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Christians Are not Stoics

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Since Jesus’ disciples didn’t yet grasp the reality of His upcoming death and resurrection, they struggled to understand what He meant when He said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” In answer to their confusion, Jesus prepared them for His departure by comparing the cross to the agony and joy of childbirth. In his sermon “From Sorrow to Joy,” Alistair walks us through John 16:16–24, clarifying how, like the apostles, we, too, can be assured and rejoice.

In this brief excerpt, Alistair helpfully reminds us that the example of our Lord Himself bears testimony to the reality that we will indeed face trials, pain, and sorrows in this life—but, if we are in Christ, we do so with hope:

The discussion then gives rise to Jesus’ declaration—that was the second one—which is our “Truly, truly”: “I say to you, you will weep and lament.” That’s the first thing they need to know: “You will weep and lament.” They knew their Old Testament: “There’s a time to be born; there’s a time to die. There’s a time to weep; there’s a time to laugh. There’s a time to mourn, and there’s a time to dance.” That is the reality of human experience both in Christ and outside of Christ. But it is particularly, here, mentioned in this regard. When they find themselves, after the crucifixion, in despair, then they will display their sadness in their tears and in their lament.

We can’t delay on this, but it is perhaps useful just to make a little note in your notes: the disciples were not Stoics. They would not have been of fan of Henley’s “Invictus”—you know, “My head is bloody, but unbowed”; “I am the captain of my” salvation and my fate and so on. They were not like that at all—the idea that somehow or another, Christianity, the reality of who Jesus is and what He’s done, transforms us entirely from the experiences of life: from the sadnesses, the pains, the disappointments, the bereavements, the heartaches, all of that… The Christian experiences all of that. And Jesus legitimizes the tears by His own tears.

Watch, read, or listen to “From Sorrow to Joy”


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