Today’s reading is John 16 and Ps 118
John 16 is mostly comprised of Jesus telling His disciples about plans for the future, what they should expect and what they will experience, and what will happen to Himself. None of this is easy news for the disciples to hear or grasp. I sort of feel like after a short three years of time with Jesus, they might just be getting the hang of how to do ministry with Him. They might just be beginning to understand God’s power in themselves and the call to bring the good news to the rest of the world. They are just now figuring out their role in traveling with Jesus and teaching with Him. …and then Jesus sits down with them for a discussion and everything changes.
Jesus tells His disciples that they will be kicked out of the synagogues, people will be trying to kill them, they will be scattered, each one going his own way and worst of all Jesus is leaving them. They are so taken back by this news that they don’t even think to ask Him where He is going. They are shellshocked and can only deal with how this is affecting their lives. Then Jesus continues by saying that it is actually best for them if He goes away. How can this be? He IS the ministry, how can they continue to teach and convert people to faith in Him if He is not with them?
We know the end of the story. We know that God’s plan is that Jesus gives His life to pay for our sin so we can be made clean and new. We know that His perfect blood draining from His body is what pays the price to purchase us and make it possible for us to be in God’s presents. We know that we live with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit in us every day. These poor disciples have their entire world flopped upside-down in one conversation and they don’t seem real comfortable or confident in the new plans. They don’t understand. I can only guess that in their minds they are wondering why everything can’t just stay as is, and why they can’t continue Jesus ministry WITH Him. They can’t see God’s plan. We have a different vantage point to view this chapter, and boy are we grateful that God completed His plan and made a way for us to be with Him.
How often are we scared, sad or frustrated with our circumstances because they don’t make sense to us? We don’t understand why we are going through this pain or hardship. It doesn’t make sense that God would allow us to land where we have landed. Surely He hasn’t seen how this affects us? This seems harsh, but sometimes the stuff we face isn’t about us. Jesus was accomplishing He and His Father’s plan to save all of mankind. Even though He loves His friends dearly, and knows how hard these circumstances will be for them to live through, He still needs to finish the plan. So knowing the disciples’ fear, frustration and questions, Jesus says three things to them in this chapter to help them through this really hard time.
1, vs 12 “I want to tell you so much more, but you can’t bear it now.” He knows how they feel. He sees their fear, and feels their frustration. He wants to help them through this with more information but He knows that more information is too much for them to take right now so He protects them from more than they can handle.
2, vs 22 “You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” Again, He knows how they feel after this news, but He gives them hope. He tells them that it will get hard, but He will see them again and their joy will be great.
Finally 3, vs 33 “I have told you all of this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Who can comfort us this way, with these powerful words? No one but God! Knowing that we will face hard things, He wants us to have His peace. He assures us that no matter how hard our lives are, eternity is with Him because He has overcome the world. Does this truth make our lives easier? Does it remove the sting of pain when life is hard? Does it take away our frustration when we feel we have been wronged? We still have to live through the pain, frustration and fear on earth but we have hope. Heb 6:18-19 tells us, “ We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”