Grief turns to Joy John 16 v16 – 17 v5
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Whenever such a tragic and despicable act such as Thursday’s happens, often a preacher will change the sermon theme to help people either come to terms with such grief or attempt to make any sense of such an act, if ever one could. This morning I have kept to my original sermon notes, for two reasons. First because Paul the vicar set the passage to be preached on and because it’s a House Group Discussion Sermon, my notes had to be written and published before the events of last week took place, so my notes would be available for you to take home after the service. But secondly I believe that these events bring home the importance and urgency of what God had previously laid on my heart to share with you this morning.
If you are a regular attender of our morning services you would know that we have been studying over the past few months the last word’s of Jesus. Primarily focusing on conversations with his original disciples, however words that are also relevant to us today, especially if we claim to be his followers, his disciples! It never fails to amaze me who Jesus picks to assist in his ministry. Nowadays it seems that if you apply for even the most menial of jobs, references and a good CV is required and if you get the job numerous courses may await! Some companies even demand an in-depth examination before employment. Can you imagine if this were so 2000 years ago, when Jesus picked his disciples! Jesus may have received such a letter as this. Although I guess many of you have heard what I’m about to read before in one form or another, some times it’s good to be reminded of things.
TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph,
Woodcrafters Carpenter Shop
From: Jordan Management Consultants
Thank you for submitting the resumes for the twelve men that you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we not only run the test through our computer, but also arranged for personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultants. The profiles of all test are included, and you’ll want to study each of the carefully.
As part of our services for your guidance, we make some general comments. It is the staff’s opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitudes for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capabilities. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers–James and John–the sons of Zebedee, place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale. One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He’s the man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your comptroller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.
Sincerely, Jordan Management Consultants
How do we measure up? Is this fellowship, this group of disciples, any different? I think not!
Although I believe this has been a good teaching series, from a preachers point of view, it’s been a bit of nightmare in a sense, because so many of the passages Paul allocated to preach on covered much the same ground. It’s difficult sometimes to keep people’s attention at the best of times but I hope that you have been paying attention because it’s important we grasp what Jesus was saying! For at least 3 Chapters John 13-16 and in other texts, Jesus spends a lot of time going over the same ground time and time again. Although he told the disciples many times about his mission and the importance of his dying on the cross, subsequent resurrection, and the Holy Spirit, they still never really grasped it!
How many of you really enjoyed going to school? I must confess that I hated school, I had no real encouragement from my parents, and most of what my teachers told me went straight over my head. How many of you can relate to my childhood experience when a teacher might go over something time and time again and in the end because I could see they were losing patience with me, I said I understood but didn’t really have a clue!
So let’s look at this passage where Jesus the best teacher ever teaches and reassures his disciples:
Disciples never understood:
V17-18 I love this part of the reading. Certainly what Jesus says in v16 seems a paradox “in a little while you will see me no more, and after a little while you will see me” I think I too would have been puzzled if I were there amongst them. Like me with some of my teachers, they were reluctant to admit their lack of understanding to Jesus, their teacher! Instead they tried to sort it out amongst themselves. I don’t know about you, but I really believe that Jesus had a sense of humour, he must have he choose me as a disciple. I can just imagine him standing back watching the disciples trying to sort out the apparent riddle by themselves, maybe even having a slight chuckle! In v19 we are told it was obvious to Jesus they were struggling and their pride prevented them admitting their ignorance and lack of memory! However Jesus stepped in to save their embarrassment! Maybe we shouldn’t be to harsh of them, after all today as Christian we have history to look back on and accurately recorded statements to testify that Jesus was telling the truth!
In a Little While you will see me no more: Or put another way ‘soon you will see me no more’. The word shortly is a bit like how long is a piece of string isn’t it! Like a parent asking children “when are you going to do your homework or go to bed?” or a wife asking the husband “when are you going to decorate the bedroom?” and the answer is “shortly or soon” I guess none of the disciples realised that ‘soon’ actually meant the very next day as Jesus was seized from The Garden of Gethsemane, one of Jesus’s favourite retreats! Take note The Lord’s timing is often very different to our perspective! Although I am as guilty as most in putting some things off till later, one thing we should never put off, is trying to unravel the mystery of Jesus and accepting him as our saviour. I say mystery not because God purposely complicates things, but sometimes we have difficult understanding his logic and plan. For example virgin birth, resurrection and giving us freewill, knowing full well we would abuse it. You don’t need to know all the answers to take your first step of faith. Don’t delay, tomorrow may be to late! I can always remember when I was looking into Christianity, meeting regularly with the curate asking the most difficult questions I could come up with. I asked him if I would be forgiven for sins that happened years ago, to which he replied ‘Absolutely’ So I told him I would delay becoming a Christian till I was too old to want to do some of the outrageous thing I did or were tempted to do. To which he replied “Fine” then he got out his diary and said “Can you tell what day you are going to die as I would like to take your funeral”. The reality hit home, especially as at that time I was still a serving police office not knowing from one moment to the next what was in store for me! The reality is regardless to your age or occupation, nobody knows the date of their unavoidable death. I don’t want to appear insensitive but the events of last week highlight this! Are you sitting on the fence, still waiting for answers? Yes you can ask those around you for help but in the end the ball is in your court. Come to Jesus today, without delay, let him show you the way!
