Summary: Jesus knew the disciples would face trials, persecution, and death. He knew they would have grief. So he comforted them. And Jesus comforts us as well when we are having problems and face grief.
Series: “What To Do”
See also I Don’t Know What To Do; But I’m Disappointed; But I Just Can’t Win; But Life is Too Hard; What You Need, God Has)
As I choose this passage to preach, I knew that these three verses were the three from the entire 16th chapter of John that I would concentrate on. In fact, verse 33 is what I plan to focus on the most. But I wasn’t sure how much of this chapter I wanted us all to read together. So instead of reading it all I kind of want to set the stage for verse 33.
John 16 falls toward the end of what scholarly types like to refer to as The Upper Room Discourse. The Upper Room Discourse is the conversations Jesus has with His closest Disciples found in The Gospel of John in chapters 13-16. In these chapters Jesus tries to explain to his disciples exactly what must happen in the days to come. He explains to his disciples the importance of being servant leaders. He explains to them that He is the Way, The Truth and the Life. He tells His disciples about The Holy Spirit and about what an abundant life his followers will have. Jesus explains that the world will hate those who believe in Him. And then in chapter 16 Jesus begins to explain why he took the time to teach His closest followers this. Look at verse 1 of chapter 16.
“All of this I have told you so that you will no go astray.”
Jesus went to all of this trouble because He knew that there were tough times ahead. And then Jesus again explains that “in a little while” they will see Him no more and then they will see him again. Now if there is anything you have learned from me over the past year of sitting through my sermons, hopefully it is that the disciples were not the sharpest knives in the draw. It usually took a while for it to sink in. But eventually the disciples figured out what Jesus had been talking about. Once the idea that Jesus is going to die soon hits them, Jesus tries to comfort them. Look at verse 20.
Once Jesus is finished the disciples get it. They get. Finally they believe. And this takes us to our passage.
Read passage. – pray.
Jesus knew the disciples, those closest to him would suffer because of their faith. Except for Peter and John, we lose track of Jesus’ disciples after the Gospel accounts in our Bibles. But when we look at ancient church traditions we see that most of the disciples continued to spread the Gospel and paid the ultimate price. John was exiled and died of natural causes. Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew, all the others but John were martyred. We know Peter was crucified upside down during Nero’s persecution. Andrew was crucified in Achaia. James, son of Zebedee was killed by Herod and the first martyred.
Jesus knew the disciples would face trials, persecution, and death. He knew they would have grief. So he comforted them. And Jesus comforts us as well when we are having problems.
There is a story about a man named Jack who was walking along a steep cliff one day when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell off. On the way down he grabbed a branch which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his horror saw the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He couldn’t hang on to the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep cliff.
So Jack began to yell for Help, hoping that someone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something. “Help, Help! Is there anyone up there? HELP!” He yelled for hours but no one heard him.
Do you ever feel like Jack? Do you ever feel like your just hanging on and that no one can help? Perhaps, at work or at school. Perhaps in your family life. Perhaps you face difficulties, maybe you have found yourself in a mess, legal or ethical, that you have created for yourself and you have this awful feeling that you are just hanging out there on a limb by yourself.
I think there are times we all feel that way. We feel like no one will ever be able to supply everything we need to overcome the difficulties we are facing. Believe me, there are times in my ministry, times in my personal life that I feel I am hanging on a limb all alone. But I take comfort in one thing. I take comfort in the words of Jesus. I know that what I need God has.