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Well, good morning, Christ Covenant. Good to be with you today.
If you have your Bibles, let’s turn our attention to God’s Word now. As many of you know, we are now in the gospel of John and today we are actually in John 16, so as you’re turning to John 16, I’d just remind us, particularly for those who are visiting with u, we’ve been making our way through this sermon series and the gospel of John for the last few months. In fact, we’ve been on-again, off-again in that series and now back at it, and really picking up in chapter 13 with what’s known as the upper room discourse where Jesus lays out His final words to His disciples at the last supper, and now, and if you’ve been there you’ve seen this, Jesus is now in what we call the garden discourse, what we think is probably His time in the garden at Gethsemane before He has his moment of sorrow, where He’s given His disciples his final farewell words.
And this is on the eve of His death. Jesus is about to die the very next day, and this is part of what He wants to leave with His disciples. So we’re here now, now in John chapter 16, verses 16 through 33.
Now this is a long passage. I want to already alleviate your concerns as we get started. I’m not going to try to say everything about every verse in this passage. So everyone can take a deep breath right there, right? But there are some wonderful things in here, so let’s listen to see what God has to say to us here.
John 16, verses 16 through 33.
“‘A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.’ So some of the disciples said to one another, ‘What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?’ So they were saying, ‘What does He mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.’ Now Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him, so He said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.'”
“‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.'”
“His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that You know all things and do not need anyone to question You; this is why we believe that You came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.'”
And here we come to the last verse, and I want you to hear it in particular this morning. This is what Christ says.
“‘I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.'”
Let’s pray and ask God to bless His Word this morning. Let’s pray.
Lord, we confess that this is a difficult passage, Lord, warnings of trials and tribulations. Lord, we know we need to hear it. We don’t want to hear it, but Lord we pray that You would open our eyes to the great encouragement locked in, even hidden, within these words, that we can have peace in the midst of a fallen world. We pray all this in Christ’s name. Amen.
Well, we’ve all heard it. In fact, we’ve probably all even said it at some point in our life, usually when we become adults and usually in the early years of our adulthood we utter the words we never thought we would say, and it’s the words “I didn’t think my life would turn out this way.” In fact, everyone says it at some point and they’ve heard other people say it and usually it happens right after a major trial or tribulation, right after a moment of sorrow, after a piece of difficulty, after something in your life breaks, and you realize that’s not the way you thought it would be.
No long ago, in fact, I was sitting in a counseling session with a woman who had just discovered that her husband had been unfaithful for many, many years of her marriage, if not most of her marriage. And she found that she was now staring into the eyes of a divorce situation and she looked at me as if to say, “I didn’t expect my life to turn out this way.”
Also recently I was having a conversation with a young couple who a number of years ago had found out their 3-year-old son was diagnosed unexpectedly with brain cancer. And after many surgeries and many moments of trial and tribulation, the son made it through but yet has medical conditions that will last the rest of his life and in a sense they looked at me and said, “You know what? We didn’t, we didn’t expect our life to turn out this way.”
And then recently I was also meeting with another young couple whose teenage son who had sort of lost his way spiritually. In fact, their son had come to them and said “I no longer believe the Gospel, I’m giving up the faith, I’m pursuing an alternative lifestyle,” and they came to talk with me about it and in one sense they were saying, “We did not expect our life to turn out this way.”
And you hear those stories, and those are hard. Those are painful stories. They raise all kinds of questions. Usually the first sorts of questions we ask about stories like that are questions about God, and certainly they raise a number of questions about God, but they also raise a number of questions about us this morning. They raise questions about whether we’re ready for the trials of tribulations that are coming our way. They raise questions about whether we’re really prepared for life in a fallen world. Are we really ready to follow Christ faithfully in the midst of all those challenges?
And perhaps the biggest question of all of those things when we hear stories like that, is why are we so surprised when suffering comes our way?
Indeed, that’s exactly the situation the disciples were in here in this passage we just read. Remember, Jesus is about to go away, He’s about to suffer and die on the cross the very next day and He knows His disciples are in for trials and tribulations they could never anticipate, they could never have known, and they could never have seen. And Jesus says, “These final words have a very simple goal for you and I want to comfort you and give you preparation to face those trials.”
