“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
“A little while,” Jesus says, “and you will see Me no longer, and again a little while, and you will see Me.” On this side of the Cross and Resurrection, we know what Jesus meant by, “A little while.” But the disciples have no clue. They can’t figure it out. So Jesus explains it to them. “A little while and you won’t see Me because I’m going to be bloodied and buried in a tomb. The result of this is that you will have sorrow but the world will rejoice. But then a little while and you will see Me because I’m going to rise from the dead. The result of this is that all your sorrow will turn into joy that no one will be able to take from you.” So, what Jesus is saying here is that the sorrow and the joy of Jesus’ disciples is bound up to how it is with Jesus.
This is also true for you. Your sorrow and your joy is bound up to how it is with Jesus. And because your sorrow and joy is bound up to how it is with Jesus, you should always be joyful. Now, to be joyful doesn’t mean that you aren’t ever sad or that you never cry. Jesus was sad; He cried when Lazarus died (Jn. 11:35). It is good to be sad when a loved one dies. It is good to mourn when God’s good gifts are taken away. Being sad about those things teaches us to long for the Resurrection when all sadness is taken away and creation restored.
But in the midst of our sadness we should always have joy because Jesus has risen never to die again, and He now lives and reigns to all eternity. “Rejoice always,” (1 Thess. 5:16) because Jesus is always with us in His Word and in the Sacraments. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Php. 4:4). But we aren’t always joyful, and that is because of sin. Think through this with me.
Start with this question: What brings you joy? Think about that for a moment. I hope a lot of things come to mind because there are so many good things that God gives to you. What brings you joy? Your family, your home. Hopefully, your work, your hobbies. The things you taste and touch and smell all these good things bring you joy.
Now, I want to ask you a different question: What would rob you of your joy? Here is the kicker because when you answer this question, you will find out what your idols are. What would rob you of your joy? Would getting cancer or some other sickness rob you of your joy? Then you are idolizing your body and health. Would losing your house rob you of your joy? Then you are idolizing your property. Would a certain candidate getting elected this November rob you of your joy? Then you are idolizing the government.
Think through the Ten Commandments with me for a minute. Normally, we think of the Commandments as God putting restrictions on our behavior. That is one of the things the Commandments do. But by giving the Commandments, God protects you and the things He gives you. So consider the Commandments in reverse order:
10 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s. God gives you contentment in the relationships He has given you.
9 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. God gives you contentment in the things He has given you.
8 – Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. God protects your reputation with the truth.
7 – Thou shalt not steal. God protects the things He has given you from people who would take them away.
6 – Thou shalt not commit adultery. God protects your covenant relationship with your spouse so that you can have a joyful, happy marriage.
5 – Thou shalt not kill. God protects your body and the very life He has given you.
4 – Honor thy father and thy mother. God gives and protects order in this world by giving the gift authority.
3 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. God gives His Word and preaching so that you can hear the voice of God.
2 – Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain. God gives you the gift of prayer. You use God’s name to call upon Him in every time of need.
1 – Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me. This is the big one. This is where God gives you Himself. God the Father who created you, God the Son who redeemed you, and God the Holy Spirit who has sanctified you, He invites you to fear, love, and trust in Him above all things. He also invites you to find your joy in Him alone.
A pastor friend of mine used this analogy, and I think it is very helpful. Imagine, you are settling new land. You live by a pond that provides you with water. Eventually, that pond dries up. Now, you have two choices: you can lay down and die, or you can follow the stream that fed that pond and see what happened. Well, you do follow that stream and find another pond. But then that one runs dry. So you follow the stream to another pond and it runs dry. Nine times this happens. Finally, the ninth pond runs dry and you follow the stream and you find the source that never runs dry.
That is how it is with the Commandments. If you look for your joy in the gift of contentment that God gives in the 9th and 10th Commandments, that will be taken away. Or if you find your joy in your stuff that God gives in the 7th Commandment, that will be taken away. If you find your joy in your life, in the 5th Commandment pond, eventually that will be taken away. If you find your joy in the 3rd Commandment, in worship and the gift of hearing God’s Word, that, sometimes is taken away too. Even the joy in the 2nd Commandment, the gift of prayer, that dries up too.
So all you are left with is the source – the first Commandment. There, God says, “Let everything else go. I am your God.” And that, brothers and sisters is where your joy comes from. And when you have God as your God, when you have the source, then all of those other ponds are full. All of those things that God gives and protects, you know are from the God who says, “I am all you will ever need.” And even if those other ponds dry up – even when God’s good gifts are taken away – you still know that God is your God. You have the source of all good things. You have the fountain of all joy.
As Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Today, we repent. Repent of finding your joy anywhere else but in God. Repent of those idols that give only fleeting joy. Turn back in faith to your God.
Jesus tells the disciples, “You will not see me. You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Remember, your joy and your sorrow is bound up to how it is with Jesus, your God.
Here is how it is with the God who says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” He died for you. He was crucified for every commandment you have failed to keep, for every time you have found false joy in something other than Him.
And now, Jesus takes joy in forgiving you all of your sins, and that forgiveness is unassailable. Jesus now finds His joy in you – in calling you His own. So take your joy in Him. Because He lives and reigns to all eternity, no one and nothing will ever take your joy from you. Amen.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 Thanks to Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller for this analogy.