John 16 Part 4

Resumed from part 3

But, what we want is ‘fair for me’, not always what is fair to the other person. ‘God isn’t fair’, we say. If God were fair, we would all be in a Christ-less eternity. If God were fair, He would judge us according to true judgment and we would be separated from Him forever. God is more than fair, He is gracious, and that really leads to the issue of how we respond to Him. So, this is an important principle.
So, keep in mind this Scripture, “The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing,” from Deuteronomy 23:5. Remember when it talked about that idea? Think of Joseph’s brothers. Remember they sold him into slavery, he was put into prison as a criminal, and what does God do? He mutates it into joy. Not by substitution, but by going through the pain he discovers the joy of God on the other side because of his transformation. Egypt’s persecution of Israel just caused them to multiply and prosper even more. King Saul’s pursuit of David made him even more of a man of God than he otherwise would have been. And, it actually helped create the Psalms.
If Saul had not pursued David, like a dog tries to scratch a tick on its back, many of the Psalms would not have been written. Think about the tremendous comfort and consolation that the Psalms have meant to so many people. That is the book I always turn people to when they are going through times of depression or despondency. Why? Because every human emotion is revealed in them. There is an honesty about that. One of the things I love about the Psalms is their incredible honesty about God. God well-knows our thoughts and it is never a smart idea to cover up your thoughts and think that God is not going to know what you are really thinking.
The fact is, though, that it is wise for us to see that the ultimate example of bringing joy by transformation, rather than substitution, is what? What is the ultimate example of joy through transformation? Is it not the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? It seems to me that He took the Cross, the symbol of defeat and shame, and He transformed that Cross into a symbol of glory and victory. Now, that is an amazing achievement.
So, when we think about that, people often focus wrongly on who killed Jesus, but there is another thing. Frankly, He laid down His life on His own initiative. Nobody killed Him, in that sense. He laid His life down. In fact, it was necessary, was it not, for Christ to suffer? Remember He tells the disciples, in Luke 24, verse 25, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory.”
Then He went into, “Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” I would like to have been there to hear that message. What Scriptures would Jesus have chosen to illustrate prophecies concerning Himself? Some might surprise us. The point here is, though, “Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
The Scriptures clearly teach this. He is telling them that it is necessary, but the suffering is not the end. It is a doorway to joy. That is why it says in Hebrews 12, that Jesus, because of the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame. He did not look at the Cross as an end, but as a means to a greater end. So, the Cross was not the end, nor is death the end. It is not the last word. It is a doorway to the ultimate joy that we will receive in His presence.
So, returning to the text, in verse 20, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.” Frankly, Egypt did rejoice when Israel departed and the world was glad when Christ moved off the scene, I promise you that, because the only response people would have, if they were with Him long enough, would be either antipathy or acceptance. Those were the only options. To ignore Him was not an option. If you spent much time with Him, He would produce those twin responses, which were so beautifully illustrated in the two thieves on the crosses on either side of Christ.
They illustrate the two basic responses, one of reception and one of rejection. He was flanked by those two responses. The point here is that there is a perspective we must embrace, whenever a woman is in labor, she has pain because her hour has come, but then she no longer remembers that anguish. In our concept of time, isn’t it true that it changes with your feelings? Frankly, if I am in a doctor’s office, it seems to go by very slowly. Then you spend a wonderful evening with your friends, and what happens? You are amazed at how the evening just whizzed by. Your perspective changes that.
A mother thinks that the birth is taking a long time, but actually, it may only be a little while. What happens is that when the baby is born the pain is forgotten and it is transformed into joy. Keep in mind that the Creation awaits Christ’s return, does it not? In Romans 8:22, “it awaits its own transformation.” From Hebrews 10:37, “But in a little while, He who is coming will come.” To us, it may seem a long time, but He doesn’t measure time the way we do. In 2nd Peter 3:8-9, “With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. He is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness.”
The fact is that from God’s orientation, it is just a short moment. The time will come, let’s call it a hundred years from now, and none of us will be here, but you will look back on this earthly life and it will be just a blip in time. Yet, it was the most important, because it has shaped your whole destiny. The choices you make here really do count in eternity. And so, our perspective must be one in which we see the joy because God will not substitute, but cause us to go through the pain and experience His transformation.
As we conclude our discussion on chapter 16 tonight, let’s now focus on verses 23 through 33. “In that day,” Jesus says, “You will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” Here is the point. While Jesus was with them, He always met their needs.
Now, He is going to go away, and He emphasizes this again and again, in chapters 14, 15, and 16, and it is the privilege of prayer and how God will be the One to whom they can turn, in the power of His Spirit, to meet their needs. He is not there with them anymore, but He will continue to meet their needs. In the early Church, in the Book of Acts, they believed in the promises of God and acted on those promises. There are many prayers about believing and acting, and also listening.
Remember, don’t limit prayer to a few minutes in the morning. Seek the skill of practicing His presence throughout the course of the day so that you engage in what is called ‘habitual recollection’, by which you recall, from time to time, His presence. Sometimes I can mean just carrying a word with you and every so often letting your mind go to that one simple word, which can bring you to reflection. Prayer is a very powerful resource, as we all know because it brings us into contact and union with Him. Continuing, now, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language but will tell you plainly of the Father.
In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” In other words, He is not wresting things from a God who resists us. He is not twisting God’s arm to love them and give them good gifts. He Himself loves them, and He Himself sent Jesus to them. It is the Father who wishes to know them and have intimacy with them. “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and believed that I came forth from the Father.”
So, the Father loves them because they loved Jesus. “I came forth from the Father,” and here is the key phrase, “and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” That is the first time He was absolute and un-figurative in His speech. Notice how close it is to the end. He is waiting until the eleventh hour because they were not ready to receive it until then. “His disciples said, ‘Lo, now you are speaking plainly and not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this, we believe that You came from God’.”
That is a powerful thing and they finally got it. Think about the timing of God. He has been with them for over three years and they did not get it until the last minute, in the Upper Room discourse. Again, it is my view that you never have to be in a hurry to do the will of God. He has given you just enough time on this earth to accomplish His purpose. He is the One who is going to fulfill it when the time is necessary. As you know, I have had a few close brushes with death. Each time I had to conclude that there was more stuff for me to do.
So, Jesus knew He did not have to be in a hurry. He knew the Father would reveal these things through the Spirit to the disciples when it was needful. As it happened, it was in the eleventh hour. Isn’t that the way God often answers your prayer? He seems to wait until the last minute. How would your faith ever be stretched if He gave it to you when you wanted it? Again, you would like the infant, wanting substitution rather than transformation.
So, now He says to them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home.”
So, He predicts that they will betray Him. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. He knew this, and the Scriptures predicted as much. “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” You, in your relationship with God, never are alone. You have solitude, but you are not isolated. Do you understand the difference? You can have a solitude in you, but it is the solitude of God’s manifest presence and even when there is no one with you, you are in communion.
He tells them, in verse 33, “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.” What a great line that is. Remember in chapter 14 where He is talking about a different sort of peace? In verse 27, “Peace I leave with you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled or let it be fearful.” Jesus is offering us a peace that transcends all understanding.




Now on to part 5

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