The Lord gives us great hope and a promise that all Christians should take comfort from in these few scriptures. There is also a warning, but with that warning a reminder that in Him we are safe.
Is there anyone in Christ today who can say that since coming to Jesus all of the problems and sufferings in this world have passed away? Does anyone have a life as a Christian that is all sweetness and light?
I very much doubt it…unless they are trying to fool themselves. The truth is that there awaits a life of tribulation, stress and persecution for those who come to Christ, and in this section of scripture Jesus tells us that is what it will be like. But He also shows that we need not worry about it when we follow Him for there is victory in Jesus Christ.
In the World You have Tribulation
There are many scriptures that tell us we will have tribulation, troubles and persecutions as we follow Jesus Christ. In this section of scripture Jesus says these words.
“In the world you have tribulation” (verse 33)
Peter wrote in one of his letters these words,
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
And Paul wrote these words to Timothy in his letters to him, for our benefit (2 Timothy 3:12-13),
12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.
These are three independent witnesses to the fact that as we walk with Christ we will suffer. Peter is so bold as to say to us not to be surprised by the suffering that will come too as if it were strange. He is saying to EXPECT it, and Paul’s words are not too dissimilar either.
So why are Christians to expect to find trouble as they walk in the ways of God? Aren’t the ways of God supposed to be good and to lead us to salvation? Aren’t we supposed to be learning how to be good and to find righteousness and to be like Jesus? Surely if we are good should we not expect that life will be good for us?
Well, the truth of the matter is that we suffer for the sake of Jesus because everything He stood for is in almost direct opposition to all the things of this world. His righteousness and holiness showed up the sin, corruption and evil of this world and condemned the actions of those who oppose the ways of God.
And they don’t like it…
That is why they “…hated him without a cause,” (John 15:25), and why the devil, “…was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)
They hate Jesus who stand against Him and they hate those who follow Him because as Christians we show up their evil works to be evil. Not that we condemn them, they condemn themselves because their guilt and the exposure of their sin eats at them. So they oppose the Lord and His people.
And this is why Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation.” The key here is that we have tribulation in the “world.” But when we are in Jesus we do not have tribulation and the trials and tribulations of the world cannot affect us…if we follow and walk in Jesus ways.
I have Overcome the World
Jesus continued verse 33 in this section saying,
“In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Although we are going through these tribulations and trials, just as Jesus did too, He is telling us to be cheerful. That sounds a little odd at first until we realise what He is talking about.
In the world there is tribulation, but in Jesus there is victory. There was nothing in the world that could destroy the life of Jesus, not even death because He had overcome the world. All the sin and evil and wrongdoing and judgement and condemnation that stood against Jesus. All the opposition from the religious people of His time. All the satanic forces that stood against Him to try and discredit and destroy the work that God was doing in and through Jesus Christ. None of it came to fruition against Him for He overcame them all…and He lived.
And when we walk in His ways and are “in” Jesus Christ, we too have the victory in Jesus Christ that comes by faith in His name.
This is why he says to be of good cheer. What can the world throw at Jesus that He has not and cannot overcome? Nothing! Look at the words of Paul where he tells us in Romans 8:35-39 of the power of the victory we have in Jesus Christ.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul here is admitting that these things can or will come against us. Some people have died for the sake of their Christian walk, and I expect many will again. But just as Jesus was not overcome by these things and He lives today, so too we will stand in life as long as we continue in our walk with Him.
Nothing in this world can take us out of the hand of God. And there is nothing in this world that is more precious than the life God has promised to those who have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul says, we are more than conquerors, not because of what we do, but because Jesus has overcome the world and we can rest in the comfort of knowing that we have the victory in Jesus Christ.
Victory in Jesus Christ
With this victory and knowing that He has overcome the world, we can have peace. Not peace as the world knows it, but the peace of Jesus Christ and of God. Now if we look at the full detail of verse 33 in John 16 we see this addition,
“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
He told the disciples all these things so that they would have peace. He had just finished telling them that they would desert Him and leave Him all alone, but He knows that this will happen. And in telling them He is saying not to worry about it for it is part of the overall plan for He is to be put to death for us.
So too in our time we are to have the peace of Jesus Christ in us also. In Him we have peace for in Him we have the knowledge that we have salvation from our sins, we are set free to praise and worship God and we are able to bring all of our problems, issues and requests before God who will take them and resolve them for us.
And if we have answers to our problems, we have peace. If we know and understand that we have salvation from our sins we have peace. If we recognise that the work is His and all we need to do is believe, we have peace. If we know also that the work of the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ we have peace.
And if we have this peace inside of us, nothing outside of us in this world can take away our peace. Nothing in this world can destroy our peace when our peace and our very life relies upon the strength of the Lord and not our own strength.
This is the victory in Jesus Christ. When we rely on Him totally, fully obedient and trusting in faith that He will do what He said He would do, then we have no need to fear. And if we have no fear we have peace and that too is the victory in Jesus Christ.
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