March 3, 2010

Two Types of Sorrow - March 3, 2010

To LISTEN to this week's sermon online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".


May God’s love for you rest on your hearts. And may the undeserved mercy of Christ fill you with peace. Amen.

Sometimes laughter and crying can be nearly impossible to tell apart.

Perhaps you’ve approached someone with an inquisitive smile on your face, curious at what they found so funny, only to realize that the laughter that you thought you heard was actually sobbing.

Maybe you’ve experienced the opposite. Maybe you’ve rushed through the house to see what terrible thing had happened, only to find that one child was simply tickling the other.

Our message for tonight focuses on Two Types of Sorrow. Like laugher and crying these two sorrows might seem the same from the outside, but they are very different. Night and day different you might say.

One is like the evening darkness, which is followed by the blackest of nights. The other is like the morning darkness, which comes right before the dawn.

Luke 23:27-31 (NIV)

27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
31For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Plenty of people from the condemning mob followed Jesus as He plodded and staggered toward Calvary. But not everyone followed Him out of hatred. A group of women from Jerusalem followed Jesus out of pity.

These women knew where the soldiers were taking these men. They knew that there was no escape. While they could not free them, they could at least show them their sympathy. And so they followed with tears and loud crying attempting to lend some comfort before the excruciating end.

But, even though they meant well, Jesus did not want their tears. Their wailing expressed worldly sorrow. Sorrow that sees no hope.

He turned and told them to stop. Other men who walked this path did so because Rome forced them to. Jesus walked this path by choice. He would not have His march to the cross seem as if it had been forced upon Him.

It must have been shocking to hear Jesus’ words. Jesus told them that if they wanted to cry, they should instead cry for THEMSELVES and for their CHILDREN.

The Jewish people considered motherhood a great honor. They viewed the inability to have children a disgrace to a woman. Even a curse from God. But Jesus said that a horrific day was on its way when their world would be turned upside down.

In the days to come their thinking would be completely turned around. Instead of looking on the childless woman as disgraced and cursed, they would long to be her. A woman who carried her own sorrow only, what a blessing! What a blessing over the those who had their sorrow doubled by each child who lay starving, dead or dying.

Jesus spoke of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD when the Roman army of Titus would surround the rebellious city and then settle in to wait them out.

At this time the prophesy would come true, “they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘cover us!’”. The inhabitants of Jerusalem would long for a quick end, but life would linger until it was no longer life, but living death.

This horror come upon Jerusalem as God’s judgment for rejecting the Messiah He had promised for so long, and had at last sent to take the people’s sin away.

When Jesus came it was the spring time of salvation. Life sprung up from His words of grace like green growth. Faith flowered in the hearts of many through His preaching. But in the height of this springtime Jerusalem murdered the Messiah.

The days to come would be like a drought to Jerusalem. And finally the fire would be sparked which would consume it altogether.

If there was something to cry about, it was not here on the road to Calvary. Worldly, hopeless sorrow did not belong anywhere near the Savior. That kind of dark sorrow dwells only on the road which leads away from Jesus.

But there is another kind of sorrow. One which Paul speaks of in Second Corinthians: Godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Worldly sorrow is like the evening shadows which lengthen into the blackest and longest night. But Godly sorrow is like the morning shadows which retreat and disappear in the light of the sun.

Godly sorrow is sorrow related to God. While worldly sorrow can come from thousands of sources, Godly sorrow comes from one place. From realizing that all our sins are really done against our Creator.

King David knew about Godly sorrow. He wrote about it in Psalm 51.

“1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:1-4 NIV).

Against you, you only have I sinned. David realized that every one of his sins was a double. It was done against some person, but also against God.

Godly sorrow is focused on God. But Godly sorrow is followed by a change of mind. What we sometimes call “repentance”. It is best described as “a turning around”.

Often this change of mind is revealed by an action that matches. The repentant liar finally tells the truth. The repentant thief returns what was stolen.

Where worldly sorrow leads only to hopeless despair, Godly sorrow leads to salvation. For Godly sorrow drives us to God, to trust in His promise of forgiveness. And through Jesus we are given that forgiveness.

Worldly sorrow may cause people to seek release like Judas did – through personal action. Making things right somehow. Judas sought to escape his sorrow over betraying Jesus by bringing the money back to the Chief Priests. But his action didn’t take his sorrow away because He didn’t look to Jesus for help. Worldly sorrow is a dead end because it doesn’t look to Jesus for help.

Godly sorrow is not a dead end, but a beginning. It brings the feeling of “I shouldn’t have done that” along with the feeling of “I don’t ever want to do that again”. It not only sees God as the one sinned against, but it also sees God’s Son as the one who takes all our sins away.

To the Christian, Godly sorrow is the only way to go. And like Paul says, Godly sorrow is never regretted. Godly sorrow is sadness sent from God to open our eyes. It leads us back to Jesus and to life. As Jesus Himself said,

“4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV).

In Jerusalem, you can still walk the path that Jesus did on the way to the cross. They call it the “via dolorosa” – the way of sorrow. Many visitors to Jerusalem do this, pausing at each of the stations to meditate on the events that happened there so long ago. Meditating on the sufferings of Jesus.

Sadly, some teach that pity for Christ’s pain gets you points with God the Father. What a sad thing. They’re doing the same thing that the women of Jerusalem did.

Jesus did not suffer and die to get your pity. He did not suffered and died so that we can dwell on His suffering and beat ourselves up about it. He carried our sorrows so that we don’t have to! He carried our guilt so that we don’t have to!

Look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. They’re pretty short. They don’t linger on the gore of Christ’s crucifixion. They leave out the details and just tell us the simple fact – they crucified Him.

The brevity of the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion shows us that God wants us to know what happened, but He doesn’t want us to torture ourselves with our Savior’s suffering. Don’t make Lent YOUR time of suffering. It was HIS.

Luther said it like this:

“The fruit and use of the sufferings of Christ is this, that in them we have the forgiveness of sins”

Confess your sins to God, but don’t dwell on them long. They are forgiven. When sorrow of any kind takes hold of your heart, look to Christ and to nothing else for release. Drop your sins like the putrid things they are, and just look to Jesus your Savior as to the rising sun that breaks the darkness, and brings the green growth of spiritual life.


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment