Victory in Jesus

Posted: January 10, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 16:25-33, “Victory in Jesus”

The promise of victory is a powerful thing.  A sudden surge in scoring or evidence of a tired opponent can help carry a team to a win – a glimpse of a sign marking mile 25 can propel a would-be marathoner a little further to the finish line – (far more importantly) trapped soldiers can gain hope with news of reinforcements or airstrikes.  Knowing that not only the end is near, but that a victorious end is near can be truly welcome & empowering news!

That’s what Jesus was giving to His remaining disciples that night as His upper room discourse came to a close.  True, He spoke of change & He spoke of trials – but ultimately, He spoke of victory.  The disciples could have peace & joy whatever they experienced because Jesus would have victory over it all – He would have victory over the world.

The night had begun with the Passover supper, and a most unusual one at that.  Jesus had changed some of the traditional phrases to apply directly to His own coming sacrifice at the cross, and followed it up with a visual demonstration when He stripped Himself of His outer garments & washed the disciples’ feet.  After prophesying of the events to happen later on that coming morning, Jesus launched into a major teaching directly to the disciples, all to prepare them for not only the hours ahead, but the months and years to come.  Repeatedly, Jesus encouraged them to have true faith in Him, abiding faith in Him, something that could/would not be shaken.  He told them of the Helper/Advocate yet to come (the Holy Spirit) who empower them to endure tribulation, teach them the truth of God, and convict the world of their need for Christ.  Jesus taught them the crucial importance of loving one another, of praying to the Father in Jesus’ name, and of trusting in the truth of Jesus’ return.  All of that had led them to this point.  Jesus would soon be leaving, and they would be sorrowful – but their sorrow was not the end.  After Jesus rose from the dead, their sorrow would turn to joy & that joy would be everlasting.

This transformation of sorrow would come as a direct result of Jesus’ victory.  When Jesus conquered sin, death, and the world, then everything else changed.  If Jesus is risen from the dead & still alive today, then what does it matter what the world throws at us?  The most they can do is kill the body…God gives everlasting life.  Trials, tribulations, and sicknesses might afflict us for a time, but what are 80-90 years of this life compared with eternity?  Jesus gives us eternity.  This is what Jesus’ victory assures us of.  Everything was about to change for the disciples, and that change would be glorious because that change came as a direct result of Jesus rising from the dead.

John 16:25–33
25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.

  1. There was a change coming to the disciples, and it would be a welcome one.  The first related to Jesus’ teaching.  Up to this point, Jesus had spoken to them mysteriously, in symbolic or “figurative language,” but soon it would be clear, open, and plain.  There’s a bit of alliteration in the Greek that doesn’t come across in the English.  The dark, figurative sayings were παροιμας, and the open clear teaching was παρρησια – the παροιμας was going away, and it would be replaced with the παρρησια.  The purposeful point proclaimed by Jesus was that something was about to happen to make a clear, pronounced change.  What would it be?  The resurrection. (But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
  2. There’s little debate Jesus spoke figuratively during His earthly ministry.  He used proverbs, parables, and many other forms of mysterious language as He engaged in much of His teaching.  Why?  Because that was His purpose.  When Jesus first gave the reason why He taught in parables (Matt 13), He quoted from Isaiah 6 when God prophesied that His people would hear & not understand, see & not perceive.  The mysteries of the kingdom of God were hidden in plain sight of the people of God due to their hardened hearts.  As long as they continued in rebellion against God, they would never understand no matter how much they heard.  It was the disciples who received the explanations and further teaching.  They were the ones who had humbled themselves in faith & understood their dependency upon the Son of God.
    1. This same principle is at work today with people far beyond the Jewish nation.  Here in the Bible Belt, you would think people would be swimming in faith & the understanding of Jesus.  Instead, we see a lot of confusion, false teaching, and hardened hearts.  Why?  Because although many people have been to church, they haven’t been to Jesus.  They haven’t humbled their own hearts in faith, receiving Jesus as their Lord.  As a result, the truths of God remain mysterious to them, though they are freely available.
  3. Although Jesus often explained His parables, that didn’t mean the disciples always understood everything.  Even throughout this night, they had difficulty with some of Jesus’ figurative language.  But again, Jesus promised a time soon coming in which His teaching would be plain & open.  It all hinged upon the next several hours.  Soon Jesus would be arrested, abandoned, crucified, and buried.  But that wasn’t the end of things.  Afterwards would come resurrection, and then ascension.  This is what Jesus was referring to the most recent time the disciples were confused by His teaching: John 16:16, "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." Yes, He was leaving, but His leaving was purposeful.  He would suffer & go to the grave, but He wouldn’t stay there – He would be going on victory with His Father.  Once Jesus was risen from the dead, then His teaching would be plain, clear, and open.
    1. So was it?  Apparently yes, though we have no record of it.  It’s interesting that the Bible does not record much of anything of the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension.  Surely He taught the disciples much during that time, but apart from a few brief instances, we have almost nothing written about it.  What we do have is the teaching of the apostles after Jesus ascended, and after the Holy Spirit came upon them with new power.  By the time we see that, it’s evident that the apostles have received clear teaching with much understanding.  Between the teaching of Jesus & the power of the Holy Spirit (as well as the Spirit’s ongoing instruction in their lives), the disciples had received all they needed.
    2. We have access to that same teaching when we read the words of the Bible.  The Scripture IS the clear teaching of Jesus.  That’s not to say we don’t have our own questions, nor there are no mysteries for us that are difficult to understand – but we do have the teaching of Almighty God in our hands.  AND we have access to a Living Teacher who is just as available to help us as He did the original apostles.  The Holy Spirit still guides believers into all truth (16:13), as He empowers us to know the word and will of God.
  4. That wasn’t the only change coming, as Jesus goes on to say in vs. 26…

26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

  1. This change might sound awkward – after all, how could Jesus say that He wouldn’t pray for the disciples?  How can that be reconciled with what the Bible says so many other times about Jesus praying for us?  In Romans 8:26, it is the Holy Spirit who is explicitly said to intercede for us (with groanings that cannot be uttered), but of course the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ.  In 1 Timothy 2:5 Jesus is clearly identified as the one Mediator between God and man, something which implies Jesus’ prayers on our behalf.  In Hebrews 4:14 Jesus is said to be our great High Priest, and 1 John 2:1 shows Jesus being our Advocate with the Father.  The Bible clearly shows Jesus praying for us as believers, so how is it that Jesus told the disciples that He would not do it?  Is this a contradiction in the Scripture?  No.  We always need to interpret Scripture within its context & the context here makes it plain.  When would this change take place? “In that day” – in the day of Jesus’ resurrection & ascension.  What is the contextual action?  Prayer.  So the disciples are praying to God, and Jesus is not there…and that’s OK.  Repeatedly throughout this address, Jesus has instructed the disciples to begin praying to the Father in His name, knowing that they would receive whatever it was that they asked (most recently in 16:23-24).  This is the same idea here.  Jesus didn’t need to be in the room with them for them to pray to God with the authority of Jesus.  Think of it from the disciples’ perspective: as long as they could physically look at Jesus, they knew they were looking at the Son of God.  Thus they could ask Jesus, and know that Jesus would answer them, even pray to God on their behalf.  Yet when Jesus left, would they still have that same assurance that God heard them in their prayers?  Yes!  That’s the point Jesus made here.  It’s not that Jesus would abandon them, never even praying on their behalf; it’s that the disciples didn’t need Jesus in the room in order for them to be heard by God.  They would be heard by God simply because of their relationship with Christ.
    1. When it comes to prayer, Jesus is all we need.  No priest or saints are required.  No rosaries or prayers to Mary are needed.  We pray directly to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We have direct access through direct faith.
  2. The biggest change coming was the relationship the disciples had with the Father.  Once Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus would no longer need to pray in the room with them & they could go directly to the Father.  Why? “Because the Father Himself loves you.”  They were loved by God the Father.  Note this is present; not future tense…God already loved them, and was in the ongoing process of loving them.  They were already in the love of God.  It’s often noted that the New Testament uses three different words to describe love: ερος, αγαπη, φιλεω.  Ερος = love between man/woman; απαπη = sacrificial love, serving love; φιλεω = often defined as friendship/affection.  Depending on the context, that can be true, but φιλεω can be used to describe more than that, sometimes even being used interchangeably with the other words.  Most often (especially in the gospel of John) it’s used to describe a special love, a love based in relationship & intent.  That’s the word used here by Jesus regarding God & the disciples.  He had a special φιλεω love for them.  God certainly loves the world (Jn 3:16 = αγαπαω) and generally sacrificed Jesus for all of humanity, but He has a special love for Jesus’ disciples.  This is love that is up & beyond the love He has for others.  This is a love especially intended for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
  3. Notice that is something explicitly pointed out by Jesus.  How could the disciples know that the Father had this special love for them?  27b: “Because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”  They knew God’s special love for them because they had a special love for Jesus.  Their relationship with God the Father was based solely on their relationship with Jesus Christ.  Two aspects here: love & belief/faith.
    1. Love.  The root word used of the disciples here is the same used of God the Father toward them.  They had an abiding, ongoing love of Jesus as the Son of God.  They had a special intended love of Him.  They made a decision to love and follow Jesus as their Lord (which was demonstrated through their obedient lives, Jn 14:21,23).
    2. Faith.  They believed the things that Jesus taught about Himself – they believed His identity as the Son of God (something which they will go on to confirm in vs. 30).  The grammatical tense for both of these words is interesting in that it implies a past completed action, with results continuing into the present.  So they made a choice to believe upon Jesus, and that belief continued into the current time.  It wasn’t something they assumed or took for granted; they did it, and they continued in it.
    3. Is this how your own relationship with Jesus can be described?  Have you made the choice to love & believe upon Jesus?  If so, are you continuing in that love & faith today?  Many people might say they once decided to follow Jesus, but they certainly cannot describe their lives that way today.  Others never made the choice at all.  Make the choice!  Love Jesus, believe upon Him.  Stay in that choice!  Abide in Jesus, dwell in Him.  In that alone do we have eternal assurance.
  4. Notice that this was the disciples’ own assurance that God Himself loved them.  Apart from their love & faith in Jesus, they had no assurance of the φιλεω love of God.  Again, God does love the world, but He does so from a general standpoint.  Jesus has been given for all the world, but not all the world is saved.  We have to enter into a relationship with Jesus, to specially love Him & believe Him in order to know that we have been specially loved by God, saved by Him & His grace.  IOW, we have to respond to the general love of God for us through Jesus if we are to ever know the special love of God reserved for us because of Jesus.
    1. Is this exclusive?  Yes, and without apology.  This special love of God is not extended to atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, or even Jews.  The special love of God is reserved for those who have specially loved Jesus.  Christians alone have a direct relationship with God – for everyone else, sin stands in the way.  This was Jesus’ point way back in Ch 14 when all of this teaching began: John 14:6, " Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."  There is ONE way to the special eternal love of God: only through Jesus Christ.
  5. What did the disciples believe?  Simply what Jesus went on to say in vs. 28…

