Mar 2, 2016 – 2 kinds of grief Lent mid 4
Tonight’s look at the contrast of shadow and light of our Lenten season brings us to grief. And we’re reminded tonight that grief is of two kinds. Like in the hymn(437) in vs 5. There is a godly grief and a grief that is only for show or pretend.
Many of us are aware that mourners, paid mourners, were once a part of many cultures in Jesus day. In the Egyptian cults of the day, mourners were paid to cry over the deaths of certain gods and goddess during festivals for them.
In the Greek worship of their gods a similar thing was done although there the practice extended into dramas as well as public rituals. Elsewhere in the near east paid mourners were used as a means to help the grieving understand that they are not alone in their grief. However mourners were also paid to engender sympathy in large groups and to agitate or stir up sentiment for a cause for which someone had died.
There were many reasons for mourners to be paid. In the Jewish tradition of the day mourners were hired to play music, cry and wail during the procession to burial. And then according to custom on the way back from the burial they were to lament quietly along side the family.
So in the gospel reading tonight what we see are those mourners who are wailing for Jesus as He goes to crucifixion. These may be sincere however it seems, by what Jesus says that they are wailing for the sake of custom and for show. The may be trying to put forward a display perhaps to whip up sentiment against the roman occupation.
Jesus seems to know that they are not weeping over the reason He goes to the cross, which is to die for their sins and for the sins of the world. Even as He walks to Calvary He is teaching. He says to weep for themselves and not for Him. To weep over the fact that if they kill the Son of Man living among them, what will happen to those who follow the son of man after He has ascended to heaven?
Then there are the other mourners the women at the cross of Jesus. We’re reminded when we see Jesus mother Mary that she was told, by Simeon in the temple shortly after Jesus was born, that a sword would pierce her own soul as well. Here at Jesus’ cross we can only imagine the piercing grief she was lamenting over.
And along with her were close friends and relatives. They together were grieving over this death. This family grief was of the raw and personal kind. There was no pretense or paid tears at the cross. This sorrow was that of true loss and personal grief. These women, perhaps better than anyone else that day, had a clue as to what they we’re crying over.
Mary certainly understood that from the time of the first visit of the angel to her that this Child of hers was not like any other child. And that His death was not like any other death. She knew that her son was also the Son of God and that His death meant more too the world than the world could grasp at that time.
Lets take note as we move toward the shadow and light of the cross this Lenten season, that as we mourn and lament our sins and the price Jesus paid, let us indeed be godly in our grief. That we too keep it personal. That it be the grief of family.
Our brother has gone to the cross in our place to sacrifice Himself for us, for me, for you, for each one of you. Our grief is over what we have caused the Son of God to die for. It is a grief that leads to repentance not despair. To hope and trust that what Jesus died for He accomplished, the forgiveness of our sins.
Yes, we do lament and join the women at the cross with our tears, but we do so with the sure and certain knowledge that Jesus has died to bring us through grief to joy. From mourning to laughter. Because He has triumphed over the shadow of our fears of being forever parted from God the Father. That is the light that Godly grief brings to us.
In Jesus name amen.
Sermon #815 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
Holy Gospel Luke 23:27-31 & John 19:25
27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
31 For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.