Fourth Sunday of Easter
 "A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me."  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'?"  So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about."  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'?  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.  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.  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. John 16:16-22 (ESV)
“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…. 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.” No one will take your joy from you.
Jesus is trying to break his disciples in for his death and resurrection. In a little while Jesus will go to Jerusalem, in a little while he will be crucified, die and be buried. The world will rejoice, the disciples will weep and lament as he lies in the tomb. The world and all those who crucified him will rejoice thinking they have finally done away with the neissance of Jesus Christ, a nuissance that would come back in 3 days to haunt them for all eternity. Yes then the sorrow of the disciples would be turned to joy, joy that cannot be taken away as long as Jesus is risen from the dead.
Oh, the disciples had some anguish, the disciples knew sad times as reports reached them of the death of their brothers in different corners of the world. As Roman authorities, the same ones they instructed their followers to obey in our epistle lesson today, bore down on them with punishment for not worshiping the emperor and constantly speaking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Romans tried in vain to put an end to the joy of the disciples and failed miserably. The disciples knew that Jesus had risen from the dead, and as long as that was known, known also was that they had life in him. They would not bend, they would not stop proclaiming the truth. They would not let this world get in the way of their salvation, they would hold to Jesus Christ with joy and tenacity.
No one will take your joy from you. What he says to the disciples is true of us also, for our joy is grounded in the same event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Joy, funny that it is joy that Jesus says should characterize his disciples. It isn’t so funny when you consider the implications of the resurrection. Why shouldn’t joy be that emotion that characterizes us? Jesus died for our sins, rose for our justification. Jesus lives, so then so do we! Jesus lives and we have life in his life. Jesus lives then so do all those in life we have lost, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, husbands and wives, children baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. They live! He is Risen!
He is risen, so we will rise!
But it is a bit ironic, because today it seems the disciples of Jesus have a bigger reputation for being killjoys then they do for being joyful. This problem is exacerbated in Utah by false disciples who try to claim the name Jesus, and yet slander him with every word they speak in his name. They so corrupt the name of Jesus that hurting sinners can’t bear to hear it. Yet they are not alone in this. I could tell you horror stories of “Lutheran” “sermons” that do just as good a job turning Jesus into a new law giver. In fact I heard one delivered in a day school chapel earlier this week. I was absolutely horrified, and felt sorry for the poor little children subjected to it. Jesus died for their sins too!
And that seems to be the problem. We are afraid if we teach the forgiveness of sins and justification by faith alone we will train our children to be adulterous drunkards when they grow up. We don’t need to train them for that. But if you think that the forgiveness of sins and justification by grace through faith is responsible for that kind of thing, I have news for you. Jesus died even for those sins, and he rose to justify even those sinners, and I mean it when I say thank God, because if he hadn’t we would have no reason for Joy, no reason to believe, no standing with which to be here. And knowing that grace, and the joy that such love for life brings does more to curb such behavior than the worst of hell fire and brimstone sermons have ever thought of. Find the most legalistic church body in the world, I’ll show you a congregation full of adulterous drunkards, who also despair, the despair just drives them back to adultery and drunkenness, and those are the fortunate ones. The others are so full of self righteous hypocrisy they don’t think they need the gospel at all.
But Jesus gives us a joy that survives all the highs and lows of life. For whether in want or plenty. Whether the day has gone well or bad. A lousy job, or a job you love, Jesus lives, and so do we. Jesus has secured for us life beyond measure, and a joy that will remain as long as his word remains that says, your sins are forgiven. He is Risen!