28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

  1. Jesus perfectly (and succinctly!) summarizes His ministry with this one statement.  This is what the disciples believed about Jesus, and it was the absolute truth.
    1. Jesus “came forth from the Father”: He had eternal glory with God, being the λογος word of God Himself.
    2. Jesus came “into the world”: The word became flesh & dwelt among us as God incarnate.  The infinite glory of God clothed Himself in humanity and lived as a human, teaching eternal truth & performing signs & wonders.
    3. Jesus was about to “leave the world”: Speaking here of His passion.  He was about to be sacrificed at the cross as the sin offering for mankind.  He would pay the price for sin that we could never pay.
    4. Jesus would “go to the Father”: The grave would not be the end, because the resurrection would follow.  And not only would Jesus rise from the grave, but He would physically rise from the earth, ascending to His heavenly Father, returning to the eternal glory that He always shared with God.
  2. This is what Jesus came to do & what He accomplished.  This is what we believe.  We are to believe who He is, what He has done, and what He is currently doing.  Those who do have the assurance of everlasting life.  Jesus has the victory, and our eternity rests upon that fact.
  3. This is a lot to take in, and the disciples respond in vs. 29…

29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

  1. The disciples respond by declaring their understanding – at least, as much as they actually do understand.  Two things are mentioned: (1) they understand Jesus’ teaching, and (2) they understand Jesus’ identity.
    1. Teaching.  It seems strange that the disciples would all of a sudden claim that they now believed that Jesus was “speaking plainly,” considering that Jesus was basically saying the same thing He had been saying since the beginning of Ch. 13, and they have had plenty of misunderstandings so far!  Yet at this point, they believed they understood – it was at least beginning to make sense for them the more times Jesus repeated it. If nothing else, Jesus was speaking clearly of the time that He would speak clearly, and they clearly understood Him on that point.
    2. Identity.  The bigger issue was that in all of Jesus’ teaching, they finally came to a better understanding of Jesus’ identity.  It wasn’t that they had not declared their faith in Jesus before (they had!), but it began to make sense on a whole new level.  They grew in their understanding and appreciation of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
  2. Interestingly, it did not come through a miracle or some kind of supernatural visible sign (although Jesus had provided many in the past, and would provide a major one in His resurrection).  It came through His knowledge of their own faith, and (more to the point) it came through His doctrine.  The things Jesus said & taught had convinced the disciples of Jesus’ omniscience.  He knew “all things,” and that placed him beyond the “question[s]” and petty tests of the priests & Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus intellectually.  How exactly does someone test the Son of God with Bible trivia or unanswerable riddles?  The One who knows all things knows even the answers to the unanswerable questions!  All of this was proven by His doctrine/teaching.  The more the disciples heard the teaching of Jesus, the more they were convinced of His deity.
    1. This is one reason we spend so much time teaching the word of God.  The better we know Jesus’ teaching, the better we know Jesus Himself.  The more we receive His word, the more we see Him as God.  How could it be otherwise?  Given enough time, our words always reveal us for who we are.  Lies are eventually exposed – hate is eventually revealed – ego can no longer be suppressed, etc.  The same is true in the positive.  God is going to be revealed as God, simply because He cannot hide His perfection.  If you put the Bible up to any other religious or philosophical text in the world & interpret each within its proper historical context, the Bible will always come out on top.  Why?  Because the word of God reveals God in all of His perfection.  His holiness, grace, mercy, love, etc., is revealed from the first pages of Genesis to the final pages of Revelation.
  3. Remember that one of the major components of Jesus’ teaching (especially on this particular night) was His coming resurrection.  He repeatedly taught how He would go away, come back, and then go to His Father in heaven.  Although this entire section in the gospel of John could be thought of as a “farewell speech,” Jesus over & over again emphasized live beyond the farewell.  This was not truly the end; it was only a change.  It was a transition.  The resurrection assured that much, and it was in the hope of the resurrection that the disciples could believe.
    1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ truly does give us solid evidence & hope for our faith.  It is THE definitive proof that Jesus is the Son of God.  If you can affirm the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection, then you too can join with the disciples in saying, “By this we believe that You came forth from God.

