Sorrow that Gives Birth to Joy

Good Friday Tre Ore
John 19:25-27
March 30, 2018
Blessed Savior Lutheran Church—Florissant, MO

III

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her,

“Woman, here is your son,”

and to the disciple,

“Here is your mother.”

From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27).

In the name of + Jesus.

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen 3:16). This is the curse that God announces following the woman’s sin. The blessing that God first gave to be fruitful and multiply is now tarnished by rebellion and disobedience. Childbirth means pain. Not just physical pain, but a kind of sorrow, as well. In order to bring new life into the world, woman must have a small taste of death.

But Jesus also reminds us that the sorrow of childbirth is soon overwhelmed by the joy of a new life born into the world. 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 (Jn 16:21). Yet that joy is tempered by the fact that the child is born into a fallen world, and must suffer many things. The sorrows of childbirth extend into the days, weeks, and years that follow.

Jesus was not the only One who suffered on that Good Friday. His mother, who had borne Him in her belly, who had nursed Him at her breast, who had clothed Him, fed Him, nurtured Him, loved Him. Who sang of the Lord’s great and majestic work to Him. She knew this day would come, yet it couldn’t numb the sting she felt in her own heart. Old Simeon prophesied to Mary as she held the baby Jesus in her arms: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” The soul that once magnified the Lord is now pierced every bit as much as the hands of her Son. It’s not right for a mother to watch her son die.

Even in His greatest pain and agony, Jesus cared for His mother. He kept the Fourth Commandment for all of us rebellious children. Woman, here is your son…Here is your mother. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, took Mary into his home as his own mother that day. Tradition is that John settled with Mary in the city of Ephesus, where she fell asleep in Jesus. And she who received and bore the eternal Word was received by her Son into His eternal kingdom on account of His Word to her.

Jesus gave His mother the gift of adoption, even as He hung dying on the cross. But He doesn’t reserve such love only for her. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Gal 4:4-5). The death of Jesus means a new household for you. Not of flesh and blood or shared genetic materials. The new household is a household established by His Word, just as His third Word from the cross established a new household for John and Mary. Such a household is one of faith.

Even as darkness descended during those three hours, the promise of John’s prologue comes to pass: The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:9-13).

The death of Jesus reverses the curse of Eden. His desire is only for the salvation of those whom He loves; He is enthroned on His cross to rule over them in grace. Jesus labors in pain for all women who give birth to children in painful labor. And by His obedience and honor of not only His mother on earth, but His Father in heaven. Jesus sets the rebellion right. In three days, the sorrow of His death will give birth to new life.

In the name of + Jesus.

Jacob W Ehrhard
VD+MA