That’s in essence what this passage is all about. There’s a lot here. As I’ve already said we’re not going to try to do everything in this text. There’s a lot of different things in this passage, but the thread that runs through it is that just like Jesus’ disciples, He wants to come to us today and say, “I know you’re going to face trials and tribulations, I know you’re going to face suffering. You don’t even realize it yet, but you need to be ready.”
Now, truth be told, when we read a passage like this today, we’re thinking to ourselves, “Can’t we just skip a passage every now and then?” I mean, is that so bad if we’re in a sermon series, I mean, if this is a passage that’s about a theology of suffering and maybe in our minds we don’t really want a theology of suffering. If we’re honest with ourselves this morning, we don’t really want to think about suffering. That’s something that always happens to other people. Until it doesn’t. And then we find ourselves faced with that life we didn’t expect.
And Jesus knows something that we need to hear this morning and understand very clearly. It’s suffering, it’s trials, that perhaps more than anything else, is a reason that people lose their way in the Christian life. Above all the things you could list, intellectual reasons, intellectual objections, all kinds of other problems they may face, time and time again it’s been shown that it’s trials and suffering that end up taking people off the course and into a different direction in their life, and Jesus knows therefore that we need more than anything to be comforted and to be prepared in the midst of those trials.
To do that, Jesus actually in this passage, although it’s long it has a very simple message for us, so I’m just going to say it at the beginning as we get started and then we are going to unpack it. Here’s Jesus’ message for us today. It’s, it’s like this. He’s going to say first trials are inevitable, they will come. Secondly, they’re temporary, they won’t last forever. And thirdly, yes, even though you don’t think so, you can have peace in the midst of them.
So yes, trials are inevitable, they will happen.
Secondly they’re, they’re temporary, they won’t go on forever.
And finally, you, yes, you can, even though you don’t believe it, even though and sometimes I don’t believe it, yes, you can have peace in the midst of them.
Those are the principles that Jesus will be laying out in this passage this morning.
So let’s dive into the very first of those three today, and He starts with the hardest, He starts with the most foundational, the most difficult, trials are inevitable. This is arguably the place to begin, even though it doesn’t go chronologically in a passage like this, in a sense this is where Jesus begins. He knows this is the most essential thing to understand, the most foundational thing to get, it’s the very thing we have to get into our minds that we don’t want to let into our minds because we often refuse to believe it or admit it, but yes, trials at some point, suffering at some point, will enter in to your life.
In fact, Jesus says it in that very key verse at the end there. Look down with me at verse 33. This classic, famous verse. Look at the very middle clause there, the one we wish we could in one sense cut out. Look what it says: “In the world, you will have tribulation.”
Jesus doesn’t say that, well, it’s maybe more statistically likely than not that you’ll have tribulation. He doesn’t say, well, you know, given all the statistics and so forth this is probably going to happen, or maybe it will happen. No, Jesus is very plain here. Not that it might happen, but it will absolutely inevitably take place.
Now make no mistake about it. Jesus is not saying in this passage that all of life is suffering. No, life has many wonderful and great things about it. He’s not saying that all your life will be trials and tribulations. Moreover, He’s also not saying that all people suffer equally. Some people suffer more than others. Some have worse trials than others. Not everybody is Job.
But, trials are so certain that He knows that we at least need to know they will eventually come and will you be ready.
It’s an interesting word Jesus chooses here. In the ESV it’s translated “tribulation,” but it can really refer to a variety of different kinds of things that we face in the world. It can certainly refer to trials or afflictions or persecutions or sufferings, or if you just want to whittle it all down, it’s just that you’ll face trouble.
In fact, I love how the NIV does it here in this passage. If you’re used to growing up with the NIV, the way they put is actually quite good. The NIV puts it this way: “In this world you will have trouble.”
And of course that would include everything you might expect it to include. Disease, sickness, death, accidents, financial hardships, relational brokenness, loss of a job, infertility… Just about anything that you can think of and that many of you I know right now are dealing with here at Christ Covenant this morning.
But with all those general trials and tribulations, in Jesus’ final words to His disciples though, He has one particular thing, though, He wants to warn them about. Yes, it’s true that there’s general trials and tribulations for all of us coming our way, but for His disciples there’s a specific thing on the way they don’t know is happening, and you can see this in the very first verse of the passage.
Look at the beginning there in verse 16. Notice Jesus says to them, “A little while, and you will see Me no longer.” Ah, in this instance Jesus is saying, “Yeah, I know life is filled with all kinds of trials, but you don’t realize it yet, My disciples, but there is a, a freight train of suffering hurling down the tracks at you and you don’t even know it’s coming, and the reality is soon you will be in some of the most deep pain, sorrow you have ever been in because I will be taken from you. You will see me no longer.”
Now make no mistake about it here, Jesus is cryptic here in His language, but this is no doubt referring to the fact that the very next day He’s going to be taken from them, killed, crucified, murdered, strung up for the whole world to see,” and He’s saying “you’re going to suffer in ways you never possibly knee you could when that happens to Me.”
In fact, we see Him say this very plainly in verse 20. Look down there as He lays out the suffering for His disciples. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and you will lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful.”
Now truth be told, we, we don’t really pay much attention to this sorrow, do we, in the life of the disciples. Those three days before the resurrection that they would have to deal with the death of their Lord. We tend to dismiss it, we tend to minimize it, we play it down, we think to ourselves, “Oh, come on, guys. It’s just three days. Jesus is going to rise anyway. We all know how the story ends.” We, we pat the disciples on the head and say, “Well, it’ll be just fine, not such a big deal,” but Jesus knows, and we need to know, that in the middle of that trial, they didn’t know how it was going to end. For them, this was a defeat of fantastic proportions. Their Lord, their Messiah, their friend, their hope, their everything, was dead and buried in a tomb with a stone rolled over it. It was over.
You can almost imagine the disciples looking at each other in the upper room and saying, “You know what? I didn’t expect it to turn out this way.”
And there’s where we come to the key question. Jesus wants us to know trials are intervention. Here’s the thing you may not have ever really asked yourself: Why is He so keen to tell us?
Ever wonder that? Why, why does Jesus go out of His way on the night before His death to tell the disciples, and effectively to tell us, that trials are inevitable? Why doesn’t He just keep it to Himself?
You ever wonder whether Jesus thought in His mind, “Well, look, you know, maybe ignorance is bliss,” and “I shouldn’t really tell these disciples,” and “Yeah, I know trials are coming, but they don’t know trials are coming, and let’s just keep it on the down low and I’ll just make them think life’s going to be perfect and I won’t bother telling them,” and maybe that’s the way you wish it had gone. Maybe you think, “That’s what I wish Jesus would say. I wish He would just not tell us. I don’t want to know.”
But here’s the oddity. There’s a sense in which Jesus in a profound, even paradoxical way, knows that even though trials are hard, even though it’s hard to hear, there’s something comforting about knowing. There’s something comforting that we need to hear to know that trials are inevitable.
What is that thing? It’s simply this, and here’s the essence of why He is keen to tell us this: Once we know that suffering is a normal, ordinary part of the world we live in and the Christian life, we’re no longer surprised and distressed as if unusual and strange things were happening to us.
I’m going to say that again, because this is the heartbeat of what Jesus is getting at: Once we know that suffering is the normal, ordinary part living a Christian life in a fallen world, then we’re no longer surprised and distressed as if something unusual were happening to us.
To put it another way, once you know trouble is coming, you’re not going to be troubled by the trouble.
In one sense, Jesus here is managing our expectations. And let’s be honest this morning, we kind of need that, don’t we? Our expectations managed?
It’s almost like Jesus is coming to us and saying, “Now, hold on a second. Let me get this straight. So did you really think that you would live your whole life in a problem-free way? I mean, you live in a fallen, broken world marred by sin, you’re following a savior that Himself has suffered immensely, you are living in a world that’s hostile to the Gospel, and on top of this you’re reading the Bible that’s filled with stories of God’s people suffering from Genesis to Revelation, and yet did you not see it coming?”
Now, make no mistake here, Jesus is not calling us to live lives as pessimists. He’s not saying, “Oh, walk around all the time paranoid.” He’s not saying walk around just waiting for the other shoe to drop, always waiting for the worst. That’s not what He’s saying. What He is saying, though, is that trouble at some point in some way is inevitable, and will you be ready when it comes?
