"A Little While" - "What Does This Mean?" John 16:16-23

April 30, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Dr. Martin Luther wrote, "23. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross." He comments: "The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering ( absconditum in passionibus). As the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 1:21, »For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.« Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. Thus God destroys the wisdom of the wise, as Isa. 45:15 says, »Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself.«"(Heidelberg Disputation, 1518). Jubilate Sunday calls us to shout in joyous triumph in the midst of suffering for Christ crucified lives - He has won for us the eternal victory. Sermon Text: John 16:16-23a) Sermon Theme: "A Little While - What Does This Mean?" Preached for Jubilate, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, 30-April-2023, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

Jubilate, Fourth Sunday Of Easter                                   4-April-2023
Sermon Text: John 16:16-22
Sermon Theme: “A Little While” - “What Does This Mean?” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” What are the marks of a disciple of Jesus? “Weeping, lamenting, sorrowing” is what Jesus preaches, while those of the world rejoice. You will suffer. You will be conformed to the image of the Crucified and risen Son of God. The world does not know Him, nor can it know Him unless God the Father calls them by the Holy Spirit through the Promise of the Crucified. The world runs from the cross. Avoids suffering at all costs. Seeks only to be happy fulfilling its own felt needs and fleshly desires. Taking up the cross and following Jesus is antithetical to Satan’s lie that we can be our own idols fulfilling self-centered desires to be happy. Satan packages and sells his theology of glory under the guise of Christianity. Follow Jesus, do what is right, and you will be happy, happy, all the time. If your not happy, he accuses through the false preachers he sends, its because you aren’t following the principals properly, praying hard enough, or doing enough good. Then Satan, the world, and your own sinful flesh lead you from false belief into despair of God’s mercy in Christ stealing the message of the cross from your ears.
    “Receive the sign of the holy cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified.” Words that echoed in your infant ears at the font on the day that the image of our crucified and risen Jesus was pressed into your heart by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word as the Father adopted you as His beloved child. What does it mean to be God’s beloved son? The Holy Spirit teaches, Heb 12:3-7 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (4) You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. (5) 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; (6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (7) If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” Knowing Christ, we know that God is hidden in suffering. Suffering that Jesus promise lasts - “A little while.” Let us ask the question of the faithful - “A Little While” - “What Does This Mean?”
      In the darkness on the night of His betrayal Jesus speaks words to comfort His disciples. (Jn. 16:16). In a few hours the disciples would not see their Lord. Jesus, betrayed by Judas, would be arrested, beaten, tried three times, scourged, then delivered to the torturous death by crucifixion. He would suffer hell bearing our sin forsaken by God the Father for us. He would die. He would be buried. They would see Him no more by Friday evening. All of their hopes dashed they would hide in fear and shame of denying Him. Their little while would seem to last an eternity. Like Judah, in the days of Isaiah, they lamented, “Isa 40:27 ... "My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God"?
      They lamented because they closed their ears to Christ’s promise in His Word...”Because I go to the Father.” He would be separated from them by suffering, death, and the grave to forever reconcile sinful mankind to “the Father.” There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life - no other way to reconciliation with God the Father than the flesh and blood of Jesus - crucified for our sins and risen to declare us forgiven - washed perfect in the blood of Christ to be the Father’s beloved children.
      The disciples didn’t understand. (Jn. 16:17-18) Discussing His words among themselves they seemed to a riddle. “A little while” “going to the Father” they didn’t know what He was saying. Yes, at the Last Passover meal, He had spoken of His betrayal, that the Passover would find its fulfillment in Him, He gave them His flesh in bread, and blood in wine forgiving them and that they remember His death. He told them that He would suffer. The world would treat them as it treats Him. Still this “little while” talk made no sense that dark night.
