Sermon – John 16.16-23 (Easter 4 – 2019)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, of Your fatherly goodness You allow Your children to come under Your chastening rod here on earth, that we might be like Your only-begotten Son in suffering and hereafter in glory: We beseech You, comfort us by Your Holy Spirit in all temptations and afflictions, that we may not fall into despair, but that we may continually trust in Your Son’s promise, that our trials will endure but a little while, and will then be followed by eternal joy; that we thus, in patient hope, may overcome all evil, and at last obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. 

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “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 go to the Father ‘?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says,`A little while ‘? We do not know what He is saying.” 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said,`A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me ‘?

 20 “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. 23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

The Father Chastens His Children

Dear fellow redeemed,

Christ bore His cross, and at the same time the disciples had one to bear, too. But they failed in carrying it. Their Lord was crucified. Their lives were not really safe. They did not bear these troubles with trust in their Lord. They did not heed the words of Jesus, that their sorrow would be only for a little while. They did not look forward to the day soon where their sorrow would turn into joy. Instead they based their outlook of the situation upon their reason and fears.

They didn’t see anything good about Good Friday.

They despaired, having no hope in the saving work of God.

Little did they know that Christ’s death was for their eternal good. He was crucified out of love for them, and they should have found comfort in that love during that little while that Jesus was away.

But in a short little while, on the third day, they saw Jesus again, risen bodily from the grave. And they had joy. They understood afterward the meaning of Jesus’ words. And found strength in them.

Like the disciples, Christians suffer in the world. We don’t have to live long in the world to learn that it is indeed a vale of tears. Consider the nursing home, and with all those years lived there, there are a lot of stories of sadness and difficulty. We have plenty of stories in our own congregation. And you children, if you haven’t learned of the difficulty of life here on earth, the day will come when you will.

God will allow us to suffer through such trouble. What shall we think of it? It is the chastening rod of our Lord. It is the discipline that He gives to us. It would not be accurate to view it as punishment for specific sins that we commit. This is what the friends of Job was trying to convince him of. Rather, God chastises and disciplines us for our good, for the building up of our faith. As I heard one theologian say, God brought Job low, so that He may exalt him very high. And we see what faith God formed in him, for Job in the midst of his suffering was able to confess, “I know that my Redeemer lives.

He chastises us because He loves us. Scripture says, And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb 12:5-7).

Like a parent and child. A child not only learns of the parent’s love through affection, but also through discipline. Rules and loving discipline teach the child that the parent cares for their safety and wellbeing.

God’s chastens us that we may acknowledge our weakness, our sin, and go to His Word of forgiveness and comfort, to pray to Him, and rely upon Him and His loving care.

But as we endure the Lord’s chastening, as we go through the little while when we are weeping and lamenting, we don’t always do so well to remember God’s love. The devil tempts us to sin in the midst of our trouble. On the one hand we may grow bitter. We get angry with God, thinking that God has unfairly dealt us a bad hand. We think we know better than Him, not submitting to His wisdom and His chastening rod, but developing an attitude of resentment and bitterness toward God, and perhaps toward others. On the other hand, in suffering we may fall into doubt and despair. And this seems to be more of what the disciples were experiencing. You do not see God’s love and care. You do not go to Him in prayer, seeking help and comfort. You do not go to Scripture to be reminded of the promises of His love and the joy that will follow in a little while. And sometimes, in the midst of suffering, you go through both of these in one day.

But God is gracious. After seeing the doubt and despair of the disciples, He didn’t turn His back on them. Rather, Jesus still sought them out and appeared to them to bring them joy and comfort. So also, God still loves you, and desires you to have the grace of His Word, that you may have comfort and joy.

There you see Christ who bore the Father’s chastening rod. In fact, there on the cross, it wasn’t just the loving discipline that Jesus received, but Jesus received the Father’s just wrath and hatred of wickedness, our wickedness. And Jesus willingly endured it, never doubting, never having bitterness toward His enemies or towards the Father. He as the perfect Son of God, is the only one who could say that this was unfair. But He perfectly submitted to His Father’s will, fully trusted in Him, endured the suffering, showed love to His enemies. His perfection is yours. And His suffering removes from you your sins of bitterness, doubt and despair. You are forgiven. You are clothed in His righteousness.

In God’s holy Word, you have this comfort and joy of God’s love from which you cannot be separated, and the free forgiveness and righteousness He has for you!

And you also have the joy and comfort that the Lord’s chastisement is only for a little while. Jesus is risen, and thus you know how it ends. The Lord chastises you so that in your suffering, you may be joined to Christ and His cross and suffering, so that you may share in His victory and eternal life in glory!

And this is a joy that you may have even now as you wait for a little while until you receive relief and eventually into glory!

In Acts we read the example of Paul and Barnabas preaching in Antioch. The Gentiles in the city heard the their preaching and received it with joy! But the Jews were jealous. They opposed and contradicted their preaching. They “stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” What then did Paul and Barnabas do? Scripture says, “They shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” They had joy in the midst of their troubles.

So also for us, even when the sufferings and troubles of this life bring us weeping and lamenting, we at the same time may have joy. The devil will use our sufferings against us. But Christ has won the victory over the devil and over death. For Christ’s sake the Father loves you, His baptized. He keeps you, is with you, and sustains you until you enter into glory. Turn to these promises of His Word, trust in His infinite wisdom, and call upon Him in prayer.

And thus through His chastening rod, and the work of the Holy Spirit, He refines your faith, and carves you into beautiful living stones.

God’s good and gracious will be done, even if it is done through suffering. By the comfort of His forgiveness and the joy of His victorious resurrection, may He give us courage and joy to meet these troubles, until we leave them behind to behold our gracious Lord in His glory! Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.

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