Third Sunday after Easter Sermon B
The Saviour speaks in today's Gospel of that new birth which must happen to the disciples through the Saviour's death. He takes a parable from natural birth and says, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come." John 16:21
We see from all aspects of the matter that the sorrow and pain of heart, through which the new man is born, had not then yet happened, although some imagine that the disciples had living faith already then, when they confessed their faith that Jesus was the Son of God. But all baptised heathens can confess this, that Jesus is the Son of God, and especially such who have dead faith in the skull. But they are probably few who have wept and lamented because of the pain of new birth, as did the disciples. Jesus said, "Ye shall weep and lament." Jesus has not spoken, nor is it mentioned in any place, that the disciples would have had sorrow of penitence before Jesus died. And how can a person be reborn and come into living faith without sorrow? But that sorrow which is according to the mind of God came to the disciples after the Saviour´s death: then they wept and lamented when the visible Saviour died. And so it must happen to all who intend to become Christian; they must weep and lament, or be in the right sorrow of penitence before they can be reborn. For without the right spiritual sorrow, no one can come into living faith. This the Saviour indicates when He says, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow!" A woman has great pain because of giving births this all true disciples of Jesus have felt. Surely the old man must have pain when the new man must be born, but some have greater and some have less pain; nevertheless there must be pain, otherwise no one could give birth. And when the Saviour Himself has taken an example from a woman's pain, then it can be seen that this pain will not be light; surely such pain must be felt, otherwise birth would not take place. But because the disciples now weep and lament, "Then the world rejoices," And it has been seen in all places where the disciples of Jesus weep and lament: there the children of the world rejoice; they ridicule and laugh when they see Jesus´ disciples weeping and lamenting. But who knows what will finally follow such ridiculing and laughing? Who knows if eternal weeping and lamenting will not finally follow for the scoffers and laughing men? Jesus has, however, promised the sorrowful disciples that their "Sorrow shall be turned into joy," What do you think, you scoffers? Do you think that your joy will last in death and in hell? Do you imagine that you will be able to ridicule any more when you see yourselves in destruction and Jesus´sorrowful disciples rejoicing in the Kingdom of Heaven? Then the scoffers´ laughter and jesting will end. but the sorrow of the mournful disciples will be turned into joy, nor will anyone take their joy away. If someone would ridicule one woman who is in pains of birth, then all people would say that such a scoffer is of his father the devil. But he who ridicules a penitent scul who cries out in pains of birth is even more terrible: he is just a disciple of the black spirit. Nevertheless, the spirits of darkness are yet able to ridicule, but who knows how long they will ridicule before weeping and lamenting begin. For when Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice," then it is to be surmised that the world is joyous and laughs when the disciples of Jesus weep.
This has happened already then, nor have those that have come after taken heed that things have gone wrong for those former scoffers already in this life, when the enemy came with a sword upon their necks and shed their blood. The sorrow of the disciples has been placed upon them by God and it is very necessary for them, for without this sorrow the new man will not become born; as a woman cannot give birth without pain, so also new birth cannot take place without pain. It has so happened because of sin, for God said to the woman soon after the fall into sin: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children," (Genesis 3:16) This natural pain has come upon the woman because of sin, as also spiritual pain, when a person is in pains of conscience or new birth, is unavoidably one punishment for sin. But the devil does not effect that, as some spiritual quacks imagine that pain of conscience is from the devil. But it is an effect of the Holy Spirit, it is one spiritual chastisement through which the Heavenly Parent wants to call His children back from the broad road of destruction. It is the chastisement of the Father and without this chastisement no one can become humble before God. But all do not receive the Father's chastisement although some are whipped and chastised; they are, nevertheless, proud and ill-behaved. Spiritual sorrow has not been able to so humble them under the mighty hand of God that they would become truly humble and broken before Him; for if they at times weep and lament-then again after a short time they are in pride. Some children are so ill-behaved that they will not receive chastisement no matter how often they would be chastised. Oh, how difficult it is for the Parent to chastise such children who will not receive chastisements; However, it is our hope and confidence in God that as long as the children are so small that they fit into the Parent's lap, they will weep every time that the Parent switches them and will hasten again to the Parent's lap although they have been switched. But when the children grow up, they begin to oppose and harden the more the Parent chastises them, and finally they become so terrible that they curse their Creator and say, "Come and strike me if you dare!" Now you sorrowful disciples, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice," When the Saviour dies and disappears from your hearts, then you must weep and lament; you have no other refuge nor other comfort than weeping and tears when your Saviour goes away and leaves you as orphans in this world. The world rejoices and ridicules you for the reason that you have begun to follow Jesus, Your sorrow is necessary, for until this time you have been without sorrow, but you will not receive the Holy Spirit unless Jesus goes away for a little while. You must therefore weep and lament when Jesus has gone away, but you must once see the Crucified and Thorn-crowned King arisen from the grave; as already ten disciples have seen Him alive, so must also the unbelieving Thomas see Him at last, and he must believe then, although now he does not believe before he places his finger into the print of the nails. Pray now, you sorrowful disciples of Jesus, that the Heavenly Lord Jesus would give you His Holy Spirit, who would always lead you on the right road, that you would press upon your hearts the last words of the dying parent. When the world mocks His tears and tramples His blood, then the sorrowful disciples of Jesus stand at the foot of His cross, and Mary Magdalene and the mother of Jesus, and the disciple whom Jesus loved, they stand with broken hearts beholding His bloody wounds, pitying Him. But their sorrow will turn into joy when they can see the Crucified and Thorn-crowned King arisen from the grave of dead faith: then they can rejoice and no one can take their joy away. On the Mount of Ascension they can finally, bowing, pray to Him that the sorrow of the mournful disciples will soon turn to joy, that with living eyes they can soon behold Him face to face. Hear, you crucified and resurrected King of Israel, the sigh of the sorrowful disciples. Our Father, which art in Heaven, etc.
