After explaining to the disciples that he needed to go away so that the Comforter could come and what the Comforter’s job would be, Jesus picks up in John 16:15 by saying that He needs to leave for a little while. The disciples are puzzled by the way he presents it, so Jesus starts to explain what He means.
This whole discourse was to prepare the disciples for what was to come, but Christ must have known that even this discussion would not be enough.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. – John 16:20
The disciples did not understand the basic premise of why Christ had come. He came to save us from our sins the only way that He could– by taking the punishment for it in our place. He must die so that we might live. What a hard concept for them. It’s always a hard concept when we think about going through something difficult for the betterment of someone else.
How is this concept in our lives? Do we see the greater good as the goal for our lives, or are we focused on the immediate? It is easy in our culture and society to get focused on what is the immediate problem or the immediate goal. We have been aided by easy credit (no matter if you have bad credit, slow credit, divorce or bankruptcy) to impulse buy anything and everything. We are told to act now. We are given statitics that try to comfort us with the knowledge that we are not the only ones in this circumstance.
In one way, this is good– for we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. In another way this is terribly wrong– for we end up living every day like there is a tomorrow: another chance to do something we know we should have done today or to make up for the wrongs of today.
Jesus was trying to get his followers to understand the big picture. He came to die so that mankind could live. In what would seem like the greatest defeat– the very antithesis of what they expected Him to do since they expected Him to defeat Rome and establish an earthly kingdom– would be the greatest victory. At what Satan believed would be his finest hour, it turned out to be his stunning defeat.
Christ realized their natural urges, their desire for self preservation when He acknowledged that the disciples would scatter in verse 32. In a line that would provide comfort only in retrospect, He tells his disciples that they would not be leaving him alone, for He would have the Father with Him.
Then, in what should be one of the verses to shout from the mountain tops, Christ tells us that He advised the disciples about what would come so that they might have peace through the trials. Here’s the line that fills me with joy:
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
This verse should fill you with cheer and joy. Just because peace has been declared in a region does not always mean the fighting stops immediately. This statement of Christ’s is the declaration that the war is over. We’re still fighting the skirmishes, but that’s because the enemy does not realize or want to admit that they have been defeated.
The world and Satan were defeated at the cross– they no longer have power over us for Christ has made us free. Do we live like this? Why do we as Christians feel that we have to compromise with the world in order to win it?
Any objection to the carryings on of our present golden calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for god? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all of these questions is no. – Man: The Dwelling Place of God, p. 136
Christ has conquered death and hell. He has overcome the world, and we live our Christian lives or we run our churches like we need to compromise with it in order to have an impact on lives. Our testimony should be like this man:
During WWI one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give improper friends up. They would give him up.
As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he encountered that he had become a Christian. The soldier went home. Almost immediately–in fact, while he was still on the platform of the suburban station at the end of his return trip–he met a girl whom he had known socially. She was delighted to see him and asked how he was doing. He told her, “The greatest thing that could possibly happen to me has happened.” “You’re engaged to be married,” she exclaimed. “No,” he told her. “It’s even better than that. I’ve taken the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.” The girls’ expression froze. She mumbled a few polite words and went on her way. A short time later the new Christian met a young man whom he had known before going into the service. “It’s good to see you back,” he declared. “We’ll have some great parties now that you’ve returned.” “I’ve just become a Christian,” the soldier said. He was thinking, That’s two! Again it was a case of a frozen smile and a quick change of conversation. After this the same circumstances were repeated with a young couple and with two more old friends. By this time word had got around, and soon some of his friends stopped seeing him. He had become peculiar, religious, and — who knows! — they may even have called him crazy! What had he done? Nothing but confess Christ. The same confession that had aligned him with Christ had separated him from those who did not want Jesus Christ as Savior and who, in fact, did not even want to hear about Him. – J.M. Boice, Christ’s Call To Discipleship, Moody, 1986, p. 122-23.
Do we associate our name with Christ’s, or are we compromising with the world because we believe that it’s the only way to win them?
2 thoughts on “The Promise of the Comforter”
The last half of this post is “seat-pinning”! I meet this outlook EVERYWHERE (golden calf Christianity! Love that term!)…when preachers tell you you’re too uptight, you tend to step back and wonder if maybe they’re right!
I’m going to have to get my hands on that book…thanks for this.
Have you gotten much feedback from your church on this series? I’m afraid if this was preached at most churches way too many people would be offended.
One book that comes to mind as I’ve been reading this series, is Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. That book had me in tears about every other page at the things we Christians in America take for granted. How we’re missing the point by a long shot. We’re so complacent. Have you heard the song “Silence Of The Lambs” by the Martins?
Anyway, great post.
I had a lot of people come up to me Sunday and Sunday night saying that it was a good sermon, but like most sermons, you can never really measure the impact because you can’t see the change the Holy Spirit does in the life.
The nice thing about being the guest speaker is that you can say the offensive things easier than the pastor– not that he shouldn’t, mind you. 🙂