Now, if you were to put this in modern theological language, about what the disciples are suffering from here and what we suffer from when we have this sort of, sort of Pollyanna view of the world, it’s in theological terms called an over-realized eschatology. How’s that for a phrase this morning? Over-realized eschatology.
You and I, and I include myself in this, says Jesus, suffer from an over-realized eschatology. What does that mean? That means that we act and sort of live as if the world we’re currently should behave like the world one day Jesus will bring perfectly. That we live in this world like we expect it to behave like the world we know will come someday in glory, and then when we live that way, we’re perpetually frustrated, perpetually disappointed, always in despair, and Jesus is saying that’s not the expectation you ought to have. You don’t live in the new heavens and the new earth yet.
So a sense in which Jesus wants to prepare us by knowing that that trial and tribulation is inevitable.
You know, it’s not that different than what happens when you fly on an airplane and the captain comes the airplane to tell you that this flight may not be as smooth as you wanted it to be. In fact, just this week I was in Kansas City, Missouri doing some lectures there for Midwestern Seminary and I was on my way back Wednesday night and this dawned on me as I was mulling over this passage in my mind, God gave me a living, breathing illustration on the plane.
And if you’re like me and you fly a lot, one of the things you don’t like on planes is turbulence. Man, I don’t like turbulence. I always feel like the plane is just going just fall apart and fall out of the sky and break in half and it’s a miserable experience and your stomach sinks. And we’re coming in for approach in Charlotte and the captain comes on and says, “Hold on, I want you to know I’m putting on the seatbelt sign a little early ’cause we’re starting our descent and it’s gonna get, it’s gonna get rough.”
Now in one sense I’m thinking to myself why did you just tell me that? Now I gotta worry. Right? But on the other hand, I’m like, well, I’m glad he told he me that. Why? Because the essence of the message is simple: When you fly, you eventually will hit turbulence. It doesn’t mean every flight is rough, it doesn’t mean every flight will be that way, but you’re eventually going to hit it. Sometimes it will be severe, you will be miserable, you will hate it. But you know something? That’s flying. And eventually you make it through.
It’s the sense in which Jesus is coming to us like the captain on the plane and saying, “You know what? In this world you’re going to hit some turbulence. Buckle your seatbelt. It’s part of life in the here and now.”
Now, as soon as we let this sink in, this first point, here’s what’s amazing about it. As much as it’s news we don’t want to hear, once you know that trials are inevitable, it’s, it can be incredibly liberating in the Christian life. It can be incredibly freeing. Here’s why. I think we live under the illusion sometimes that the Christian life should be easy. I mean, aren’t I following the God of the universe? I mean, shouldn’t it work out well for me? And if we’re good Christians, wouldn’t we always be successful and healthy and wealthy? What’s wrong with me if it doesn’t go that way? I wonder sometimes whether there’s a little more prosperity gospel in our minds than we’re willing to admit.
And Jesus in this first point is saying, “Look, I’m not trying to make you pessimists, I’m not trying to make you scared of the world, but I am trying to let you know that you’re not in heaven yet. Trials will come. And that can set you free.” And here’s now, is that now you know you don’t have to show up on a Sunday morning thinking, “Well, I guess I must not be doing it right, ’cause my life’s kinda falling apart right now, and I certainly don’t want to tell anybody that my life’s falling apart because that’s not what Christianity is about anyway, right?”
Well, no. In this world you will have trouble. You can come in to Christ Covenant and say, “You know what? My life is, is really hard right now. I’m hurting badly right now.” And there’s a sense in which that is a normal part of the Christian life, and that allows us to comfort and care for each other as we walk through those things.
Now, of course, what’s wonderful about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t just want to stop there. That would not be a very upbeat text, right? Trials are inevitable. Let’s pray. No, that’s not what you want, right? You’re thankful there’s two more points here.
Let’s look at a second one here. Trials are inevitable, secondly they will be temporary. They will be temporary. They won’t last forever. Yes, Jesus wants you to know they’ll come, but they won’t always be there. Like any storm, it eventually will end. The clouds will part. The sun will come back out again. And Jesus says your joy will be restored.
