Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Grief Will Become Joy

“When they opposed him and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your heads!  I am clear of responsibility.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”  Acts 18:6

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”  John 16:20

Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.  Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, Will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.  Psalm 126:5-6

When Paul’s preaching was rejected, he literally “shook out his garments.”  This is a gesture indicating Paul’s repudiation of his mission to the Jews there and he then turns to preach to the Gentiles.  This follows the instruction from Jesus which is reinforced in all of the Synoptic Gospels.

“Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.”  Luke 10:10-11

Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.  Matthew 10:14

Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”  Mark 6:11

Rather than go forth weeping for the failure of this ministry to take root, Jesus tells his followers to continue to persevere until their words fall on ears which are willing to hear and hearts which are willing to open.

By human accounts, Jesus was an itinerant preacher who was rejected by his closest followers in his own temple and town.  He was turned over to belligerent occupying authorities, convicted of trumped up charges without any advocate to speak on his behalf.  There were no long appeals when he was put on death row.  No ACLU taking his case back to the emperor in Rome or to the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay.  Yet Jesus was not discouraged by “failure” in the human accomplishments because the grief that his friends experienced was turned to joy when Peter marched into that empty tomb.

Does failure discourage you?  When have you “failed” at something if judged by the standards of the world?  What lessons have you learned from failure?  What part of Jesus did that experience allow you to pick up and carry with you?

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