Jubilate, the 3rd Sunday after Easter + John 16:16-23a + May 7, 2017

MAKE A || joyful shout to God, all the | earth! | - *
            Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise | glo- | ri- | ous. (Psalm 66:1–2)
|| Say to God, “How awesome are Your | works! | - *
            Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit them- | selves | to | You.
|| Come and see the works of | God; | - *
            He is awesome in His doing toward the | sons | of | men.
|| Oh, bless our God, you | peo- | ples! *
            And make the voice of His praise | to | be | heard,
|| Who keeps our soul among the | liv- | ing, *
            And does not allow our feet | to | be | moved. (Psalm 66:3, 5, 8–9)
|| Make a joyful shout to God, all the | earth! | - *
            Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise | glo- | ri- | ous. (Psalm 66:1–2)

Collect for Jubilate, the 3rd Sunday after Easter
Almighty God, Who showest to them that be in error the light of Thy truth to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness, grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession and to follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.  

Lamentations 3:18-26
1 Peter 2:11-20
St. John 16:16-23a

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         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.” Of course the disciples don’t understand this. Jesus is speaking cryptically.  He says this to them on the night in which He was betrayed. He’s speaking of his death and resurrection. In just a little while, in less than 24 hours to be precise, they won’t see him any longer because He will be betrayed in the hands of sinners, beaten, mocked, and crucified. The “little while” is only three days. On at least three other occasions Christ had told them just that. In Mark 10:33-34 He told them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles;  and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” After Peter makes the great confession about Christ, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), “Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21). The disciples, especially Peter, would have none of that kind of talk. So when Jesus says, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me,” it’s no surprise that the disciples failed to comprehend what Jesus was saying. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

2)         Christ continues with the thought to encourage them: “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.” In a little while Christ will be taken from them, nailed to a cross and lifted up. They will weep and lament at this. Their hearts will be filled to the brim with sorrow. There will be no Jubiliate, no joyful shouts to God, no singing out the honor of his name, no making His praise glorious (Psalm 66:1-2). At least not among the disciples. They will weep and lament that their Lord is taken away from them. The world, on the other hand, will Jubilate. The world will rejoice at the death of Christ. The world is full of men who “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Jesus said that the world “hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). The world is the domain of the devil, whom St. Paul calls “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). This why the world rejoices at the death of Christ. The world is full of wicked men, under the sway of the devil, who see Christ and say, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours” (Mark 12:7). The world rejoices when Christ dies up on the cross, for the world and its ruler imagine that they have won. The world’s rejoicing adds even more sorrow on the disciples. It’s one thing to have Christ taken away. It’s quite another to have to endure the gloating of the world on account of this sorrow.

3)         But that changes with the resurrection. The disciples must endure their “little while.” But they are to endure it in the same way a woman endure the pains of childbirth. “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.” The disciples are to approach their “little while” of suffering and sorrow and affliction with the confidence that it is not permanent. When a woman goes into labor all she feels is pain. But she endures it knowing that it will be short-lived in the grand scheme of things and that when her time is finished she will have a child. So it is for the disciples. They are to enter the betrayal of their Lord, His bitter sufferings and His death armed with the knowledge that all of it will last but “a little while.” “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.” Just as a woman emerges from her labor pains joyfully holding her newborn child, so the disciples will emerge from their affliction and sorrow with a joy that no one can take from them. Their Lord, who was dead, is risen. No amount of persecution, trial, or cross can take from them their joy that their Lord Jesus is alive, that their sins are atoned for by His death, and that because He lives into eternity in spite of suffering and death, so shall all who believe in Him be raised from the dead to life everlasting.

4)         The “little while” of the three days without Christ is something that we who live two millennia later don’t have to endure. But Christ’s words are just as comforting for us today as they were for His disciples after the resurrection. For you and I have our “little while” which we must endure just as they did. We all suffer in this life. Each of us our afflicted in different ways. Every Christian has his cross to bear. Some bear afflictions of body, permanent damage, disease, or simply the decay which accompanies age. Some suffer mental anguish and affliction and anxiety. There are sufferings which we bring upon ourselves because of our sins. Looking to the Epistle lesson from St. Peter’s first epistle we see what our crosses look like. We each have the cross of our sinful nature and its “fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). At times you are called upon to bear the cross of false accusations, when the world and false brothers “speak against you as evildoers” (1 Peter 2:12). We all bear the cross of submitting to “every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13-14). This is a cross to bear at times because rulers often get their divinely-appointed duties mixed up and punish those who do good and lavish praise, wealth, and honor on those who do evil. This is a cross every Christian is to bear. Peter says that servants are to be submissive to their masters, whether good or harsh. And while none of us are slaves, this same cross is to be born for those who are employees. Cross and trial is common to everyone.

5)         But they only last “a little while.” Christ gives you this word so that you do not despair because of your crosses. Suffering will last only a little while. Your affliction is temporary. Christ wants you to bear your cross as He bore His, with patience and faith. This is what He desires from us when the First Commandment says, “You shall have no other Gods.” That means that God wants us to fear, to love, and to trust Him above all other things in this life. He wants us to expect only good things from Him because a God is, by definition, that to which we look for every good thing. Christ wants you to endure your affliction and your sorrow in the confidence that the Lord has sent it for your benefit. We don’t often see our crosses as something that profit us but that is how Christ and His apostles speak of our sufferings. Through our afflictions and sufferings God teaches to flee from our sins. Through our crosses Christ teaches us humility that trusts Him as the giver of only good things. As a father knows what is best for his child and gives that to the child, so God our heavenly Father gives us precisely what we need when we need it, and nothing He gives to us is evil, especially our cross and trials, for all these given to us so that we seek God in His Word and cling to the promises He makes us in His Word and in His sacraments.

6)         We are to approach our afflictions, whatever they may be, as Christ told the disciples to approach their affliction and sorrow. We are to approach them in confidence that they will last only “a little while.” Your Lord may lift your cross in this life. Other crosses He only lifts from you when He calls you out of this vale of tears to your heavenly rest. That means that for the Christian, even death is a blessing. You may very well have sorrow today. But it will not last. You may very well have to endure all sorts of mocking and scorn. But it will not be forever. You may have to bear up under something unimaginable, something which the world will see and assume that God is against you. But that’s not the case at all. Your cross and trial will last “a little while.” Then your Lord will relieve you and lift it from your shoulders. Until He does, rejoice and make a joyful shout, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). If you have a cross or trial that simply means that you are a son of God.

7)         Just as the disciples could not know how long “a little while” would last, so we do not know how long our crosses and afflictions will last either. But do not despair and do not grow impatient with your Lord. Just as He relieved the sorrow of His disciples by rising from the dead on the third day, so He promises to relieve you and refresh you through His Word by giving you faith to trust Him in the midst of affliction. Consider the example of St. Paul who wrote to the Corinthians: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). The joy of Christ’s resurrection is yours, for you know that as He lives, so too you shall live eternally. You know that your suffering and affliction is not for the sake of yours sins, for Christ has atoned for the sins of the world and justifies all who believe in Him and flee to Him in confident faith. Rejoice, whatever cross you bear at the moment, for the joy of sins forgiven and life everlasting is one that the world can never take from you.  Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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