Summary: As followers of Jesus we all have difficulties that face us in life. In John 16 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to help us not only overcome but be at peace when life feels anything but peaceful. We just need to reach into the bag!
I have something in my trunk that I carry with me at all times. Actually for a long time it was two bags. I created these bags when I worked as a television reporter. Setting out for work each day I never knew where I would be sent that day—what story I might have to cover. I had to be prepared for anything—including floods and forest fires, snowstorms or cop shootings, in the schoolyard or the prison yard.
So, I would wear my suit or sports jacket and tie, ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille. But in my bag I could pull out waders or a heavy ski jacket and gloves, even a hard hat, leather gloves and an emergency shelter in case a forest fire got out of control. I also had extra clothes and overnight supplies because I basically never knew when or if I would make it home on any given night. I had to be ready for anything.
In a sense, that is the Christian life as well. We get up in the morning and have no idea what trial or adventure awaits us. We could be faced with persecution or difficulty, trial or temptation, an opportunity to shine or share the Lord at any turn. We also face loneliness, rejection, even lack of direction. But we don’t need a bag or two in our trunks because we have the ultimate source of anything we could possibly need in the Holy Spirit.
We’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit over the past few weeks in our study of John. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to make a permanent home in the heart of the one who trusts in Jesus. This residency isn’t silent, like a college roommate who is never there, but He is active in transforming you into someone who thinks and acts like God. We’ve talked about the Holy Spirit in us, and through us. Now we talk about Him for us.
But it’s not just about us living, it is about us living in this world as ambassadors for Christ. When we become friends with Jesus we become enemies to the world—and the enemy in charge of the world system, Satan, doesn’t take his adversaries lightly. So Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be there whenever we needed Him, for some very specific purposes which He outlines in chapter 16.
Jesus has just gotten done telling His disciples that the world will hate them just like it hates Him. He is preparing them that difficult times are coming. He doesn’t want them to be surprised or “tripped up” as the words for “fall away” mean in the Greek. We might say “forewarned is forearmed”.
Now God doesn’t always tell us what kind of trouble awaits us, just that there will be trouble. I, for one, am glad He doesn’t give the details or I probably wouldn’t go. What he does promise is to be with us powerfully to help us through it and even be victorious in the difficulties. It is not the difficulty of the road that matters, but who is walking with you on it.
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Jesus’ words would come true very soon with Saul of Tarsus, who had Christians put to death and thought he was serving God doing it. The disciples were expelled from the synagogues (and separated from their families, friends, and business associates at the same time). They, and we, need to know that this is happening not because of us but because they do not know Jesus. It helps. Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The focus is on unbelief, not on how rotten that person is.