"Those who sow in tears
Shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
Bearing the seed for sowing,
Shall come home with shouts of joy,
Bringing sheaves with him." Psalm 126:5-6
"Weeping may tarry for the night,
But joy comes with the morning. …
… You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloths,
That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" Psalm 30:5b, 11-12
Jesus sows in tears and reaps with joy. Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was a gardener. Indeed Christ is the Gardener. In fact, he himself is the Seed, prophesied of by God himself in the garden; the Seed promised to be at enmity with the ancient serpent, the enemy of God and all who belong to him; the Seed promised to crush the head of Satan; the Seed that would be sown with tears and bloody sweat.
Jesus sowed his very body and soul in tears; tears for the sins of mankind, tears for those for whom he prayed, "Father forgive them. For they know not what they do!"; tears that streamed down his cheeks as he cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"; tears for Jerusalem; tears for you and me; tears mixed with sweat and blood, poured into the earth crying for forgiveness.
These are not tears of despair and neither is the joy in Jesus' resurrection one of surprise. No, Jesus knew exactly what he was doing as he shed those tears for you. He was making the field ready to bear much fruit, as he himself said before his death, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24) And so our Lord knowingly fulfilled Scripture and his own words by dying for the sins of the world, for your sins and mine, by being sown into the ground, buried in the earth, dead, yet with the certain hope of rising from the dead and bearing much fruit. That fruit is you and me and all who believe in this Seed of Eve, sown into the ground for our sake.
When Christ rose from the dead, he fulfilled what was spoken by King David the prophet in Psalm 30,
"I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
And you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit." (Psalm 30:1-3)
Our sister Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. Like us she kept vigil for her Lord. We Christians weep. We mourn our sins. We mourn the pain our iniquities bring upon our Lord. We mourn the destruction of the world, which God created to be good. These are not tears of despair. Rather we sow with tears of faith as those humble, who will be exalted by God. We weep with Christ, rejecting the riches of this world, rejecting the fleeting pleasures of this life, so that we may reap a life much greater without sin or sadness, as Jesus said, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25)
Those who will not weep, who will not mourn their sins will not reap in joy. Many choose to rejoice in this life, and so they will lose it. Their joy will turn to sorrow.
And so we weep. We repent of our sins. We plead to God for forgiveness. And we rise out of the dirt forgiven and alive in Christ. And so even tonight is fulfilled in us what was spoken by the Psalmist,
"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongues with shouts of joy;
Then they said among the nations,
'The LORD has done great things for them.'
The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad." (Psalm 126:1-3)
Jesus was sown into the heart of the earth, fertilized and watered with his own tears, sweat, and blood. And he bore much fruit. You are that fruit. Jesus is your Gardener. He has sown you into his own tomb and watered you with his blood and tears, as St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) You have been united to Christ in his death and resurrection. You have been sown with him into the ground, with blood and tears. As surely as the baptismal waters washed you, so is this true. So in faith do you rise from the grave every day, sins forgiven. Your sins are buried in Jesus' tomb. Just as Christ rose justified before God the Father, so too do you stand with a right relationship with your God.
We Christians will continue to weep, because we continue to sin. And we continue to live in a world that hates our God and Savior. People continue to fall away from the faith, scandal continues to shake the church and our homes, and temptation and death prey on us. So we weep tears of faith, keeping vigil for our Lord, praying, "Thy kingdom come, forgive us our trespasses, lead us out of temptation, deliver us from evil." And every time we repent, God raises us up. And just as surely as God raised up Jesus after he was sown into the earth, so too will you be raised up. St. Paul preaches, "So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power." (1 Corinthians 15:42-43) And so you who die today will rise with Christ.
Weeping may tarry through the night, but joy comes in the morning. Morning is coming. You weep now, but your weeping will end. The prophecy of St. John is still yet to be fulfilled,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4)