Week 17: John 16 Take Heart

Monday: Love and Hate

Read John 16:1-4, Acts 8:1-4, Revelation 2:12-17

Jesus’ teaching in this farewell address shifts from unity, friendship, and love, to the antithesis of those things: Hate. Later, in the “descion” of Pilate, we’ll see another antithesis to love (Apathy), but Jesus focuses on hatred here. We live in a world of good and evil, dark and light, love and hate. In recent times, the lines between good and evil seem to be increasingly blurred. For example, the old Star Wars movies had clear heroes and villains. Media today, like the rest of the world, has moved away from villainizing anything (except maybe those who would draw a line between good and evil). Jesus drew clear lines. His brand of love, which is morally righteous and sacrificially lived out, is good. Causing pain and murdering is never good – even if it seems like a just cause.

It may be a bleak consolation, but when we see hate in our world, we can be reminded of the love that we have. Ultimately, in Jesus, we have experienced full and undeserved love. Incredibly, this love came from the greatest act of hate the world has ever seen. Love wins!

Tuesday: The Helper’s Help

Read John 16:5-11

Jesus explains the Holy Spirit in more detail here than anywhere else in scripture. And while the work of the Spirit is still mysterious, this passage should give us insight. Jesus details three ways that the Spirit helps us. It makes the Spirit’s role even clearer if we remember that he is pointing out how the Spirit will help in the absence of the presence of Jesus.

1- He will convict the world concerning sin because they do not believe in me. Without Jesus in the world, how will the world know right and wrong? How have you become convinced of what is sin and what isn’t? The Spirit!

2- He will convict the world about righteousness because Jesus is going to the Father. Jesus didn’t just teach us what not to do. He also perfectly modeled a righteous life. How are we to understand righteousness without Jesus? The Holy Spirit helps us live a righteous life.

3- He will convict the world about judgment because Satan has been judged. It’s hard to remember this or believe it when we look at the world, but the world has been judged and God has won. The Spirit helps us keep this perspective.

Perspective: When we present the Gospel to the world, the Holy Spirit presents people with Jesus himself!

Pray through the Spirit’s help in these three areas in your life.

Wednesday: The Empathy of Jesus

Read John 16:1, 12, 33, Matthew 12:20, 23:37, Hebrews 4:14-16

This is the darkest moment in Jesus’ life. Yet, his focus is on comforting his disciples. He wants them to be emotionally and spiritually prepared for the trial that his trial will bring upon them, even though they will all abandon him. The fortitude of Jesus is remarkable. How often do we abandon empathy in much less trying circumstances?

This is who the Messiah was to be. If a reed was already bruised, he wouldn’t be the one to break it the rest of the way. He came to each person in the gospels by meeting them where they were at and personally ministering to them. There has been no one like him. And he continues to sympathize with us even as he is seated next to the Father.

16:12 is particularly striking. Apparently, Jesus has more to teach. We would surely like to hear whatever Jesus is holding back, but he knows the eleven can only handle so much. Their hearts in this moment are more important than an extra chapter of the Messiah’s teaching! This is radical empathy in the moment. In a world where we often have a hard time being fully present with people, this is a convicting and helpful example of empathy.

Thursday: Birthing Pains

Read John 16:16-24, Isaiah 13:8, 21:3, 42:14

Throughout the Old Testament, the pains of birth are used as a metaphor for God’s judgment. Jesus uses this illustration to describe what his disciples are about to experience: Intense but brief pain, followed by the birth of something brand new in the world. Like the pain experienced in bringing a whole new human into the world, change, re-birth, and redemption often involve periods of intense pain. This is true of Jesus on the cross. If you look back on the moments that moved you the most your life, they were probably preceded by pain.

Are you in anguish even now? How could Jesus turn your sorrow into joy? What new thing could be birthed from this current hardship.? When Isaiah and other prophets spoke of judgment, they did not usually mean end-times judgment like we might think. Judgment is something that happens on smaller scales in the history of our world and in day to day life for us as individuals. Judgment is a moment of clarity with a clear end and a new beginning. Clarity often comes through pain. May that encourage you in whatever struggle you may currently be facing.

Friday: I am leaving the world and going to the Father

Read John 16:25-30, Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:3-2:10, Hebrews 11:13-16

The disciples have been begging for clear speech from Jesus and now they believe they have it. (They don’t.) It is simple in one sense – Jesus came from God and he’s going back to God. They still don’t understand that this simple statement will involve a cross, an empty tomb, and 40 days of resurrection. Soon they will.

Jesus’ trajectory is not his alone. We too, have come from the Father, in a sense. He’s known us since before the creation of the world and loved us with all of his heart. As disciples, we are going to the Father. We probably don’t think of it in these terms. We would more likely say, “we are going to die.” But death has been defeated to the point that it’s more accurate to say that we’re leaving the world and going to the Father. Just as Jesus warned his disciples, we’ve got a lot of life to live and a lot of trials to overcome before that day. But Jesus has overcome the world, even death.

Saturday: I have overcome the world

Read John 16:31-33, 1 John 2:15-17, Revelation 12:10-17, 20:7-10

John really believed both parts of what Jesus said just before his prayer at the Last Supper. First, you will have trouble/tribulation. In his first letter (epistle), John instructs his disciples to resist falling in love with the world. This will only lead to trouble. In Revelation he imagines the world and Satan in many ways, including a dragon. The loser in Revelation is clear: the dragon has been defeated although he still causes trouble for those who follow his ways.

This is why it’s essential for us to believe the second part of Jesus’ statement: Jesus wins. He has won. When we stand with him, we are on the winning side of a cosmic struggle between good and evil that plays out in the heart and life of every person. At the beginning of a basketball game the score often goes back and forth. But often, as the game goes on, it becomes clear that one team will win, maybe even in a blow out. We all have times in our lives where the battle is tight. “In this life you will have trouble.” But we can also see glimpses of the blowout that God has manufactured by invading history with the love of his Son. “I have overcome the world.” Take heart!

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