Second Sunday in Lent – Sunday
Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. – John 16:20.
In that night of parting, Jesus said to His disciples: “A little while, and ye shall not see Me, and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16). Then said some of His disciples among themselves: “What is this that He saith unto us: ‘A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, and, because I go to the Father?’” (v. 17). They said therefore: “What is this that He saith: ‘A little while?’ We cannot tell what He saith” (v. 18). Now Jesus knew that they were desirous of asking Him, and He said unto them: “Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said: ‘A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me?’ Verily, verily, I say unto you: That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing” (John 16:19-23).
When Jesus suffered and died, the unbelieving multitude of the Jews rejoiced, for they thought that now there was an end of Him. And the disciples’ faith in their beloved Lord collapsed like a dying fire, and they wept and lamented in great sorrow. But when the risen One came to them, and even more, when the Holy Spirit gave them the true and full knowledge of Christ, their sorrow was turned into joy, into joy which no man and nothing could take from them. And no anxious questions disturbed them anymore.
The Lord permits the world to try us and to persecute us only for “a little while” because He wants us to grow in our experience and in our correct use of His Gospel for comfort in our afflictions. St. Paul wrote to the Romans that, having been justified by faith in our crucified and risen Savior, who turned our sorrow into joy, “we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).
With Christ, His suffering and death seemed like it could be nothing but a sorrowful event. But, by His resurrection, He demonstrated how we can glory in the image of His cross. With us, our temporary suffering from those worldly people who despise us the way they despised our Lord, might seem like it can only be a sad thing. But, when we suffer for righteousness’ sake, we can take that as a token of our salvation, namely, that we are being given the same treatment as our Savior.
What a privilege to be able to suffer for Him who perfectly suffered for us, paying the perfect ransom to God for us and for the whole world, giving us the priceless gift of forgiveness for our sins and forgiveness for the whole “world” of sinners (II Corinthians 5:19).
PRAYER – Lord God, Holy Ghost, continue to enlighten me more and more through Thy holy Word, that I may grow in my knowledge of Christ, my Savior, rejoice in Him greatly, and be abundantly satisfied in such knowledge, who, with the Father and the Son, live and reign, true God, in all eternity. Amen.
“Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near, with His cheer; never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven,
that God’s Son, for my own, to my faith hath given?
Thou art mine; I love and own Thee.
Light of joy, ne’er shall I from my heart dethrone Thee.
Savior, let me soon behold Thee,
face to face, may Thy grace, evermore enfold me!”
Hymn 523, vv. 1, 8 (TLH)