Their Grief will turn to joy: Jesus tells them that they would weep and mourn while the world rejoices. The Bible clearly records how distraught the disciples were at the death of Christ and how the crowd, who a week previous had cheered him as he rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, now wanted him dead! I love all the illustrations Jesus used. In this passage he likens the transformation from grief to joy to childbirth. Believe it or not, something I have a lot of knowledge about. About six years ago I was invited to Albania to be part of a team which included John Kennett who many of you know. Part of our remit was to inspect orphanages, churches and hospitals and suggest where some available funding was to be directed. It was an amazing trip which I shall never forget, especially the maternity hospital we visited. We moan about our NHS but believe me I cannot begin to describe how filthy that place was, to be born there was probably just one level up from a dirty stable! Without wearing any gown or other protective clothing, we were shown around the operating theatre, the sterilisation plant, which need a great deal of sterilising itself! Then finally as the door to the delivery room was opened it revealed a women on a couch in the late throws of giving birth. The doctor said in broken English âitâs ok carry on itâs only some English looking aroundâ for a brief moment she stopped her panting waved at us then carried on pushing. Poor John Kennett went a bit pale poor boy! For me it was not a first time experience. Before I was a police officer I worked on the London Ambulance Service and delivered 33 babies, where things were left to late! Another warning about delay! I know all about the 3 p’s, pain, pants, and pushes! Yes although I witnessed the pain, even after administering entonox, a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (laughing gas) I then saw the joy as the mother heard that first cry or noise as she held the new baby in her arms.
Then in a little while you will see me: When and how would they see him? 1. 3 days after his death at the resurrection and other sighting over the next 40 days as recorded in the New Testament. However these sighting were not restricted just to the original disciples, at least 500 people testified to having seen the risen Christ. 2. By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost for all believers. (To see is not always to be seen) 3. The Second Coming, when every eye will see him, every knee will bow. But sadly not all will have their grief turned into joy, some will experience just the opposite we are told! But that will have to wait for another sermon!
Reasons to Rejoice: Jesus is talking about a new relationship between the believer and God. Previously people approached God through priests. After Jesus’s resurrection, any believer could approach God directly. As my Life Application Bible puts it ‘A new day has dawned, and now all believers are priests talking with God personally and directly. We approach God not because of our own merit but because Jesus, our great High Priest, has made us acceptable to God.’
The world doesn’t understand why Christians have reason to rejoice, I love it when people say as an insult “that happy clappy lot” if only they fully understood why we are and have reason to be happy clappy! I would rather be happy clappy than saddy badie! The world values are often the opposite of God’s. Is God really interested in the car you drive or the designer clothes you buy? The world scoffs at the time & money a committed Christian gives, sometimes going without themselves! We are often looked upon as misfits and indeed sometimes we may feel like that. But hold on, even if life is difficult now, one day your grief will be turned into joy. Keep you eye not on what today brings but on the future and on God’s promise! I don’t see many Rolls Royces or plasma screens being wizzed up to heaven by DHL! By the Way! Did you know Jesus is the main shareholder and MD of DHL? No not the global transport distribution company, but our Direct Heavenly Link. Jesus is both our passage and prayer link to God. Our reward, our rejoicing will be great when we are called to the throne-room of heaven. It never fails to surprise me the wrong perspective most non Christians have of us. I guess I was just like them 21 years ago! Hey if you expect perfection, and me to be the exact replica of Jesus forget it! 1 John 1 v8 ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned , we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.’ So rejoice because as much as the world thinks we should be perfect and not hypocrites, God knows our human weakness. The difference is that a Christian should recognise their sin and be prepared to allow The Lord to do something about it!
Not only am I not perfect but I don’t know all the answers! Iâm surprised Iâm ever asked to preach here, opps sorry talk here, I must use the word preach C of E rules not God’s! In verse 30 of our reading it seems that the penny had at last dropped for the Disciples. In verse 31-32 Jesus says this “You believe at last! But a time is coming, and has come when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone.” Can you imagine the mixed emotions the disciples must have felt. In one breath it seems Jesus gives them credit for believing then in the next he talks of desertion! Although many swore an unfailing allegiance, in reality within days of this conversation, denied him and fled in terror. Had the penny really dropped, I think not, because they abandoned the treasure! In figurative speech! Although Jesus promised peace it wasn’t until after they had seen the risen Christ and experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that their faith became a reality and their destiny was fulfilled. What was there destiny? I started of with an imaginary CV now lets look at the factual destiny of that motley bunch.
John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the
Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel,
in the East Indies.
Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.).
Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
If you think you are under pressure because of your faith, think again! One thing I know those guys are rejoicing in heaven and I long to meet up with them. What qualifies me to mix in their company. Like them I’m an ordinary guy created by God who has fallen in love with and trust Jesus. I may not have full knowledge yet, may not even be perfect and I hope that I too would follow even unto death but I cannot guarantee it. As I look out at this diverse gathering of people here this morning has Jesus’s prayer he prayed at the end of our reading come into fruition? Have you come to know God through the sacrifice of Jesus. Do you come under his authority? How many more times do some of you need to hear the most important message ever, before the penny drops and you accept the challenge. I say challenge because becoming a Christian isn’t always an easy ride as the original disciples found out, but your grief will be turned into joy, if you allow Christ in to the situation!
Don’t leave it to a little later, come right now, come just as you are to Jesus. Remember the 3 P’s of Childbirth? Pant, Pain and Push. Pants: We have already sung that lovely song ‘As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you’ Is that right or just empty words? Pain: Do we believe that Jesus alone is my strength and shield? Do we want him more than anything else to easy our pain to change our grief to joy? Push: One thing Jesus never does is push his way in, we have to invite him. Believe you me, Jesus wants to be our friend, brother and King are we willing to lay down our ignorance, arrogance and pride and allow him to rule & reign in our lives not just here on earth but when we are called home as his believing children. AMEN