I want you to notice verse 20 with me when He says this to the disciples. Notice again what He says here, bad news before the good news: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and you will lament, the world will rejoice, you will be sorrowful, but… ” If you’ve read the Bible enough in the Christian life you know this, some of the most wonderful verses, everything hinges on the “but,” right?
Yes, it’s gonna be a tough world. Yes, you’re gonna have trouble. But, look what Jesus says, “Your sorrow will turn into joy.”
I want you to catch what’s remarkable here about the hope Jesus is giving us here, and it’s not even just what you think it is. Jesus is saying yes, you’re suffering is temporary, yes, whatever you’re going through as a trial will eventually end. But that’s the whole point. The point isn’t just that it will stop, the point is it will be reversed. And you will have joy. It’s not just that the sufferings will end, but positively in their place joy and a deeper joy than otherwise could be achieved without the suffering will be yours.
And so God makes a promise here to redeem the situation, to turn it around, to eventually someday set all things right.
Now, of course, for the disciples, this was going to happen in this narrow context in just a few days. Their joy would be returned to them when Jesus rose again. And obviously our situation is different than that. But there’s a general principle here that I think applies to us now. That general principle is this, is that there’s a joy on the other side of suffering that is deeper than could have been without the suffering.
In fact, Jesus gives us the perfect illustration here. He provides one Himself, I love it. You remember what he says down in verses 21 and 22, it could not pick a better illustration of childbirth. Look what He says in verse 21: “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”
Remember, this was before epidurals, right? So this is a big, this is a big statement.
And verse 22, “So also,” here’s the comparison, “so also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.” Nothing better than a birth illustration to get this across.
In fact, as I reflected on this passage this week, I couldn’t help but think of the birth of our first child Emma. And it was a unique situation because she was actually born in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was our first child and we were having our first child in a foreign country, and we were having our first child in foreign healthcare in a strange place and we had our first child completely and utterly alone. It was just me and my wife, no family, of course, because you’re all the way across the ocean, having this child, and it was a rough labor. Thirty-six hours of labor for my wife Melissa as we brought Emma into the world. And I’ve got to say, Melissa was amazing in this, strong, courageous, so incredible. On the other hand, I was not any of those things. She was amazing; I was a wreck during the whole experience. In fact, and let this sink in, at one point the nurse looks at Melissa and says, pointing to me, “Is he going to be okay?” [laughter]
Yes, I was one of those husbands that when it was all over I was like, “Wow, I never want to go through that again.”
But when it was all over, we held Emma in our arms, she looked up at us and blinked, and I thought, “Wow,” and I’m sure Melissa thought, “Wow, all of it was worth it.”
There’s something about being in the darkness that makes the light brighter when it does finally break.
In fact, as I pondered this even more this week, I couldn’t help but think of this amazing scene, and those of you who know the books will love this scene in Lord of the Rings at the very end, and this isn’t even in the movie, and if you’re only a movie person, you will never see this, but at the end when it looks like Sam and Frodo are going to die, Sam finds himself waking up unexpectedly at the end of the book in Elrond’s house when all has been set right. And Tolkien captures this joy after the sorrow amazingly, because if you’ve read Lord of the Rings it is a volume filled with darkness and death and great loss. In fact, at one point Sam thought well, surely, we’re all going to die. And here’s what Tolkien writes, and I want you to listen to these words, because it captures it perfectly.
He says this: “But Sam lay back and stared with open mouth, and for a moment between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last, he gasped, ‘Gandalf, I thought you were dead, but then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’ ‘A great shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music or like water in a parched land, and as he listened, a thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter or the pure sound of merriment for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer. His tears ceased and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed. ‘How do I feel,’ he cried. ‘Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel,’ he waved his arms in the air, ‘I feel like spring after winter, sun on the leaves, and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard.'”
That, that is the promise. Someday, whatever your trial you’re in will end, and God will restore the joy that He promises.
Now, of course as you hear that promise today I know what you’re thinking in your head, because I’m thinking it, too: Okay, fine, but, but how long? How long til that day is mine?
You know, what’s interesting if you ask that question you’re not alone because that’s exactly the question the disciples asked. I don’t know if you caught it, but I want you to look down in your passage at verse 18 again and notice what happens here in verse 18: “The disciples were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’?”
