Summary: We can’t avoid grief or change in this lifetime, fortunately both can lead to a better life.

Grief Leads to Joy, Change Leads to Blessings.

John 16:16-22 and Acts 2:42-47

I would like to start today with a story you may be familiar with.

“I was out fishing one day with my brother and we had been talking recently about a buzz down the river about this guy who was baptizing people and telling them to repent. We were curious but too busy to head down there and see for ourselves. Anyway, shortly after we threw in our nets, a man called from the shore and told us to follow him, that he would make us fishers of men. It was like a spell had come over us, and without even thinking, we just left our boat, our livelihood, and followed him.

For almost three years I rarely left this man’s side and hung on every word he said. Many others joined us, but I don’t think anyone loved him as much as I did. He taught us so much and his energy was unlike anything I could describe, all I wanted to do was be near him. After seeing what he could do and the amazing truth he was speaking I started to believe I could do just about anything with him.

He sent us out in a boat one evening after he materialized enough food for 5000 people. He was going to meet us on the other side of the lake in the morning. It was the middle of the night and the water was a little rough, when we saw what we thought was a ghost coming toward us on the water. We were absolutely terrified, but a voice told us not to be afraid, it was this man walking on the water. I jumped up and said ‘Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ As the adrenaline coursed through my body, He said come, and I stepped out of the boat. I was actually walking on the water when I thought to myself, what on earth am I doing! I was close to Him but as soon as I had this thought I started to sink. He helped me back on the boat and gently scolded me for my lack of faith. He didn’t need to though because I was already very disappointed with myself.

A few days later we were all hanging out near Caesaria Philippi when he asked who we thought he was, and it hit me like a brick – He was the Christ, the long awaited for Messiah! I blurted this out with such joy, and then Jesus called me a rock and that he would build his church upon me and give me the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. I had never felt so proud in my entire life.

I can’t describe to you how secure and loved we all felt during this time with him, …but then he started talking about leaving us and we just tried to keep denying it because we didn’t understand and couldn’t imagine life without him. Then as we were eating our Passover meal he said that one of us would betray him. I told everyone in the room ‘not on my watch’. I told Jesus I would die before I would betray or deny him, but to my dismay he knew better.

He brought us out to the garden and we were all exhausted and emotionally drained by Jesus’ words and all the food we ate. He took me and James and John off to pray as he often did and we just couldn’t stay awake. We finally were awoken by the sound of many people who were coming with Judas Iscariot. They were there to arrest Jesus so I took my sword and slashed at one them, just missing his head though I think I might have caught his ear. Jesus told me to put the sword down but I was furious.

They took him away and for the next couple of days I was so ashamed of my behavior and attitudes that confirmed what Jesus said about me. ….You know what happened next. After Jesus was buried we all gathered at a house, and to be honest I was numb, I felt like my life was over. ….Even though he prepared us for this, I had no idea what it would be like without him.

Could you imagine what the grief would have been like after spending three years with the Son of God and then boom He is gone. Can we think of anything that would be so sad and deflate your spirit so much? Maybe losing a child would be the closest thing. They lost their beloved shepherd and teacher and were ultimately called to kind of take His place - talk about a test of your confidence. How would you like to take over for God?

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