Beloved. As has been the case with most Sunday’s since Lent, this Sunday gets its name from the first Latin word of the Introit. Today is called “Jubilate” which comes to us from Psalm 66: Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! What a fitting Easter psalm as the psalmist calls on all creation to join us in praising our Lord for His glorious work for us and undoing the results/ effects of sin. So great is Jesus’ work! So great and glorious is His resurrection that all creation benefits and is called upon and invited to join us and to praise Him for it! The psalm gives us the word of praise to praise our Lord with: Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.—And here is the greatness of Easter: by His almighty divine power Jesus rose from the dead as Conqueror of sin, death, devil and hell. The words of praise to the Lord continue in the psalm: All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.” That’s the theme of Easter for us and for all creation—praising the Lord for His Easter morning resurrection victory for us. Our spiritual enemies are conquered; through faith in Jesus His victory is also our victory.
But let us, though, not forget/ overlook the fact that this is a command; it is something we are told/ commanded to do: Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! What does that mean but that we may not always be doing it; we may not always be joining our fellow Christians and the whole creation in making a joyful shout to God. We need to be reminded and woken up to the fact that God’s works are awesome; that Through the greatness of [His] power [His] enemies shall [and have] submit[/ted] themselves to [Him]. And why? We may not always recognize and feel it because we may be feeling the guilt of our sin, because we still feel the separation from God that our sin brings about. And we may need to be reminded to make a joyful shout to God because we are in some kind of sorrow and in the midst of some sort of suffering and trial. Precisely when we are in sorrow and suffering it is hard to think of Jesus’ Easter morning resurrection and the defeat of our spiritual enemies. That’s why we need the command Make a joyful shout to God in spite of what we are suffering and to spite the devil who at the root of our suffering. We need the command make a joyful shout to God to remind us that although it may not look like it and although we may not feel it, Jesus’ resurrection victory is ours through faith in Him. We have every cause and reason to make a joyful shout to God no matter how or what we are feeling or experiencing because Jesus’ Easter morning resurrection victory stands firm! Nothing undoes it/ over turns it!
What is so glorious for us is that our Christian faith is not some “pie-in-the-sky” thought or philosophy with no bearing on life here and now. And our Christian faith is not merely some “earthly-minded” thought or philosophy that doesn’t direct and point us heavenward. Instead, what our Christian faith does, is give us comfort and peace here on earth—and precisely as we are in the midst of sorrows —as it directs our heart and gaze heavenward to the true God, to heaven to eternity. What does that mean for us as we are in the midst of struggle and sorrow? Our Christian faith and Easter do not “take away” our sorrows and sufferings; we don’t “forget” our sufferings because of Easter but we see them in a new light—in the light of Jesus’ victory for us over our spiritual enemies.
The simple fact of the matter is that, yes, our sufferings and sorrows are real. No one is spared them. Think back to Jesus in our text. He spoke these words to His disciples on Maundy Thursday evening, Judas was in the act of betraying Jesus; it was just hours before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, and soon after that He was put on trial, beaten, whipped, crucified. That was real suffering! It’s just not the physical suffering that Jesus endured but what made His suffering so horrid was that it was the suffering the wrath and punishment of God for the sin of the world. Because Jesus is true God, He knew what He would suffer; He knew the depth of what He would have to suffer to pay the price for the sins of the whole world—yours and mine. That’s why He prayed in such agony in Gethsemane with bloody sweat that if there was another way the world could be saved from sin that He could be spared what He was about to endure. Of course, there wasn’t. Jesus endured real sorrow and suffering—far beyond what we can ever imagine—in this world.
The disciples, too, endured their share of sorrow and sufferings. That’s what Jesus warns them about in our text: Amen, Amen, I tell you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful... Jesus warns them about the time of His arrest, death and burial. It will look as if Jesus really is dead and gone as Jesus is taken off the cross and placed in the tomb; it will look as if all this was a lie/ fraud. The disciples would weep and wail and be sorrowful. On Easter Sunday evening, we find them huddled together in fear, despondent and confused. That is true sorrow and suffering.
We too, in our lives, face our times of sorrow and suffering, of fear, anxiety and confusion; times when we don’t know what to do or where to turn. They are real. We endure and suffer through them. But in the midst of them let us hear: Make a joyful shout to God. And here, instead of dwelling on our sorrows, we hear the command and praise the Lord in the midst of our sorrows and sufferings. How can we do that? Looking at Easter; looking at Jesus’ empty tomb.
