He Has Overcome

John 16:31-33

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

In Jesus’ final hours, His disciples finally believe what He has been teaching all along. I find this comforting that these very men spent countless hours with Him, witnessed His power, heard His teachings, plus many other things that aren’t even recorded in the bible and it wasn’t until the last possible moment that things started to click. Three years of intense training and it was starting to sink in. I don’t feel so bad about how long it takes me to understand even the small principles about Jesus anymore.

In verse 32, Jesus talks about the disciples being scattered. The original text gives a better meaning to this, indicating that they will scatter as a result of being terror stricken. In other words, He is saying that despite their growth in faith and belief, they will still abandon Him. However, He will not be left alone since God the Father never abandons us. I think that is really hard for us to comprehend, especially when we try to define God by human standards. We have all experienced abandonment of some sort in the past. For a long time I struggled with fear of abandonment. My actions were primarily driven by this fear, whether I admitted it or not. It wasn’t until I began to trust that God wouldn’t abandon me and over time He showed me He wouldn’t, that I was able to overcome that fear. Sometimes we feel as though God has abandoned us. However, if we truly look at the situation, we will find that it is us who abandon Him.

Verse 33 is powerful. First, Jesus talks about peace. Peace is an overarching term that has become watered down in our society. The peace He spoke of is not relief from war or even troubles (as we see He mentions in the very next sentence), but rather He speaks of unity. The Apostle Paul later encourages the Philippians to be “united in Spirit.” Jesus just talked about the coming of the Holy Spirit after this is all said and done. As the 12 split off and run away to their homes, they won’t have cell phones or Facebook to communicate. They will essentially be isolating themselves from each other. However, Jesus is trying to give them words of comfort so that they know that although they feel segregated, they are united; they are at peace, knowing and trusting in what Jesus had told them.

A couple weeks ago we analyzed this passage in class. The term for tribulation is the same word used to describe the pressing of grapes to make wine. What comes out when we are pressed? When we are subject to trials and tribulation in this world, that which is in us comes out. This could be fear, hatred, selfishness…the list goes on. Hopefully for us and others around us, what comes out is love. What is squeezed out of you when you are pressed?

Finally, we discover an interesting statement, Jesus claiming that He has overcome the world. The word used here indicates victory; we see this in battle when one army overcomes another. I always thought this phrase was spoken after Jesus was resurrected. Here however, we see that He says it before His death and resurrection. What does this mean? God doesn’t work on our timeline. In trying to understand that God is not restricted by human standards, even time cannot define Him. He always was, always is, and always will be: at the same time.

God gave us authority over the earth back in the beginning of our existence on earth. We forfeited it for the knowledge of good and evil and surrendered it to the devil. By dying to pay the ransom for the title deed, Jesus has reclaimed it for us and is handing it back to us. He has redeemed our forfeiture since we couldn’t and is now giving us back the keys. Will we take it? In America we have a constant and growing sense of entitlement. This is the biggest thing we are entitled to (thanks to God’s grace and love), yet we refuse to claim it. Why? Why is it so hard for us to accept this gift? It has always been ours. It was stolen away from us yet we have become comfortable not having it and have accepted it as not being ours (even though it is). What is preventing you from realizing the fullness of this gift and accepting it?

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