‘The Harvest is Plentiful”

Posted on 09 May 2020

John 16:16-22

In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.

There are times when you simply can not see past the pain or the loss or the disappointments of living in a broken sin damaged world.    For all of you that have had your prom canceled, your graduation postponed or rescheduled to a Zoom room, I’m sorry that you have been robbed of that celebration.  That really stinks. 

For our friends in Black Hawk that are exiled from their homes because of an abandoned mine and sinkhole. I’m sorry that your family haven is no longer safe to live in.  That’s heartbreaking.      

For all of you having to deal with Cancer or sickness and the unknown that it brings, I’m sorry that your future has been hijacked by sickness.   

Here is the hard truth.   Living in this broken world places all of us in the path of sorrow.  If not now, soon.   No one escapes suffering in our world.   Sometimes its brought on by things completely out of our control.  Like an undercooked bat halfway around the world, or a sinkhole from a mine made decades ago. Disease has picked your genes for no reason at all. 

Sometimes we create the suffering.  Texting and driving, drinking and driving, bring distraction and death.  Anger, refusal to forgive, selfishness all create their own swamp of suffering. 

In the Gospel reading for this morning, Jesus is warning, or preparing the disciples for suffering.  He is getting them ready for His arrest, His beating, His betrayal by Peter and Judas.  Jesus’ crucifixion will end in His death and burial. Not only will Jesus suffer but His friends, disciples, and family will also.  

Jesus says to His disciples “A little while, and you will see me no longer”. When Jesus tells them that, they really don’t have a clue what it means.  So He explains it further.  20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful

That is the reality before them.  “You will be sorrowful”.  They will watch Jesus be arrested.  They will run and hide in fear.  They will suffer because they saved themselves and abandoned Jesus.

Peter will have to deal with his undeniable betrayal. Thomas abandons the disciples trying to process everything,….. and Judas overcome with grief kills himself. 

When they look at the outside world the reaction is quite different.   The Chief priest, Pontius Pilate, the Roman guards all relieved that this troublemaker is dead and things will finally get back to normal. 

 

If Jesus’ words “You will be sorrowful” are all we had this world would be quite a depressing place.  But that is only part of the Gospel for today.   Jesus did not sugar coat the truth.  The reality is there will be suffering in your life.   There will be times you will not be able to see the hope we have because the storm clouds are just too think. 

Those times will pass.  Jesus told His disciples,   “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Imagine the hope that broke into the disciple’s sorrow when the Risen Jesus in His Glorified Body appeared in the room with them and said: “Peace be with you”!  At first, I am sure they thought they were delusional.  Who is this?  It looks like Jesus, but I know He was dead and buried. 

Then hope began to open their eyes.  Faith began to push out sorrow.  It is,…   It really is Jesus.  Death did not beat Him.  The grave did not stop Him.  He stands in front of them not as a ghost or a vision but as a real living breathing flesh and blood Savior who bring peace and hope to pull them from their sorrow. 

Jesus intentionally goes to Peter so he hears Jesus forgive him.  Sorrow and disappointment give way to Joy in Jesus!

Jesus says to Thomas who had given up.  Thomas put your hands in my hands.  Put your hand in my side.  Leave the sorrow and the unbelief behind and believe.  Grief, disappointment, and unbelief give way to Joy and hope in Jesus! 

Even in the midst of the deepest sorrow of death, Jesus brings Joy!   The Angles said to the women.  “You look for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here.  He is risen!  Death could not hold Jesus. And death will not hold those who believe in Him. 

Lazarus, Mary, and Martha’s brother and Jesus’ good friend is dead and in the grave. All hope was lost and sorrow was everywhere, but only until Jesus arrived.   With one command, “Lazarus come out”! …and death could not hold Lazarus.  Death and sorrow and mourning all give way to Joy and hope. 

 

Dear Child of God you will have suffering in your life,…….. and you don’t have to like it.  Sometimes we hear people say that the Cancer or the Corona or the Car accident is a gift from God.   Can God work good in the things that cause us sorrow?  Certainly, He can and does.  But these things are the reality of sin and a broken world.   That is not what God intended.

It is OK to be angry because your celebrations this spring have been canceled.  It’s OK to be afraid of what this virus could do to you or your loved one.  Facing our sorrow and suffering through the cross of Christ lets us be honest about what we are feeling.  Sometimes life stinks, and we really have trouble seeing past that.

That is the very reason Jesus went to the cross.  He suffered for us, but He also suffers with us.  The anger the fear, the loss, and resentment of terrible sorrow of this world is why Jesus suffered on the cross for you.   He paid the price for those things to bring you through your suffering and give you joy and hope.  Don’t ever forget what Jesus said. your sorrow will turn into joy.  That is a promise from Jesus to you. 

 

Sometimes in the midst of suffering all we have to hold on to are the promised given to us by Jesus. But dear Child of God that is enough.  Think about all the suffering in your life right now.   COVID 19, isolation from all your friends.  Laid off from your job, or maybe your job eliminated.  Bills mounting, fears growing,  and things I can’t even imagine.

Can any of that put Jesus back in the tomb?  

Can any of the sufferings you are going through change the reality that Jesus burst forth from deaths grasp with life and peace and hope for you?  

Can any of the momentary sufferings of this world take the sins Jesus paid for and condemn you again with them?   No, they can’t.  You are forgiven!  And through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is always hope for you.  Even if you can’t see it and don’t feel it now.

Jesus told his soon suffering Disciples: 22So also you have sorrow now.  We live in that reality too.  But listen to the rest of what Jesus said. “ But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” 

All suffering has its season, like a woman giving birth.  In the midst of 24 hours of labor she may not be able to see the joy of the child that will soon be born.  But when the child is born, overwhelming joy as she holds this gift from God.

There is nothing like Easter Sunday Joy when I say “Christ is Risen!”  and you respond. “He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!”  It’s easy to see Jesus our hope and joy that day. 

It’s more challenging at the funeral of your spouse when we end the funeral service with the same proclamation.  But the promise is the same.  Christ is still risen.  Sins are still forgiven.  Jesus’ promises to you are still valid because they don’t depend on you seeing or feeling them.  They depend on Jesus doing what He promised His Father He would do.   Suffering, dying, rising, and bringing joy and hope to you dear Child of God.

 

In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.