Does that take away the sorrow and what we are suffering? No. We don’t “forget” the sufferings; we still endure them but we see them in a whole new way—we see them in the light of Jesus’ Easter morning resurrection victory. We no longer see our sorrows and sufferings as sorrows and sufferings to be avoided and mourned; instead, we see that Jesus has conquered for us our spiritual enemies—He rose from the dead having destroyed sin, death, devil and hell. With His resurrection, we see that the Father accepted His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world; we see that in Jesus, we sinners are reconciled to the holy God and that He is our dear loving heavenly Father. And since God is our dear loving heavenly Father, and we are now reconciled to Him in Jesus as our sins are forgiven us and since our spiritual enemies have all be conquered—how do we then see our sufferings and sorrows? Yes, we suffer them, but we see them in a different light. We see them as ways that our gracious heavenly Father is using for our spiritual good to keep us close to Him, to purge out our sin more and more and ultimately to use to bring us home to Him.
Because of Easter, we know that our sorrows and sufferings are not God’s punishing His dear Christian since His wrath has already been poured out on Jesus. Because of Easter, we know that our sorrows and sufferings are not because God hates us, since Easter shows that we are reconciled to God and His dear children. And on the flip-side, because of Easter we know that our sorrows and sufferings are not because God cannot stop the devil and his allies from doing their worst on us, since Jesus defeated them.
What, then, are we to make of our trials and sufferings? We get a bit of an insight in our text when Jesus says: Amen, Amen, I tell you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. What makes the unbelieving world happy fills the Christian with deep sorrow; and obviously the opposite is true as well: what makes the Christian happy, fills the unbelieving world with deepest sorrow. The point is this: that our trials and sufferings fill us with such sorrow is pointing us to realize that we don’t really have an idea of what should make us happy; instead, we still have clinging to us the world’s idea of what should make us happy. The world says if you are healthy, wealthy and wise then you are happy; if everything goes your way, then you are happy. But this rejoicing of the world is really poor and unsatisfying. After all, how often do we see or hear of people who seeming “have it all” and yet are miserable?
The world says that sorrow and suffering are to be avoided at all cost; sorrow and suffering makes us miserable. But remember, as Christians, we see everything differently in light of the resurrection. We know that we are in our Lord’s gracious loving and victorious hands and as St. Paul writes [Rm. 8.39]: [Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That means that if the Lord does, in fact, send us health, wealth and wisdom, we take it from His hands in thanksgiving knowing that God knows that that is best for us. If we receive nothing but sorrow and trial, we, too, receive that from the Lord’s hands in the full knowledge and joy that He knows that that is best for us. Why? We see our sufferings in light of Jesus’ resurrection victory for as His dear Christians; in the joy of faith which cannot be taken away, we see a greater good for us from God.
Remember, Jesus told His disciples—and us—the words of our text for their comfort and to cheer them—and us. “In a little while you are not going to see me anymore, and again in a little while you will see me, because I am going away to the Father.” Therefore some of his disciples asked one another, “What does he mean when he tells us, ‘In a little while you are not going to see me, and again in a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” Here is the reason for our joy—a joy that cannot be taken away. It is this joy that gives us strength in our trials, sorrows, and sufferings. With His resurrection and again in a little while you will see me and then His ascension I am going away to the Father, Jesus has begun His reign. He entered it through His suffering and death; and with His resurrection—and notice: it was a little while until the power of hell and death were broken—Jesus conquered our spiritual enemies. And now as almighty King He sends the Holy Spirit to strengthen, guide and govern us precisely in the midst of our sorrows and sufferings. Again St. Paul writes [Rm. 5.3-5]: we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Together with the disciples we have Jesus’ promise in our text: So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Jesus, our risen and ascended Lord comes to us with the Holy Spirit and reveals the glory of salvation into our hearts—that very salvation Jesus won by His suffering and death and rose again as Conqueror of our spiritual enemies. Now by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we know Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. This fills us with joy—joy in the midst of our sorrows and sufferings. Yes, the devil and world will assault us and will cause us much sorrow and suffering but Jesus’ resurrection has changed everything! We now know in the certainty of faith that because of Jesus God is gracious and merciful to us and forgives. We now know that because of Easter the devil is a defeated enemy and the sorrows and trials he works are merely only what God allows and uses to bring us to heaven. Easter has changed everything! Our sorrows and sufferings are real, but we have a joy that cannot be taken away—Jesus rose from the dead, He is our Savior. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. INJ Amen