See John 16
This chapter reminds me of It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'! which is the title of Tony Campolos well-known sermon that references a sermon by his preacher, Marshal Shepard Sr. at the Mt. Olivet Church in West Philadelphia ...
Its Friday, but Sundays a comin. It was Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But thats Friday, and Sundays a comin. Friday, Marys crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But thats Friday, and Sundays a comin ... Friday, people are saying, Darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere, but they dont know its only Friday, but Sundays a comin. Even though this world is rotten, as it is right now, we know its only Friday. But Sundays a comin.
The good news is that the cross in Friday is not the end. Sunday, the day of resurrection is coming. I want us to imagine the before and after of Friday and Sunday. Think of the cross there is a Friday side or sorrow, suffering, fear and loss. And theres a Sunday side where the meaning of the cross has been changed forever.
The cross is the ultimate turning point. An event of great shame and sacrifice that causes offense and fear, becomes the key to salvation and the door of hope. Using the language of Johns gospel, we might say that there is the view from below and the view from above. We see everything, the world, our life, church, even the cross from either the view from below or the view from above. Those who can see from above are those whove been born from above.
Thats important because historically, we live on the Sunday side of the cross. We could just set John 16 aside and say that it was written from the perspective of the Friday side when the disciples are very anxious about Jesus leaving and they will not see him anymore. But dont forget, John wrote this Gospel on the Sunday side. He wrote it for born from above believer on the Sunday side. Why would he do that? He did that because even though we are historically on the Sunday side, in our experience, we all find ourselves on the Friday side of the cross from time to time.
John is preaching to believers beyond the first generation. Hes preaching to those who have heard but never seen. Hes preaching to you. Hes preaching to West-Ark. Hes preaching to the United States.
He says that he knows it is Friday and there is trouble in the world.
Thats the Friday side of the cross. Weve all been there. Jesus said, In this world you will have trouble (16:33). Isnt it strange how we try to avoid admitting that. Maybe we assume that good people dont do that. Maybe we just try and put a lid on it. We want to belong to church so that we can take heart. We want to belong to church so that others on the Friday side of the cross can lift us up to the view from above so that we can get to the Sunday side. We want to hold someones hand while we breathe through the pain like that woman in childbirth. We know that sorrow will turn to joy.
But Jesus is warning us that sometimes the trouble comes not from the world, but from inside the church. When the church is on the Friday side of the cross looking at the cross from below, there will be real sorrow.
Jesus told his disciples to get ready for the time when they would be cast out of the synagogue. He told them to even prepared for the fact that sincere but mistaken people would consider it a righteous act to kill believers in Jesus. This warning never expired. It applied directly to the generation of believers who worshipped in the synagogue with their Jewish brothers and sisters. They would experience sorrow and suffering from those who claimed to worship the God.
But the warning never expired. Through the ages and even in our own day we experience sorrow from within the church. The church that claims to fight and struggle in Gods name, but they cannot see the cross from above. They cannot leave Friday and get to Sunday.
Inside the church and outside the church we are looking for the quick fixes that will make the sorrow go away. We want the pill, the book, the verse, the plan, the cash, the bill or the amendment that will make it all go away. We want to jump from Friday straight into Sunday. Jesus doesnt say there will be a quick fix. He says that we will see him again, not right away, but in a little while.
Jesus says that only in him can we have peace. Only in him can sorrow turn to joy. When the world cranks up its hate and fear, When the church seems to be acting like the world , When we find ourselves standing below the cross on Friday Jesus calls to us from Sunday and says Take heart, I have overcome the world!
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