Why are you crying?

by Johan du Preez
(Roodepoort, South Africa)

Ps 4:7 Lord, you have put joy in my heart, ……..
Ps 5:11 But let all those who put their faith in You be glad with cries of joy at all times……
Ps 16:11 You will make clear to me the way of life; where you are, joy is complete; ………
Ps 30:11 By you, my sorrow is turned into dancing; you have taken away my clothing of grief, and given me robes of joy;
Ps 35:9 And my soul will have joy in the Lord; it will be glad in his salvation.
Ps 51:12 Give me back the joy of your salvation; ……

God our father, it is with joy that we thank You for being able to meet once again in Your house and in Your presence. We think of those who are unable to join us tonight.
Please bless everyone involved in this teaching tonight, the music team, the IT person at the back, the stewards, Willem looking after our cars, the people who will minister to us through a cup of coffee or tea and last but not least, your family, the body here tonight in the church, your people. It is with joy that we ask you to move among us, to stir within us a new sense of joy.

Fill us anew with your spirit, so that we can experience Your joy, Your Love and Your Grace.
Lord God, as David wrote in Psalms, we can find JOY in You. You personally wipe away or tears and lift our spirits …. And we thank you for that.
Lord Jesus, we intercede tonight for all people who do not call on Your Name, your Holy name, as their Rock of Salvation and we ask You Holy Spirit, to work in their hearts, soften their hearts to hear Your calling. And also then to open the doors of their hearts, to invite You in and also experience Your joy.
We pray all of this in the Almighty name of Jesus Christ.

Notices: Hotdogs / muffins after teaching..
The music team will now lead us in their music ministry…..
The stewards will wait upon you for the offering

The question we are dealing with tonight is: Why are you crying?
We read from John 20 : 7 – 16
Mary Magdalene...a true, committed servant, found herself in a heart-wrenching plight. Because she followed the Lord so closely, her service took her to the scene of the cross, standing at a distance with the other women, looking on the crucifixion. It then propelled her to His burial site, observing where His linen-wrapped body was laid. She and the other women with her went home to prepare the burial spices and fragrant oils, resting the next day on the Sabbath.

After the Sabbath, on that first Easter Sunday morning, in the early morning hours, Mary Magdalene found her way through the dark city streets of Jerusalem. Carrying only a small oil lamp to light her way, she was joined by Joanna, Salome, and Mary, the mother of James. They left the city, finding their way to the garden where Jesus had been buried.

The first glints of sunlight peeked over the horizon as the women drew near the tomb. Blurry-eyed from their tears of grief, they entered the garden, carrying the spices to anoint Jesus’ body.

While the other women waited outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene stooped down to look inside, in search of her Saviour.
Two angels, one at each end of where Jesus lay, first asked Mary the question: Woman, why do you weep? At this stage, she is inside the tomb and answers:
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.”

Imagine for a moment her anguish and confusion. Not only had her Lord and Master been crucified, but now, someone has stolen His body….
Then something makes her turn. She sees a man whom she takes for the gardener. He repeats the angels' question. "Woman, why do you weep?" She begins to plead with him to tell her where Jesus had been taken, but her eyes are not on him. Gently he speaks her name. "Mary!" Again she turns to look at him, and now she recognises her Lord. "Rabboni!"

Mary and the other disciples were close to Jesus and strong in their faith. Yet they had trouble understanding that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, just as the scriptures had indicated he would, and as he himself had promised.
In our weakness, and in our troubles, it is easy to see the black side of things and not understand the bright things. God, however, "causes all things to work together for our good" (Rom 8:28). And of course we weep.

Jesus’ question to Mary reminds us that tears are okay. Tears reflect the fact that we are vulnerable, fallible and fragile human beings. Jesus knows this very well and during His Sermon on the Mount He pronounced a special blessing on those who mourns.
He Himself was no stranger to tears – When He saw the grief of Mary and Martha for their brother Lazarus, Jesus wept.
He does not say to them “Come now, put a stop to your tears, be strong now” – No, He reaches out to them in their hour of anguish and heartache.

Many of us, especially men, feel uncomfortable with our tears. Deep down we regard it as a sign of weakness. Or maybe perhaps we have become so hardened in our hearts that we have forgotten how to cry.
But we should not let our pride or our tears blind us to the goodness and glory of God who always brings us joy out of our sorrows!

The Word of God is so wonderful, but a lot of times we miss the little things, the little hints, left there by God….
The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes. WHY?

Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.

Was that important? Absolutely!
Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.
When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.

The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.
Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the crumpled napkin meant, 'I'm done'.

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because..........

The folded napkin meant, 'I'm coming back!'

He is Coming Back!!!!
So, even though our sorrows might last a lifetime on earth, the joy of heaven will be unending.
One day we will look through our tears and see the bright face of Him who will end all our weeping forever. And we will say, "Rabboni!"

Shall we pray…..
Yes Lord, we experience tears and sadness through many experiences and losses;
We cry because we are missing loved ones, because our relationships are not what they should be, because financially we are struggling, because our health is failing, because we sometimes feel very alone and afraid of what the future holds for us and our children.

But Lord Jesus, we thank You for showing us the folded napkin, placed one side, the blessed assurance that You will return, You are preparing a place for us and You will come back.
Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again – and on that we can depend.

We have in You: Hope for the future, hope for healing, hope for our families and the futures of our children and most of all, Hope for everlasting life, a glorious future for all believers in Your precious Name.
Closing song and Benediction

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