Journey to joy (Good Friday)

When God experienced our pain, he was restoring our joy.

There’s the grief you feel when you hoped your team would win, and they lost.

Then there’s deep grief — the grief you feel when you lose someone.

Jesus’ disciples faced that grief. They expected him to save the world. Jesus had a brave agenda for a new world, an agenda that challenged the people in power.

They expected a showdown, but they didn’t expect Jesus to lose. They didn’t expect him to lose his life.

They didn’t expect him to be arrested in the dark, dragged into court. They didn’t expect the death sentence. They didn’t expect to see him publicly executed, on a cross.

That kind of grief overwhelms you. When nothing makes sense any more, there’s nothing to hold on to. They’d hung on every word Jesus said.  Now they had nothing. When they needed him most, he was gone.

What was it he’d told them the night before? He said some things about grief that made no sense at the time.

He said, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.”
Then he said, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20).

Weeping, mourning, grieving — they understood that now.  But joy? Surely there could never again be joy in a world where evil destroyed God’s anointed. Surely there could never be joy while the innocent lose to the powerful.

But Jesus insists: joy comes. It’s like childbirth: the agony extreme, a beautiful life born out of the pain. These were his words:

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. (John 16:21-22)

Somehow, Jesus believed that through this grief — through his loss — something joyful would be born. How could that happen? His disciples had no idea. Right now, all they had was their grief.

In two days’ time, it would all turn around. The grief they felt would turn to joy. The present groanings would give birth to something new. Something alive. A future. A hope. A lasting joy, for all creation. A joy no one takes away.

This was the moment in history when God absorbed in himself all the grief of the world, to restore his joy.

(Allen’s script for Riverview Media, Good Friday 2018.)

[next: Devastated (Holy Saturday)]

Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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