“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.” (John 16:31-32)
Scripture Reading – II Timothy 4:9-18
Pride blinds us to reality. It’s our proud hearts that can so easily deceive us into a false evaluation of ourselves, because we think more highly of ourselves than we should. Pride causes us to put confidence in ourselves to produce something rather than remembering that our fruit-bearing comes from abiding in Christ. Here, the disciples are in a precarious position. They think they have Jesus all figured out when, in fact, there is so much they have not yet understood. Soon Jesus will die and rise again. Finally, the disciples will know who Jesus truly is: the Son of God.
Jesus exposed the disciples’ pride—a pride that set them up to fall. Previously, He confronted Peter after his bold declaration that he would follow Jesus even though all the others deserted Him. Jesus ends up rebuking the disciples, telling them that they should be humble in their faith. The disciples’ belief is met head-on by an expression of doubt by Jesus: “Do you really believe?” Even though the disciples had faith, their faith was incomplete. They had confessed Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:41), but they had not yet understood that He was God (John 20:28). We, too, can become proud in our incomplete understanding of Jesus that we fail to recognize Who He truly is. Our pride blinds our minds to the truth about Jesus and about ourselves.
Jesus moved quickly to reveal the disciples’ incomplete faith. He challenged them by telling them that they don’t truly understand who He is and what His mission is. The proof is the disciples’ response once Jesus was arrested: they scattered. In their moment of distress, their faith became paralyzed because it was not rooted in Jesus as Lord. A follower of Jesus must be ready to die for Christ. If your faith is rooted in a Jesus who is merely a political Savior, you won’t be able to withstand the storms that arise when the political power turns again you. However, if your faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ, then whatever Satan throws at you won’t matter, because your faith will not falter. You will understand that in the same way Jesus laid down His life for you, you too will lay down your life for Him.
So, instead of fleeing, we can stand firm because the Risen Christ is our defender and. Even in the depths of His suffering, Jesus knew that He would endure because He knew that the Father would stay by the Son. The same is true of the Apostle Paul. Christians were increasingly being persecuted by the Roman government. As a result of this persecution, Paul was imprisoned in Rome awaiting his execution. Seeing Paul in prison, many Christians were either ashamed of the gospel or denying it altogether in order to save their lives. In spite of the many Christians who deserted him, Paul knew, even in this inhumane prison, that he was not alone. Paul wrote: “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me… But the Lord stood by me and strengthened meat through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (2 Tim. 4:16-17).
Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul teach us an important lesson: The Father doesn’t desert the gospel messenger even in the worst of circumstances. Paul’s only concern was that the gospel might fully be proclaimed. He was not concerned about his safety. He knew that God is faithful to His promises to us. We are commissioned to go out into to the world and proclaim the gospel and, as we do so, He promises to be with us always. Even in the worst of situations, God will never leave us. In times of trials, don’t rely on your own ideas of who Jesus is. Instead, put your hope in the living Christ as revealed in the Scriptures. Believe His promise that He willnever leave you. Will you stand firm?