The Gospel: John 16:16
By the guidance of our Holy Gospel, we must by God's grace consider; How the disciples become sorrowful when Jesus goes away, and how they become joyful when He returns.
The first consideration: Why do the disciples of Jesus become so sorrowful when Jesus goes away? First, they do not understand at all this whole speech when they are in that dead faith and think that Jesus will never go away. Then they surmises what is it when He says to us "After a little while?" We do not know what He is saying. And how will such a person know, who is yet in sorrowlessness and entirely fastened to the world; what does such a person understand of Jesus" going away, who has not yet experienced how it is to be without the Saviour. Such a person thinks that he believes upon the Saviour although only the world is on the mind. He thinks that through the Saviour he will win goods and honor in the world. Such a faith the disciples then had, that they will become governors and great officials when the Saviour becomes king So also does many a confessor of dead faith believe that Jesus will so bless his work that he will get along well in this world, but he does not think of this, that this earthly Saviour will be taken away from him, and that he must once come into such an unfortunate state that he will no longer see any Saviour, neither in heaven or upon the earth. Such a confessor of dead faith does not at all understand Jesus' speech of His going away to the Father, but he begins to surmise as the disciples, "What is this that He saith, A little while? We cannot tell what He says." If a Christian says to such a confessor of dead faith, "After a. little while you must feel that in that sorrowless and impenitent state you have no trust upon the Saviour, or such a faith which will stand in death," then he says, "Have I no faith upon the Saviour? I do not know what he is saying;" after a little while you must feel that you have no Saviour at all, as long as you trust upon Him with a false faith. You have trusted entirely upon the world and your own strength, although you imagine that you have trusted upon the Saviour; the visible Saviour cannot help your soul. And this visible Saviour will be taken away after a short time: Then you must all weep and lament, who have not yet been in sorrow of penitence. This speech a confessor of dead faith does not understand, but he surmises: "What is this that He says, A little while? We cannot tell what He says."
But the time will once come, that they must understand what it is: "A little while and ye shall not see me." When the visible Saviour is taken away, then it is no longer easy to believe upon that Saviour who is dead. Namely, when a person has that dead and vain trust upon one visible Saviour, as the disciples had before the spiritual sorrow came, then the world is on the mind; he then believes that God has so blessed his work and trouble that he has received honor and goods in the world. But through this faith the world becomes so dear that he does not remember death, Judgement, and eternity; instead he builds for himself everlasting habitations in the world. But when this visible Saviour goes away, then faith begins to be lacking. And when the visible Saviour dies, then sorrow comes, then doubt comes: nor were the disciples of Jesus any more able to believe anything after the Saviour's death, before He became alive.
Where did this sorrow and severe doubt come from to the disciples after the Savior's death? It came from that, that they had built their temporal fortune upon Him, but of salvation of the soul there was no knowledge. When now this temporal fortune disappeared and all of their hope of riches and worldly honor was lost, then came a sorrow and longing after a spiritual Saviour; but in this sorrow was such great doubt that they were no longer able to believe upon that Saviour who was in the mind before. They also confessed their faith on the road to Emmaus, saying, "We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel," but this faith was now lacking. And so it must happen to all disciples of Jesus, that their faith must be lacking through the Saviour's death: they must weep and lament when the Saviour has died. Jesus dies also in the hearts of the Christians through love of the world; when the world become dear and beautiful to the hearts of the Christians, then the Son of God dies. And then this word of Jesus is fitting: "A little while and ye shall not see me." From where do the Christians feel the power of Jesus in their hearts any more, when, because of love of the world, He has died Because of love of the world they must become sorrowful when Jesus dies. The Son of God is not alive in that person's heart, in whom love of the world has become lord of the heart. Such was the disciples´ condition then when the Saviour died. Love of the world was in the heart and mind and when one devil had gotten into the heart, surely others followed after. Namely, although great sorrow came to the disciples when they felt that Jesus was no longer alive in their hearts, Jesus however remain dead as long as self-righteousness effects in them such a great unbelief that they are not able to believe that the Saviour, who had once died, should any more become alive. But the children of the world know nothing of that sorrow, for Jesus says in today´s gospels "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice." And why does the world rejoice? Yes, for this reason the world rejoices: that the false prophet and disturber of the people has not been seized and brought to the council. The world rejoices over this, that the same man, who has barked at them before as an adulterous generation and a generation of vipers, is now about to toe condemned; for that reason the world is joyous. And row they cry, "Crucify! Crucify!" And as the devil then incited his slaves to rejoice over Jesus´ death, so he even now sets his slaves to rejoice when the world´s lords begin to hate and persecute Jesus and His disciples: then the world rejoices. Even those also who have before in hypocrisy cried "Hosanna" begin on Good