Sorrow & Joy - John 16:16-33

Skye Jethani tells a story about going to see The Passion of the Christ with two friends. After seeing the film, each of his friends responded in different ways. One said, “I can’t believe that Jesus went through that on my behalf.” The other friend said, “I can’t believe Jesus went through all that so I don’t have to.” There’s a subtle but important distinction to be made between these two statements. While it’s true that we no longer have to pay the penalty for our sins, the second statement suggests that because Jesus suffered for us, we no longer have to. Yet much of what we’ve studied in Jesus’ farewell discourse begs to differ. Some of the same themes continue in John 16:16-33.

In verses 16-24, Jesus speaks of the sorrow his disciples are about to experience. The language is intentionally murky here begging the question of if Jesus is referring to the sorrow they will go through because of his crucifixion or the sorrows they will experience in life beyond his resurrection and ascension. Many scholars suggest that Jesus is referring to both realities at once. The disciples will surely experience anguish at seeing their Rabbi executed, but they will experience trials after his ascension as well. Sorrow is part of life in this broken world. Jesus ends his discourse by summarizing this reality, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

But sorrow and tribulation aren’t the only things that Jesus addresses in this section of his discourse. He also speaks a great deal of joy:

“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 to 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 16:20-22

Once again, we see Jesus referring to two things at once: the sorrow of the crucifixion followed by the joy of the resurrection and the sorrows of life followed by the joy at Christ’s return. The truth is that Jesus did not die in order to give us a shot at “the good life.” He had something much bigger and better in mind, the joy of eternity with God lived out in a completely renewed creation. This is what Jesus meant when he said in verse 33, “I have overcome the world.” The end is assured.
The whole reason Jesus said all these things is revealed one line earlier in verse 33. Jesus speaks plainly to his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me, you may have peace.” Jesus knew we would face trial, pain, and suffering. In fact, he calls us into a life in which we “take up our cross” daily to follow him. As we’ve seen repeatedly, Jesus calls those who would follow to a life of sacrifice on behalf of those in need, even a life of dying for our enemies. What makes such a radical way of life possible is that we will see Jesus again and live life eternal.

Imagine the incredible joy experienced by the disciples when Jesus appeared to them after the crucifixion in the upper room. Now, imagine that joy multiplied to an infinite degree when we see him return in the clouds to bring justice and righteousness and restoration to all creation. This is exactly the reason we can have peace in trial, tribulation, and sacrificial living.

As Paul says in Romans,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption… For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved…

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
 we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:18-24a, 31-39

Missions Spotlight:
Jennifer Marmolejos (YoungLife)

CAMP FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE YOU!
DO YOU need any babysitters? yard work helpers? moving helpers? organizing help?? WE HAVE HELPERS!
We have 8 high schoolers who want to find ways to fundraise for camp and YOU can be a part of that.

Please reach out to me if you have a need and would love to recruit some young folks. Email info@gfcnj.com for my information.

This is all donation based and will go towards that kids' camp costs.
More hands make the load less for any work. ;)

PLEASE PRAY WITH US!
We are expecting to go back to HOST HOMES this month! We are so grateful for Evangel Chapel in Bridgewater and Calvary Bible Church in Whitehouse for hosting our in person BR Wyldlife and Young Life gatherings during the cold weather.

FOR CAMP FUNDRAISERS! for God to provide camp fundraising opportunties / the funds to reduce some camp costs.

Somerville Young Life Dessert Night on Wednesday, June 9th. Somerville YL is in the works, only by the grace of God! Please pray for more connections to local adults. We want to reach students at Somerville HS for the sake of the Gospel and I believe Young Life in that community would be a game changer.

Click here for more on Jen's ministry with Bridgewater Raritan YoungLife
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