19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
In these last few hours before Jesus is handed over to the soldiers, he is still trying to prepare his apostles for what is coming. His death will be a shock to them even though he told them it was going to happen. Death is always a shock to those left behind, even if the person has been sick for a long time. Sometimes it is even harder if the person has been ill because they rally and we come to expect that they will continue to rally until they don’t. Sudden death brings its own form of shock, it brings disbelief. The apostles believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, and can’t comprehend his warnings. They just confuse them. They saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead just a few days ago, but they still have questions. Jesus tries to give them hope. He tells them that their sorrow will turn to joy, that they will see him again. He had asked Martha if she believed in the resurrection of the dead when he met her at Lazarus’ tomb. She said that she did believe. We, too, say that we believe when we accept that Jesus is our Savior.
Although our weeping will last more than the three days that Jesus was in the tomb before his resurrection, we can have hope and we can rejoice after the death of a loved one because we believe that we will meet again in heaven. The apostles will weep, and those who had him killed will rejoice. However, it will only be a few days before the tables will turn and the apostles will rejoice because Jesus lives, and the Jewish leaders will be even angrier than before. Now they will be afraid for their own safety if this new “Way” takes root because the Romans will not be pleased. We have an advantage over the apostles because we know the end of the story and, in the words of a hymn, we have “blessed assurance.”
Thank you, Lord, for your words of hope both for your apostles and for us. Sorrow lasts for a brief time, but you let us know that joy will be ours for eternity. Amen.