“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. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (Jn 16:16-24)
“No one will take your joy from you.” The Christian life is one of joy, because Jesus has risen. Joy. This doesn’t mean that Christians walk around with a smile on their face every moment of the day. I’m suspicious of people like that. It isn’t that they deny reality, or don’t feel sorrow and remain unconcerned about the cares and anxieties of this world. It certainly doesn’t mean that no tears are shed at a funeral. What kind of a heartless people would we be? This isn’t about stoicism.
No, Jesus knows sorrows will come. He understands that the world will rejoice with schadenfreude and the disciples will have plenty of occasion for sorrow. But this will be turned to joy, and this joy will not be taken from them. Jesus is risen.
Of course, he had to die first. There was sorrow, anguish, worry and fear. And then Jesus came back, he rose from the dead. He spoke with them, ate with them, fished with them, and let them tough his wounds. He was a live. Then they understood. This world couldn’t touch them. Death was the worst it could bring and Jesus had conquered death. Jesus gives life, and life eternal. This is our joy. It is a joy that remains through good times and bad, through jubilation and sorrow. It is a joy that remains despite the sadness of losing a beloved friend or a loved one to this world. Because we remain in this world, and it is hard to say good bye when you know you will not see your friends and family for a long time. But there is joy because we know that they are with Christ, and Christ is living and has given us the same life he gives them. He rose from the dead and conquered death for you and I. He is our Lord, he is our savior. He rules even over our hearts with the forgiveness of sins, giving us faith to believe in his death and resurrection, and with that comes joy.