, not for glory, but for shame.

     Yet, Jesus used the cross that He went on to be lifted up for glory and to release us from the shame of failure. The God of the universe embraced shame because it lead to our name being restored which gives God fame! Judgement will come for all. But, what was done on the cross has freed those who look to God for freedom from the pains of death for eternity. This is one of my favorite things God does. He uses what others mean for evil to produce so much good.

God uses what others mean for evil to produce even greater good!

    The apostles would see the God of the universe abused and tortured for their sake. Their hope of a life in the kingdom now would have to wait. They didn’t understand it as they prepared for the impactful moment of Jesus on a cross. They were scattered and afraid. They didn’t understand the significance then, they had not fully grasped who Jesus is and what He was doing until later. That later was what Jesus promised when He said their sorrow would be turned to joy when Jesus returned to life.

     Jesus had to endure shame and death before the disciples understood the joy that was to come with new life. We can miss this intrinsic truth in the Gospel. The Gospel is not cheap. In Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage he states, “That which is the grief of saints is the joy of sinners.”[1] As believers we rejoice at God being known, but are broken when He is belittled or attacked.

    The disciples were grieved for a little while because of Jesus death. But, they were brought joy at His resurrection where they saw Him and touched Him. And, as Jesus continued this night’s conversation He spoke of the Holy Spirit that was to come and help them. But, that is the hardest part of this passage.

    The disciple were going to be both grieved and filled with joy well before our time. We are grieved that Jesus had to die and we rejoice that He lives. But, we still have plenty to grieve about today and sometimes have a hard time finding what to rejoice about.

    This does not mean that the hope of eternity is not something to be rejoice over. The harder part in studying these passages is that the disciples had access to a tangible touchable Jesus both before and after their grieving.

    Often, being a Living Gospel for Christ, just like in normal life, brings about hurt and pain. Jesus is intimately and intentionally familiar with hurt and pain. He is also intimately and intentionally familiar with joy and peace.

     Jesus wants us to have peace in the midst of our turmoil. Not that it will negate the sorrow and hurt. No, rather that it would give us hope in the through our circumstances. The sorrows we face today are distinctly and only for today.

    Jesus promised His disciples here in this text that their own eminent sorrow would end and that greater joy would come. When Jesus was enduring the cross, He knew of the joy that would come from it. When the disciples saw Jesus brought back to life they knew that He was so much more than that moment.

Joy in Christ is more than the moment.

    Where do you find your peace in the midst of the sorrow? Where do you find perspective while in the struggle? And, where do you find confidence in the midst of doubt?

     The joy and peace the disciples were promised came after the resurrection. This is something that has already happened. So why do we still struggle after coming to know Jesus to find peace. Why do we have so much grief today?

     After all, “…sorrow will be transformed into “joy” because Jesus will not be defeated by the grave.”[2] And, again we look at Matthew Henry who shares that, “The most that death does to our Christian friends is to take them out of our sight, not out of being, not out of bliss, but out of all relation to us, only out of sight, and [even] then not out of mind.”[3] We know the promises of God we grasp and believe in the power of the most high. Yet, we so often are caught up in sorrow after sorrow.

    How do we share Jesus, through our own sorrows when we say that Jesus promises peace and joy? Our hurts, our pain, our fears are real they are not just simply real to us, they are reality to us. And, this is not unique to us.

    Look in the scriptures. The disciples those closest with Jesus doubted the resurrection of Jesus and didn’t understand until some pretty awe-inspiring moments happened in their lives. Jesus appeared to them numerous times fully alive after dying. One of them literally had to stick his fingers into the holes in his hands and side. Sharing Jesus while having hurt and pain is not simple. While you endure the struggles of life there is no a simple solution.

    The disciples saw Jesus and even when the helper, the Holy Spirit came, they were witness to it physically being made manifest for them to see. We do not have that opportunity, yet we are called to believe, to trust, and to have confidence as we embark on a journey unknown.

     Jesus does have an encouraging prayer blessing those who do not see and still believe. But, what we lack in sight is made up for in faith. Our faith may waiver, our thoughts may forsake us, and our attitudes may be in flux, but what has not changed is our God.

     God is our firm foundation, our true north, and our anchor during life’s most trying of times. The world, life, family, friends, and everything may go to fecal matter but He remains steadfastly there for you.

     To be honest and fair, being at peace in the midst of any part of life is difficult. What we have hope for is not success today or tomorrow, or even that everything will work out. Instead we have hope that when everything goes wrong in life we have eternity with God to look forward to.

     Imagine being a disciple of Jesus, the God of the universe in human flesh. Imagine seeing countless hurting rejoice at the healing that had happened to themselves or those they care about. Imagine seeing the lame get up and walk rejoicing. Imagine seeing countless hurting healed. Imagine seeing those who could not see for the first time. Then imagine hearing this:

     Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20

     So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

     Jesus had just transformed countless lives in front of you. He had just turned so many people’s grief to joy. But, you have joy right now. Your master, teacher, and friend was just welcomed into the city as a king! Your nation’s healer, savior, and hope is hear, now. Why would you have any cause to grieve.

     We have seen God do amazing and spectacular things in the lives of so many people we know. I know what God has done in my life. Yet, so often we are distracted and worried when the sorrowful moments happen. We will have grief either because we share Jesus with others or whether it comes from everyday life.

     “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

What gives you peace, or grounds you, during frustrating and difficult situations?

 

 

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2025.

[2] Gary M. Burge, John, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 441.

[3] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2024.