“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:20-22)
Jesus doesn’t play down the fact that His disciples will have to endure sorrow in this world, especially when He is leaving them. After all, they have been following Him as their master and teacher for three years, and they are waiting for Him to become King and to expel the Roman oppressors. But that won’t happen. Jesus will be crucified instead! He will have to suffer and die, and this will leave his disciples confused and sorrowful.
But Jesus encourages his disciples before any of this happens. He promises them that He will return, and that their sorrow will turn into deep joy.
Looking back, we see that Jesus has kept his word. He rose from the death and appeared to his disciples. And even though He later returned to his Father in heaven and thus left them ‘alone’ again, this joy lasted. Luke records how the disciples “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52-53).
Knowing Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior Who has conquered death and given us eternal life, is a lasting source of joy. No one can take that joy from us.
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