“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 (NASB)
Yesterday’s promise included the appropriation of the Gospel of Peace in order to stand firm against the ruler of this world system set on our failure as Christians. The attack is on all around us. Christian and Christianity is a target and quickly criticized by ungodly forces. Today’s verse gives us the promise of peace. Jesus, as he spoke to His disciples that last night at Passover Supper did so in order that they would have peace. He knew what was ahead was going to be very difficult and include tribulations and persecutions. But, as Jesus said, with His peace we can overcome whatever the world dishes out to us. Why can we trust this promise? How do we take on the courage we need and know it will be there for us? Because, Jesus declared the He had already overcome the world. As difficult as it was going to be, Jesus promised that what He had done for them and for us was to give us what we need to overcome the world – and that included His peace. Not a worldly idea of peace but a Godly kind of peace that lasts forever.
“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 (NASB)
Today again our verse has the word “take courage.’ Because we live in a world that is hostile toward God and does not believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord we do need to bolster our spirit and strengthen our hearts with faith believing. But we do so not on our own or in our own might. We don’t have the capacity to be courageous in the face of tribulations from the world. In the New Testament, sometimes the word translated ‘take courage’ can be rendered ‘Be of good cheer.’ Another version translates it as ‘take heart.’ How can we do this? By trusting Jesus’ last phrase in this verse, “I have overcome the world.” He is the same ‘I’ that calmed their fears when he came toward his disciples walking on the surface of a stormy lake. The essential ground for our endurance in persecution is the victory of Jesus over the world. It is by His death, that He, rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack believers, they are harmless to us, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a marvelous defeat of the whole evil rebellious system.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35 & 37 (ESV)
Now, who or what is going to do it? Will it be times of tribulation or persecution? Perhaps it will be when we have nothing left ⸺ nothing to wear and no food to eat? Will distress over a perceived danger or death? That might do it? Or not. The Apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Rome. He tells them that none of these threats, which are real, and may even be visited upon us, defeat us. We have won the victory through the power of Him who loved us ⸺ Jesus, the Son of God. It’s a promise that nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ. Is this true for you? It is promised to all who in faith have believed and accepted the gift of eternal life from Jesus. If we have, let our enemies come collectively or singly, we need not care. Let them come one and all. we have no foes that can overcome us. Why? Because God has justified all who believe. We do not dread death. Why? Because Christ has suffered death for us. Our judgment is past, we dread no separation, and we anticipate no failure.
“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.