Notice what Jesus had just said to them: You’re going to suffer for a little while, I’m going to be gone from you, and this is going to be a lamenting and weeping and sorrow, and they’re like, “Jesus, sorry, here, let me raise my hand. I’ve just got one small question for you. Um, how long’s a little while?”
If Jesus told you you’re going to suffer for a little while, you’d probably want to know what He meant. Jesus doesn’t tell them.
Now, of course in this scenario, we know that really it would only be three days. For the disciples in three days this particular trial, there’d be others, but this particular trial would be over.
But everyone’s situation is different. For some of you today, whatever you’re going through, your trial will maybe last only a few days. Some of you it will be months, some of you it will be years, some of you it may be a trial you have to endure for the rest of your life. But it doesn’t change our hope. Someday, whether it’s at Christ’s second coming or when He takes you home or He gives you relief before that, our trials will end, and they will be followed by God-given joy.
You know what it does do when you realize that? It actually changes your perspective on the life you live. I mean, let’s be honest, most of us live our life and the focus of our life is on the present. We’re occupied with the things we’re facing now. But once you realize you have a hope like that, that now your perspective shifts and now you think not so much about the present but about the future. Not so much about, about earth, but you think about heaven. And nothing will transform your life like longing and hoping for glory in heaven. But someday it will be done and the joy will be restored.
But, of course, Jesus isn’t done. He’s got one more thing to encourage us with here. Yes, trials are inevitable, we got that. Yes, they won’t last forever, joy will be ours someday on the back end. We don’t know when that will be, but it is a promise He will keep. But you might be wondering what about in the present? What about now? What do I do now, as I wait for the trial to end?
Well, this is where three comes in. Jesus says yes, they will eventually end, but until they end, you can have peace even now in the midst of them, and beyond that I would say the passage points to not just peace, but even joy now, a joy that’s a down payment, a taste of the joy that will ultimately be ours in glory and in heaven.
In other words, don’t despair even in the midst of your trials, peace really can be yours.
Look back down at verse 33 in our passage where Jesus lays out this amazing promise. Here’s what He says: “I have said these things to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Now, Jesus is promising peace to us here in the midst of our trials. There’s a couple things you need to know about this peace before we sort of let it fully sink in. Here’s one thing you need to know about this peace: This peace doesn’t mean your trials are over.
The kind of peace Jesus is promising here is counter-intuitive to our modern minds. We think the only way you get peace is to change your circumstances. The only way you get peace is to somehow do away with your problems. The only way to really get peace is for it all to end, and so we spend all our energy and all our time trying to change our circumstances, change our situation, get out from under the trials thinking that’s the path to peace, and Jesus says, “Hold on a second, there’s actually another path to peace, even in the midst of the trials. Through Me you can have peace even while they rage around you. Don’t think you have to just change your situation to have the kind of peace I’m talking about.”
You know, there’s no better illustration of this than Jesus Himself. One of my favorite scenes in the gospels is when the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee and they’re caught in a storm and they’re scared to death, and it’s raging all around them and the wind and the waves are whipping, and what does Jesus doing in the front of the boat? He is sleeping. He actually lives out the very illustration He’s saying, is that you don’t have to wait for the storm to end. He embodies this remarkable paradox that you can have peace in the midst of the storm.
It reminds me actually of a number of years ago when my family vacationed at the beach and we’d been looking forward to our beach trip the entire summer and we finally got to our beach trip and we’re about halfway through it and all of a sudden I start noticing these weather reports on the news. Turns out, an actual hurricane was headed right for us and our beach trip. And we thought to ourselves, wait a second. Is this really happening? We’re at the beach, we’re at the coast, and a hurricane’s headed our way. And it turns out it was only a Cat 1 and so we thought, well, we’ll just ride it out here, and by the time it made landfall it was a Cat 2 and it was raging and serious and power outage and wind and flooding and the whole bit.
But here’s what remarkable. The hurricane hit us so exactly that the eye wall hit us where we were, so that this all this wind, all this waves, and all of a sudden it’s just [sound effect] stops. And we walked outside and had a look around, and we thought, now this is amazing. I know there’s a storm raging all around us, but in this little moment, in this little spot, there’s peace. There’s quiet. It’s like a bubble of protection all around you.