        We sympathize with the disciples in the dark nights of grief, suffering, disease, separation, and depression. When the cross comes into our lives we don’t understand the “little while.” We lament that our suffering is too great. Far from rejoicing in hope as we are patient in suffering - we seek to be free from suffering. The opioid epidemic leading to the heroin epidemic began with fleeing from pain. Drug companies promised us that we had a right to be free from pain, free from suffering. Pain clinics sprang up - addictions far from freeing people led them into the slavery of addiction. Instead of suffering a little while of pain we choose to live in a drugged fog to escape reality.
        Repent! Listen to the Living voice of Jesus. The One who suffered all your pain lives! (Jn. 16:19-20) The mystery of His suffering, His cross, His death, His grave - is that it is all bore, without drugs, FOR YOU! Yes, you will weep - the world will rejoice. It will mock the Lord of Creation nailed to the tree. It will demand that He prove Himself the Son of God by fleeing suffering - coming down from the cross. He won’t turn His back on drinking the hellish cup of suffering your sin deserved to its deadly dregs. Yes, you will weep. The world rejoices - its joy is short lived. Marked with the sign of the Crucified and Risen Jesus - your sorrow will be turned into joy.
        Three days after Satan and the world rejoiced to bury the Lord of Life - their joy was forever shattered. Jesus took up His life again in His flesh. He marched triumphantly through the gates of hell - Satan is defeated. He marched victoriously from the grave - death could not hold Him and now our graves are forever robbed of our bodies. As He lives we shall live also. Now the world may scowl, threaten, even take our lives - but they lose - their joy will be forever shattered in Jesus’ final coming - He will speak arise - and our bodies will rise from the dust of death to feast with Jesus the only Savior of sinners in creation restored and eternally freed from Satan, sin, and death.
      Listen! (Jn. 16:21) Mothers know this truth. Only a woman’s body is created to carry life within her womb. Far from the delusional evil idolatry of our age - a man cannot get pregnant - it is the gift the Creator gave to women alone. When a mother goes into labor she has sorrow. There is no turning back. The pain doesn’t relent growing in intensity. She cannot deliver herself from the pain of labor. Her life is in the hands of her Creator working through the hands of those tending to her care. A woman in labor draws nearest to death through excruciating pain. Then suddenly those hours or days of sorrowing in labor and its pains is gone. Her screams fall silent as she hears the beautiful voice of her newborn baby crying for its mother’s comfort. Pregnancy isn’t a disease - it is the blessing of our Creator to bring joy through sorrow and life into His world.
      What does this mean? (Jn. 16:22-23a) Now you have sorrow. The disciples would sorrow. All hope seemed lost. Then the eight day of creation dawned - Sunday morning - the first day of the New Creation - for the Second Adam lived marching victoriously from the dust of death. He breathes forth His life giving Holy Spirit into us comforting us with peace through the forgiveness of our sins. He claims us, reconciles us to His Father, in Holy Baptism. He feasts us at His Table. Now we see Him with our ears - In His Word comforting us by His Holy Spirit. He feasts us at His table as we sorrow now for a little while. We may grieve for fellow Christians we’ve buried, but soon that little while will end, they will be raised in their bodies - we will see them again, hear their voices, hug them and forever rejoice in the feast of eternity with Jesus. Now we may sorrow as our flesh and heart fails us with cancers, depression, and the like - but it is only for a little while. Our sorrow endures for the brief night of this world, but our joy will be eternal in the life of the world to come.
    Now we wonder “Why?” must I suffer - then we shall know and have no need to ask Jesus anything. Christ Jesus preached through the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Judah who thought they were forgotten as they suffered evil rulers and invading armies. The Creator Christ assures them and us - He knows the stars by name - He knows you whom He has called by name baptizing you in to His Body -the Church. He never sleeps on the job. He knows by which crosses and sufferings to preserve you in His Word and faith until you die. He strengthens you by His living flesh and blood in bread and wine placed upon you lamenting lips. Here He gives you a foretaste of the eternal feast of joy. Listen and you will hear the echo of “angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven” your loved ones who fell asleep in Jesus - singing the joyous song of triumph with you. Suffering lasts but a little while for Christians, our joy is eternal! For: “Alleluia Christ is Risen!” He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” Amen.

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