“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.” (John 16:33)
Scripture Reading – I John 2:15-17
After concluding His teaching with a summary of His mission, Jesus encouraged to His disciples. Followers of Jesus can expect to have trials in this world. After all, the world is against Christ so it is against us. Until Christ returns, we will continue to be opposed by the world. Satan will use all that is in his arsenal to oppose us, so that the gospel does not spread. Jesus states the obvious. As long as we are still in this world, we can expect trials and tribulations. It’s amazing that in light of Jesus’ clear teaching on suffering, the church teaches very little on persecution. Some people believe that if we speak about persecution, many disciples will turn back and not stay the course. Believing in Jesus doesn’t mean you will have no more problems. It’s because you believe in Jesus, that the world will fight against you, but Jesus is always with you and is victorious.
We don’t have the strength to oppose the world ourselves. When Jesus was arrested, the disciples were filled with fear and fled. They ran away at the first sign of opposition. Why did they do that? They forgot that Jesus had overcome the world. We can stand firm in our tribulations, not because of our strength or performance, but because of the completed work of Christ on the cross. Satan, death, and sin have all been defeated forever. Satan tried to tempt Jesus not to fulfill the Father’s plan by dying on the cross. Jesus, however, obeyed the Father and, in so doing, overcame the world. This victory was shared with Jesus’ disciples. Although He had not yet died on the cross, He knew that He would not fail in His mission.
The summary of Jesus’ mission is this: The world will oppose you, but Jesus is victorious. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). The power of hell cannot prevail over the gospel. Jesus has taken His rightful place on His heavenly throne and will continue to reign throughout all eternity. So let’s get out there and start witnessing! Jesus has given us a task to do and has given us everything we need to do it. It has been over 2000 years, and the task has not been completed yet, so strengthen your resolve to proclaim the gospel.
Jesus glorified the Father by doing His work, so too do we glorify God by doing the works that Jesus did. We can only carry out Jesus’ mission by abiding in Christ and we will only produce fruit, in spite of the opposition we face, when His life flows through us. So take your eyes off of the opposition and look to God; you will only overcome the difficulties through Him. We will do even greater works not because of our training or knowledge, but because Jesus is working on our behalf, through the Spirit. This truth should be a great encouragement to us.
Although the storms rage around us, and we can expect much suffering in the days to come, we can have peace—a peace not found in the world. The world will deceive us by giving an appearance of peace through prosperity, but true peace is a gift that Jesus gives to His followers. This peace is possible as we humble ourselves before God and willingly put to death our selfish desires. When we are consumed by a passion for God’s glory, we will boldly face all that the world throws our way, because we are convinced that the peace of Christ is greater than the tribulations of this world. Jesus slept in the middle of the storm. Paul and Silas worshiped in prison. Peter and John gave a testimony before the Jewish religious leaders. In all of these situations, they experienced a supernatural peace. Peace is not the absence of problems; it’s knowing that you’re securely held in the hands of Jesus. Nothing—pain, imprisonment, loss of reputation, heartache—nothing can ever take us from His hands. We are secure for all of eternity! Are you facing trials with confidence?