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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!
John 16:32-33

Jesus knows His disciples will abandon Him. He knows that in His darkest hour they will deny Him. Yet Jesus does not scold or reject them. He will never, ever, hold it against them. Jesus knows His followers and loves them just as they are, in all their faithlessness and blundering. In spite of their failings they are Jesus men; they belong to Him. Bible commentator William Barclay reads between the lines of Jesus’ words and hears Him saying:

I know what’s going to happen; you must not think that your disloyalty came as a shock to me; I knew it was coming; and it does not make any difference to my love. When you think about it afterwards, don’t despair.

The disciples’ faith in Jesus will be shaken, and they will scatter, leaving Him alone to face trial and execution. Yet, Jesus assures them that He will not be alone, as Abba Father will be with Him. As He is about to be betrayed, humiliated, tortured, and nailed to a cross, Jesus strangely is talking to His disciples about peace. Rather than seeking comfort from His friends, Jesus seeks to comfort them. Throughout the evening Jesus has told them not to be troubled (John 14:1, 27), but to receive His peace (John 14:27).

It is Jesus’ own peace in the face of terror that He leaves with them. It is a peace they will find not in circumstances, but only in Jesus: “so that in me you may have peace”. Like branches united to the vine, so His friends will experience peace united with Him. It is in relationship with Jesus that they will know peace in the coming “persecution”.

In the shadow of the hellish cross, Jesus declares victory! He asks all who follow Him, therefore, to act boldly: “take courage; I have conquered the world!” Jesus knows victory is so certain that He talks about it as having already taken place: “I have conquered the world!

The howling mob will mock Jesus, Governor Pilate will condemn Him, and Roman soldiers crucify Him dead. But nothing, not even death itself, can defeat Jesus. The grave will have no victory to claim against Him or His friends. Evil will do its worst to Jesus, but not defeat Him. He will bring us close to the Father’s heart.

Today we can say with courage: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-37).


What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?

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