In John chapters 13-16 Jesus is speaking to his disciples, preparing them for his death, resurrection and ascension back into heaven. No doubt he notices several times during his speech the frowns, scrunched eyebrows and uncertainty on the faces of his men as he explains to them he must leave and they must finish the work.
These disciples were already doing some amazing things on their own. They were preaching, casting out devils and healing the sick; the work was not the issue, it was being without Jesus that was the issue. They loved Jesus, they trusted Jesus and they were constantly learning from him in their day to day walk. They couldn’t stand the thought of being without him. They for so long had walked by sight, that to “walk by faith” scared them to death.
If we were to be honest, we often feel the same way. It is easy when times are good and blessings are abundant and it seems like Christ is sitting right beside you. The fears & sorrow come when we must walk by faith and not by sight. We can write encouraging letters to a brother of sister that is struggling, but we have trouble living that same advice when it is our turn to mourn.
There are three things I would like you to see in this passage of scripture. These are things that Jesus told his disciples in their times of sorrow. Think of this, you’re reading the personal advice of Jesus Christ! You don’t get more spiritual counsel than this.
1. The Present Sorrow: Jesus said “ye now therefore have sorrow” this means that his disciples were currently experiencing thoughts and feelings of sorrow because Jesus said he was going to go back to heaven. Sorrow is an uninvited guest who often shows up unannounced. We don’t usually get a fore-warning of when sorrow is coming to our house, but we always know as soon as he shows up. You will face difficulty in your Christian walk. Jesus said in John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation” not maybe have tribulation, but shall have tribulation. We must understand that God knows our state. He knows every fear and thought in our heart. He knows exactly what we are going through, when we are going through it. He reassures his disciples that he knows when they are in trouble, and what they need from him. Trust that Christ knows your state and will help us in his time.
2. The Promised Rejoicing: Jesus said “your heart shall rejoice” He promises his followers that there will come a time for rejoicing. In John 16:21 Christ uses the picture of a mother giving birth to her child to explain his thought more clearly. The mother does not enjoy the pains of labor but as soon as the baby comes, joy replaces sorrow. She forgets all about the present sorrow she is in and now focuses on her new gift from God. As Christians, we to have a time of promised rejoicing coming, and that is when we see Jesus coming in the clouds to take us to be with him forever in heaven. Whether by grave or rapture, one day I will be with Jesus. GLORY! Jesus speaks these wonderful words, “I will see you again” WOW! How personal is that. Not an angle of heaven or a great hero off the Bible pages will come for us, but Jesus says I will see you again, I will come for you. He wants us to know we are special to him. We are his precious bride that one day he will introduce to his father. We are the apple of his eye and the smile in his thoughts. Keep fighting forward, the beauty of heaven awaits us.
3. The Permanent Joy: “and your joy no man taketh from you.” The joy that Christ gives is permanent. You say “I don’t always feel good” or “I m not always in a happy mood” feelings and situations will change. Whereas happiness is based on our situation, our joy is based on our Savior. Have joy in your salvation, in the fact that because of your relationship with Christ you will never see the flames of Hell. Have joy in heaven that awaits you, the eternal life he gives to you and your saved relatives and friends. Have joy in his daily blessings and provisions…..Through Christ, it is possible to have abiding joy even in the most unfavorable situations. The joy of Christ is rooted deep into the spirit of a believer. It may become obscured by temporary sorrows, but Christ promises that it will always be there and no one can take it from you, NO ONE! Seek this joy now. Ask God to raise it up in you, ask him to renew and restore this blessing inside you. Nehemiah told a tired work crew as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” The joy of Christ will keep you serving, loving, giving and singing long after the strength of your flesh is gone. Your marriage, church and relationships will be more satisfying when you walk in the Joy of Christ. Seek to live in this joy, and remember, it is permanent.
Whenever sorrow comes your way, remember these three things. After all, they are the very advice of Jesus Christ.