“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ and if you live in America, you probably have never experienced what these words truly promised. Yes, we have trials and tribulations which disrupt our lives and rob us of our peace and we turn to this verse and verses like it that promise God’s supremacy and sovereignty over the world and whatever is the source of our trouble. These trials are nothing to be trivial about, they are real. Sometime what seems like a small matter to others is a major matter to us. So I understand that Christians have had tribulations – but most of the tribulation we have are things that any person experiences whether they are believer or not. All who live may experience what we call tribulation such as:
- death of a spouse, child, parent or even dear friend;
- a terminal illness or a disease that has no cure;
- loss of a job;
- afflicted by depression or bi-polar disorder or other mental illness;
- or falsehoods by enemies which crush one’s reputation.
Nothing light-weight about any of those trials and tribulations. But I suggest that what Jesus was promising was something that was directly related to their commitment to Him and His message. The tribulation Jesus was promising would come to them was because they were and would be Christ followers – people who came to be known as Christians.
Jesus was not wishing tribulation on them but he knew where the battle lines were going to be drawn. Once the enemy of our souls realized that Christ had risen from the dead and provided a new kind of life for all who would believe in him, the battle changed. Jesus knew what those who believed and were willing to stand up and declare their belief would face from a hostile world. “For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Heb. 12:3 (NASB).
The apostles knew first hand and wrote about the tribulation which the first century believers experienced with encouraging words. But we – the Church in the free world, in America, have not yet suffered the same kind of tribulation. But we will. It is coming. So, it is time to be familiar and be ready and be encouraged by the same words when it does come. When your testimony for Jesus Christ is challenged and because you are a Christian you are first denied freedom to do what you want and then denied opportunity – know these words by heart and live by them. When government bodies from local to county to state to federal begin to legislate consequences on you because you believe, you know trust the words Jesus spoke to his disciples on the evening before he was put to death by Roman crucifixion.
He knew what was in store for him.
He knew what was coming for his disciples and all followers of His Way.
He knew and He promised that He would be in us and Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
Jesus was about to overcome the world in the most tragic but glorious way. The world inspired by Satan would kill him and then He would overcome death by returning to life and offering a new and eternal life that death cannot overcome.
That power indeed overcomes the world.