Friday to cry, "Crucify." For as long as He was teaching in the temple, they all did not care to show their hatred but when He was brought before the court, then the hatred came out. Then the thoughts of many hearts were revealed. What was the distress now when the Disturber of the People had been seized; now the enemies of Jesus can get peace of conscience: He is no longer barking at them as an adulterous generation and a generation of vipers. Now the drunkards and liquor merchants can go to hell in peace. They do not think that after this joy will follow weeping and gnashing of teeth. Woe to those wretches who rejoice and laugh at their own misfortune! But surely they can once see whom they have pierced. Still they cry out God's punishment upon themselves, they even challenge God's vengence upon themselves when they say, "May His blood be on us, and on our children." That is: surely God can punish us if He is innocent. The devil had already strengthened their faith, and who else strengthens their faith but the devil, who forgives his children all their sins, only that they ridicule and oppress Christ. Not in the least will the devil begin to reproach them for sin who cry, "Crucify!" For the enemies of living Christianity are the devil's best friends. And I think that he gives flowing devil's dung even after death as a reward for that, that they have ridiculed, hated, and persecuted Christians, Woe to the unfortunate wretches who always ridicule and laugh when the sorrowful disciples of Jesus weep and lament. Will not the tears of Jesus and His disciples yet begin to burn you? How do you think that you will stand in death and on Judgement Day? Then must the tears of the sorrowful disciples of Jesus burn your consciences eternally, if in that time of grace you do not cease ridiculing and persecuting those who cry repentance to you.
The second consideration: Let us observe now how the sorrow of the disciples is turned into joy.
When the disciples weep and lament because of the death of Jesus, then these wretches feel how unfortunate they are without a Saviour. The world no longer cares about them, for they are the disciples of that false prophet; and when Jesus has died, they have no refuge in heaven. And although they have heard many times those gracious promises that He will arise and give them the Holy Spirit, they are no longer able to believe those promises, but fall into doubt. But through this sorrow and distress of heart, the heart is prepared to receive that unspeakable Joy and foretaste of salvation when Jesus becomes alive and says, "Receive ye the Holy Ghosts Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.” Then the sorrow of the disciples is turned into joy and no one will take their joy away any more, although at times they can feel how terribly the devil tempts them, as Peter writes to the Christians, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:18) This same Peter writes also to the Christians that, "The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." These temptations of the devil every Christian has been able to experience However, through these strivings and temptations with the devil and his followers, the disciples must follow Jesus' bloody footsteps, bearing His cross, and, nevertheless, rejoicing in hope, as often as the great Cross-bearer looks compassionately upon them and says, "Today shalt thou be with me In paradise." Although truly a Christian does not always have It so pleasant when the enemy attacks him terribly through outward and inward temptations, as also through hatred and persecution, however, the Christian's sorrow will finally be turned into joy when the great war Hero gives him victory over the enemy. Therefore now we have seen how the words of Jesus are fulfilled when He said to His disciples: "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice." It has happened just as Jesus has said. The sorrowful disciples of Jesus have wept and lamented, and the world has ridiculed and laughed at them, Even now the sorrowful disciples of Jesus may often weep and lament because of the world, when they see how the world's slaves hate and persecute Jesus, When because of sin and unbelief, He dies in their hearts, then the sorrowful disciples of Jesus can weep and lament in longing for Jesus' merciful presence. Then the world mocks and laughs at the sorrowful disciples of Jesus; the children of the world and the devil's angels mock their tears. But once these tears of the repentant ones will burn their consciences, who have ridiculed, and they can finally see whom they have pierced.
But the sorrow of the disciples will be turned into joy when that great Cross-bearer and Thorn-Crowned King becomes alive in their hearts, and they can feel the effects of His grace. Then they can also feel to be true what Jesus has said: "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." Rejoice and be exceeding glad, you sorrowful disciples, when you see the Lord, Be joyful, you sorrowful Mary Magdalene, when you get to grasp His feet and to embrace His knees with joy, and go with joy to remind the disciples that the Lord has arisen. And you, unbelieving Thomas Place your finger into the prints of the nails if you dare, or put your hand into your mouth and be silent. And you, Peter, throw yourself into the sea and swim to the shore, where Jesus stands to receive you; He stands now on the beautiful shore of eternity and waits for His disciples when they come. However He asks, "Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me?" He asks all who have denied Him with their unfaithfulness: "Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me? Simon, son of Jonah! be ready to answer. Jesus desires love from you, who before were like cold and waivering; now He wants to know how much the Christians love Him: be ready to answer. Who knows if love of the world has effected So much that you would begin to deny Jesus before the world. But say now: "Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." And be faithful in this confession until the very last moment: "Lord, Thou knowest that I love thee." Amen!