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.
These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
The fruits of the cross, Christ and ours
Dear fellow redeemed,
After crossing the Red Sea, God led Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness for three days. There was no water to be seen those three days, but when they arrived in Marah, they found water, but they could not drink the water because the water was too bitter.
This is a picture of the Christian’s life in this world. We travel in the wilderness of this world and we sometimes have nothing but the bitter drink from the Lord’s cup of cross and tribulation.
But God does not leave us alone to drink the cup but He helps us in and through our time of need.
He helped Moses and the Israelites in Marah. He showed Moses a tree and told Moses to throw it into the water. Moses did so and the water became sweet and drinkable. In the same way, God has set before us in the midst of the bitter water, the Tree of Life, that is, Christ in His Word. Through Christ in His Word, our cross becomes light and sweet. This is a reminder that the Lord is our constant companion as we bear our cross.
And furthermore, after leaving Marah, the Israelites came to Elim where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. This is a reminder for us that after we drink the bitter water of this world, we shall then enter into the presence of our gracious Savior, standing before His glorious throne with palm branches in our hands.
With our eyes looking forward to the glory that awaits us, we consider today the cross that we bear in this wilderness.
The cross is unavoidable for those who are in Christ Jesus. His cup of suffering which He foretold came to pass in His beatings, sufferings and death. So also He says that His disciples “will weep and lament.” And this does come to pass for us as well as it did for the Twelve. Paul likewise said, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Just as Christ, our Lord, suffered in this wilderness, so also shall we who are His disciples suffer with Him.
But these crosses are quite fruitful for us. Obviously, the cross of Christ, has tremendous results for us, namely the forgiveness of all our sins, eternal salvation.
But our crosses are beneficial for us as well. So how should we consider our crosses, our troubles, and trials and struggles in life, especially those troubles that we endure for the sake of our Christian faith? How should we understand our crosses?
First of all, like the pains of childbirth bring forth new life, our crosses in life assist in bringing forth our daily renewal of the new life in Christ that leads to eternal life. Our rebirth takes place only by the powerful gospel of Christ. However, our crosses and tribulations are teachers of faith, and they establish us more firmly in that regenerating gospel of Christ. In your trials, find your hope and comfort in the gospel of Christ. A trial that doesn’t lead you there is a trial that is wasted. St. Peter said that God gives you trials in order that “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pe 1:7).
Secondly, tribulation and cross benefits us by preaching to us about sin and God’s wrath against sin. Often when things are going well, we have a tendency to forget the weakness of our flesh, and the helplessness of our nature, because of our sin. But just as the great pains of childbirth are a reminder of the curse that came to the world because of the fall into sin, so also the difficulty of our cross is a reminder of our sins. When we bear our cross, we confess like the thief on the cross, “we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong” (Lk 23:41) Christ was the innocent one. He was perfect. We are the ones worthy of the cross.
And so let the tribulation and cross in your lives bring you to your knees in humble repentance before the grace and forgiveness of God. We are reminded that our sins are real, and also that the sin cancelling cross of our Savior was real. And in Him, we find perfect forgiveness and salvation from our sin.
Third, tribulation and cross benefits us helping us become more Christlike. We as believers are “as living stones being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) Like stones in a house must be chiseled and formed for construction, so also, the cross and trouble chisels us, cleanses and polishes us so as to increase in us the fruits of the Spirit, such as patience, faithfulness, humility, gentleness, kindness and so on. Therefore, we must fight against bitterness that might arise in our hearts, look to the trustworthiness and love of our Lord, and by His gospel He causes us to grow in holiness, in the likeness of our Savior.
Fourthly, tribulation and cross cause us to cry out to God, to pray to Him more fervently, as we should always do. God is our loving Father; He commands us to pray, and He graciously receives our prayers and answers them according to His loving will toward us, His redeemed.
Finally, the bitter cross that we must carry in this wilderness draws our hearts and minds to the life to come. In good days, the thoughts of our hearts easily dwell on things of this world, and we cling to the temporal, the worldly things in our hearts. But our crosses teach our hearts to cling to that which is above, that which is better and more glorious, the heavenly blessings that we have because of Christ’s cross.
Certainly the cross, troubles and tribulations we have in life have benefits for us.
God gives us crosses and tribulations for our own good. As Christ always had matters in hand with His own cross, willingly giving up His own life, so also does Christ have matters in hand with your crosses. Your crosses come from the good and gracious God who loves you, and who gave up His own Son so that you may be saved. He knows what is best for us. He makes an exact assessment as to how much He wants to lay upon us, and He gives us our cross, the bitter cup for us to drink.
And so we receive our crosses in faith and patience, and in doing so, it becomes a blessed and godly cross.
And God is also beside us constantly with comfort and help. He is with us in His Word and Sacraments.
And God would have you remember the comparison between the cross and childbirth. The pains of child birth are only for a little while. But after the birth of a child the pains become an afterthought and the joys take hold.
Likewise, the disciples’ trial and sorrow during Jesus suffering and death were only short-lived. When Christ, their Lord, appeared to them on the third day, joy took over them. Jesus said to them, “No one will take your joy from you.”
Our sufferings and sorrows and burdens are only for a little while. They will soon give way to perfect joy. For as Paul says, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18).
We have this joy and hope in the midst of our bitter cup and our cross: the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through His Word and Sacrament, the blessings of Christ’s cross are yours. You are forgiven of all your sins by His blood. You are a child of God. You are heirs of the life to come.
Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Here in Word and Sacrament, we find our Christ, our Sabbath rest. Here is our one resting spot in this wilderness of the world. Here we have a foretaste, of the joys that are to come, where “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 7:15-17).
“No one will take your joy from you.” May God bless each of you by your cross, that you may ever more be closely joined to Christ’s cross, through Word and Sacrament, that you may have joy in His resurrection all your days, until you are finally gathered to His heavenly throne. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.