Jesus comes to us in this passage and says the kind of peace I’m giving you here isn’t minus the storm, isn’t minus the tribulation, you can have peace with a, with a, with a wrapping of the Spirit around you even in the midst of the trials now. And that, that leads to the other thing about this peace for you to know, and this is the fundamental driving point of the whole passage: This is a peace that only comes through Christ. This is a peace that only comes through Christ.
Look again at verse 33. If you missed it, don’t miss it: “I’ve said these things to you that in Me, in Me you may have peace.”
Oh, make no mistake about it, the kind of peace Jesus is talking about here is, is not a therapeutic peace, it is not a peace from just being good at getting some alone time or some me time. This is not meditation peace or self-help peace. No, this is, this is divinely granted peace. This is miraculous peace. This is a spiritual gift kind of peace. This peace only comes from someone who knows and loves Jesus Christ. Why does Jesus Christ give you peace? Jesus tells us at the end of the passage, “Because I’m the only one that’s overcome the world.”
This word “overcome” is amazing. It’s the word “conquer.” “I have conquered the world, the very thing you feel conquered by in your suffering, the very thing you can’t deal with, the very thing that’s holding you down, the very thing that’s crushing you, this fallen world, the thing that’s destroying you, I have conquered, I have beaten. And if you have someone you know that loves you and that you love and His spirit lives in you, that’s the kind of person that can give you peace.”
Jesus beat the world through His life, through His death, through His resurrection, through His ascension. He reigns supreme over everything in it, even the thing that you’re suffering from today, He reigns supreme over it, and He works all things for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
Now, you may be here this morning and you may know Christ, and that’s great hope, but there’s some, I’m confident, that are here this morning that don’t know Christ. Maybe you’re in suffering, maybe you’re not. I can promise you that suffering will come to you even if you don’t know Christ today, and the question is where will you turn? What will you do?
You know, you have to realize that the world is broken because of sin. That’s the reason the world doesn’t work rightly. That’s the reason suffering happens, so the only way you’re going to beat the world is if you have someone whose dealt with the problem of sin, and the only person whose dealt with the problem of sin is our Lord Jesus Christ, which He is the source and the only hope for our peace.
You know, as we sort of bring this to a close today, those three things all hang together. Yeah, you’ve got to know trials are coming because they’re inevitable, but they won’t last forever, they’re temporary, and there is joy on the other side we can hope in, and then even in the midst of those, we can find peace.
But you know what I think is appropriate for us to end on here is Jesus’ final exhortation to His disciples. You saw it there is verse 3; I love this and it’s what we need to be sent out with as we leave Christ Covenant today. Jesus uses this phrase “Take heart.” I know you’re beat down, I know you’re weak, I know you’re suffering, I know you’re hurting, but take heart.
The old King James actually captures the Greek here pretty well. The phrase “take heart” literally is rendered “be of good cheer.” What an amazing statement. In the middle of all your suffering, be of good cheer. Now, if your friend told you that, you would probably dismiss it, you’re like, well, you know, my friend’s always trying to cheer me up and they say be of good cheer, but what, you know, they don’t really have any power to fix my problem, thank you for the sentiment.
But, ah, but what if the Lord of the universe, who’s in charge of everything, who’s conquered the world looks at you and says, “Be of good cheer.” Well, now you have a reason, the greatest reason in the world, to be of good cheer.
So here as we go this morning from Christ Covenant, no matter what circumstances you’re in, no matter what trials you’re doing, in Christ is the victory and we leave with this exhortation, “Take heart, be of good cheer, for He and He alone, He has overcome the world.” Amen and amen.
Let’s pray together. Lord, we confess that we hear this message and don’t always know how to let it in. Lord, we confess that we don’t even want to think about suffering, sometimes even when we’re in suffering we don’t want to think about suffering. But Lord, there’s hope here. Give us not just encouragement and peace today but preparation, Lord, that we might be prepared to handle whatever comes our way, we might be able to trust and lean on Christ, the great author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured amazing suffering so He could sit down in triumph at the right hand of God the Father. Give us that peace today, we pray. In Christ’s precious name. Amen.