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A Time To Grieve

John 16:20-22
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no-one will take away your joy. (NIV)

The crucifixion of Jesus would bring huge grief to the disciples, Jesus’ mother and family, and others who loved Him. It was an enormous grief to Jesus too. He had to endure the cross alone, with its shame and pain, but He was strengthened by the knowledge of the joy of heaven ahead (Hebrews 12:2). The same principle is given in these verses to the trainee apostles: the grief comes first, the joy comes later. Just like in child birth: first the pain and then the joy.

However, the cross produced a different reaction in the Lord’s enemies. They rejoiced over His suffering and gloated over His humiliation (Psalm 22:17). So, the death of Christ brought two radically different responses, and two radically different destinies. The resurrection of Jesus, which brought such joy to the disciples, was the crushing defeat for Satan. It also announced the utter misery of those who continue to reject the Saviour and wake up in a Christless eternity. They choose the self-centred joy of pushing Jesus away, and earn the everlasting grief of hell.

That principle is still true. Those who resist, despise and reject Jesus and the salvation He offers, have no hope, joy or peace in eternity. But, despite sufferings of different kinds, everybody who welcomes Jesus can confidently look forward to His promised eternal joy. These contrasts are at the heart of the gospel. They pivot on how every person responds to Jesus. Those who welcome Him have joy ahead to sustain them through suffering; those who refuse to submit to the Saviour Christ enjoy themselves now, but forfeit the joy of heaven for ever. Such stark eternal contrasts should urge us to tell the Christless world of His love and mercy, inviting them to surrender their hearts to Him while there is still time. It many be helpful to use www.crosscheck.org.uk to tell the gospel story, and to help family, friends and colleagues to focus on Jesus.

Saviour God. Thank You for promising eternal life for all who trust in Jesus. Thank You that even when suffering comes, You will sustain me until I have the joy of being with You. I am sorry to think that I have been careless about my friends who reject Jesus, not appreciating the seriousness of their state before You. Please help me to keep looking to Jesus in the good times and the bad. Give me courage and urgency to speak of Him to those around me. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams