Morning Bible Study
Mini-retreat this Saturday…
Sorrow to Joy
We are on the last night before Jesus’ death. Jesus is giving some last instructions to His
:16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and
you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”
:16 a little while
– mikros – small, little; of time:
short, brief, a little while
:17 Then some
of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A
little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will
see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?”
The disciples are baffled with Jesus’ words. When they quote Jesus, they
use the same two words for “see”.
:18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We
do not know what He is saying.”
They are stuck on the phrase “a little while”?
:19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are
you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will
not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?
:19 to ask
– erotao – to question; to request,
:20 Most assuredly,
I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you
will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
:20 Most assuredly
– amen amen – “truly, truly”,
something important is going to be said
:20 will weep
– klaio – to mourn, weep, lament; to
– threneo – a formal expression of grief
like singing a song or reading a poem.
:20 will rejoice
– chairo – to rejoice, be glad
– lupe – sorrow, pain, grief,
– chara – joy, gladness; from chairo
I’m afraid that if you’ve listened to too many of us preachers, you may
have heard one or two of us define joy something like this:
“It’s a deep feeling you feel deep down inside your heart. You may not feel happy, your life may be
miserable, but there’s this unexplainable thing that’s way down deep”.
It almost sounds sometimes like joy gets redefined so we
can have an excuse for why we’re not happy.
Somehow I’m feeling miserable, but I still have “the joy
of the Lord”.
To be honest, some of us don’t do so good with “joy”. Here’s “Beaker” from the Muppet Show performing Beethoven’s “Ode
Some of us would rather not try that “joy” stuff. It hurts us sometimes.
The concept of
“joy” is a common theme in the Scripture.
The verb and
noun are used over 150 times in the New Testament.
In the Old
Testament, the words “joy” and “rejoice” are used over 250 times.
One example in
the Old Testament is in the book of Esther to describe how the Jews reacted
when they were saved from the evil decree that would have wiped them out…
(Es 8:17 NKJV) And
in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the
Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday.
Often the Bible uses a wedding to express what “joy” is all about (Jer. 16:9)
prodigal son returned and the father threw a party for him, he told the older
(Lk 15:32 NKJV) It
was right that we should make
merry and be glad, for your
brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
throws a party.
A time of joy
that’s been built into Judaism takes place at the beginning of each Sabbath, on
Steve Marques is a Calvary Chapel pastor in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He writes
about a time visiting Israel when he was at the Western Wall at the Temple
Mount, Friday night, at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath:
“Dancing at the Wall” video with clips from: Traditional Dance and Israeli
“As the time drew near for the Sabbath to start, the
various sects of Judaism were all represented. When one of the three stars appeared
in the night sky, the place erupted in emotion. The Russians were leaping and
jumping in front of us in full dress, their fur hats sticking closely to their
heads as they were singing at the top of their lungs and laughing and thanking
God for the opportunity to be at the Wall in Jerusalem. Ultra orthodox from all
over the world joined arms and began to dance and recite their prayers and sing
loudly enough for the Russians to take notice and smile. The more
"relaxed" non-full dress sects were in the back, dancing in circles
arm in arm with Israeli soldiers that momentarily came down from their duties
and sang and danced to enjoy the Sabbath. They would scream out their prayers
in joy and in agony, tears streaming down their cheeks. We could still hear
them singing as we went back to our bus, unable to stay until the third star
was visible. The whole thing was an incredible experience that looked very much
like a Pentecostal church. It was an exciting, emotional time that I will not
I think there’s
a sense in which we may experience “joy” a little differently depending on our
Some of us have a personality like Ben Stein.
Ben Stein Clear Eyes
He is real excited when he says, “wow”…
Some of us may be a little more exuberant like:
Laughing Baby clip
But no matter
what our personality, God wants us to experience “joy”.
For some of you, God wants you to know that He wants to
turn your “sorrow” into “joy”
(Ps 30:11 NKJV) You
have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and
clothed me with gladness,
:21 A woman,
when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she
has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that
a human being has been born into the world.
:21 labor … birth
I understand on good authority that giving birth is not a “fun” thing.
The painful thing brings joy
The mother is
caused great pain by her baby as she gives birth to it.
But after the birth, the very thing that brought so much pain, now brings
so much joy.
I’ve seen it up close. Just prior
and during the delivery, a mom says, “never again”. Yet that baby turns around and brings so much
The answer is not to get rid of the thing that causes the pain, but to wait
and receive the joy that will come later.
disciples, the death of Jesus brought so much pain and sorrow to them.
But after the resurrection, they saw that His death was
necessary to pay for their sins, and His death became a source of joy.
When we're in hard times, we want to get rid of the thing that is causing
so much trouble.
But that is the very thing that God wants to use, to turn our sorrow into
throw out the kids.
throw out the husband.
throw out the job.
Just learn to wait for the joy.
A little while = patience
It was that phrase “a little while” that got the disciples confused. The same phrase confuses us as well.
It’s after a “little while” that our sorrow turns to joy.
That’s the hard part, waiting for the “little while” to be up.
(2 Co 4:16–18 NKJV) —16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet
the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working
for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look
at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the
things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are
In the light of eternity, all of our “affliction” is
There once was
an oyster whose story I tell,
Who found that sand had got under his shell;
Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain,
For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain.
Now, did he berate the working of Fate
Which had led him to such a deplorable state?
Did he curse out the Government, call for an election?
No; as he lay on the shelf, he said to himself,
“If I cannot remove it, I’ll try to improve it.”
So the years rolled by as the years always do,
And he came to
his ultimate destiny—stew.
And this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,
Was a beautiful
pearl, all richly aglow.
Now this tale has a moral—for isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand;
What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin
With all of the things that get under our skin.
Give it some time, beloved.
The “little while” is only a problem if you don’t have eternity in your
you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and
your joy no one will take from you.
:22 you now have
The disciples will have sorrow when Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, and
Lord of the Rings, the character Gandalf reminds me a little of Jesus.
Gandalf gives up his life for his friends.
Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.
Gandalf beat the dragon. Jesus
Gandalf comes back to life. Jesus
comes back to life.
In this clip
from the first movie, the group of friends are making their way to take the
ring of power to the fires of Mount Doom.
Along the way they find themselves in a battle with a huge dragon. Gandalf fights the dragon, but ends up being
pulled into the pit with it.
Play LOTR clip
(Fellowship of the Rings; pt.2, 42:00)
Did you catch
:22 your heart will
Remember that “joy” stuff.
Jesus will not
stay dead. He will rise from the dead.
This will bring them “joy”
:22 your joy no one
will take from you
Joy in God’s work
Can your “joy” be taken?
Perhaps it depends on what causes you to be joyful.
All it takes is an accident, car repairs, payments, or a
scratch in the parking lot
Some folks find joy in what they do at work.
But they can also find great grief as well.
Your joy might be depending on what they cook you for
Your joy might be depending on whether they agree that
it’s time to buy a new spring wardrobe
It’s not wrong to find “joy” in these kinds of times, but
if these are the only sources of your joy, then God has something more for you.
The joy that
Jesus is describing to the disciples is what they will find when He has risen
from the dead.
If your “joy”
is in what Jesus has done and who He is to you, it’s a joy that no one can
“Rejoice in the Lord”
:23 “And in
that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you
ask the Father in My name He will give you.
:23 will ask Me
– erotao – to question; to request,
This was the word used in verse 19,
(Jn 16:19 NKJV) Now
Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him…
:23 whatever you
ask – aiteo – to ask, call
for, crave, desire; A request of the will
Jesus uses two different words for “ask” in this verse, close but
:23 in that day you
will ask Me nothing
It could be
that Jesus is saying that they will no longer have questions to ask Jesus like
they were asking in verse 19. Jesus uses
the same Greek word in the first “you will ask Me nothing” as He did in verse
It could be
that Jesus is saying that after the resurrection, the disciples will be asking
God the Father directly for their prayer requests instead of asking Jesus.
:24 Until now
you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may
:24 may be full
– pleroo – to make full, to fill up; i.e.
about the disciples experiencing “joy” in vss. 20-22, having sorrow turned into
joy, having a joy that no one can take.
Now He talks as
if He wants their joy to move up to the next level, as if there is even more
Jesus says that
we will have an even greater joy through prayer and its answers.
I have been trying to learn about prayer for a long time.
To be honest, prayer does not always bring me “joy”
Sometimes prayer just seems like hard work.
Sometimes prayer seems like a difficult obligation.
Some keys to “joyful” prayer.
Knowing He cares
(1 Pe 5:6–7 NKJV) —6
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you
in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I don’t come to my Papa and pray because I’m afraid He’ll beat me with a
stick. I come because I remember how
much He cares about me.
Peter connects finding joy with trusting in Jesus, even in our trials:
(1 Pe 1:6–9 NKJV) —6
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you
have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious
than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise,
honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now
you do not see Him, yet believing,
you rejoice with joy
inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of
When I get to the point where I lay the problem down in Papa’s
lap and believe that He will do what’s best, I find peace, I find joy.
David talked about a “full” joy that comes from God’s presence
(Ps 16:11 NKJV) You
will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are
Joy is found in God’s presence, by intimacy with God.
have to confess that sometimes my prayers are more like sending an email or text
message to God than
they are intimate conversations.
I have a list of things I “have” to work through, and one
by one I send out those messages.
But every once in a while I stop to think about what I’m
doing and who I am talking with.
Because of what
Jesus did on the cross for us, we are no longer “far” from God, but able to
approach God directly.
(Heb 4:16 NKJV) Let
us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and
find grace to help in time of need.