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

  1. The disciples may have believed at the moment, but they would soon have their doubts & times of trial.  Nearly every major Bible translation poses Jesus’ response to the disciples as a question – and the Greek texts in use today have that sort of punctuation.  Yet it’s important to know that the original text did not have punctuation.  Although it’s reasonable to interpret Jesus’ statement as a question, it could simply be a statement. I.e., “Now you believe…” or (per NIV) “You believe at last!”  The disciples had believed to an extent – now they believed to an extent more.  But it’s possible that they didn’t have as much faith as they thought they did.  Like Peter, they were all willing to declare their unwavering faith, but didn’t understand what it was they were about to face.  (BTW – beware cockiness!  That is a red-carpet invitation to the devil for testing.)
  2. In any case, whatever faith they had was about to be put to the test.  The “hour” was at hand for Jesus’ arrest & their abandonment of Him.  Zechariah 13:7 prophesied that when the Shepherd was struck, the sheep would be scattered, and the countdown to that event was on.  Soon 10 of the 12 disciples would flee Jesus, one would deny knowing Him, and one would betray Him to His death.  Humanly speaking, Jesus would be left utterly alone.
  3. Spiritually speaking, Jesus would never be alone.  His Father would never abandon Him.  True, for a moment in time, there was a mysterious forsaking as God poured out His holy wrath upon Jesus.  We cannot know what all happened in that moment, but even then Jesus was never alone.  The Father would always be on either side of the cross & even in the darkest moments, He was sovereign over it all.  To the Father, Jesus is & will always be His beloved Son, in whom He is well-pleased.
    1. BTW – that same assurance that Jesus had from His Father is the same assurance that all of us can have as children of God.  Those who have believed upon Jesus as Lord are never alone.  You might be abandoned by friends & family – some might be left to rot in prison – but no believer in Jesus is ever fully alone.  Our God is always with us, and His power is fully available to us just as much in our times of suffering as in our times of blessing.  Christian: know that you are loved by God & you are never alone.

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

  1. The conclusion to it all: have “peace” – have courage.  Why?  Because Jesus has victory.  Jesus wraps up His farewell teaching similarly to how He began: John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me."  There would indeed be troubles that come – there would be all kinds of “tribulation” (pressure/affliction) faced by the disciples & all those who believe in Jesus.  But we need not be troubled by troubles.  Jesus specifically told us of these things in order that we would have peace.  He wanted us to have hope & courage, to “be of good cheer.”  How is that all possible?  It sounds so illogical.  After all, troubles DO grieve us & no one wants to face persecution or other suffering that was promised by Jesus.  Jesus never once promises to remove the disciples (or anyone else) from the troubles; He promises peace in the midst of them.  A calm heart in the middle of a storm is truly the most secure place you can be!  After all, times of outward peace never guarantee any inner peace.  Some of the most insecure people you’ll ever meet are the richest & healthiest.  It’s not that money or health are bad; they just aren’t any guarantee of peace.  The most stressed-out person you’ll ever meet is the eventual winner of the next Powerball lottery, because of their new money; not because of a lack of it.  But a calm heart – a steadfast heart – a person that know peace no matter what?  THAT person is secure.  That is a person that truly knows the Lord Jesus.  That doesn’t come through philosophy, minimalism, or meditation – that kind of peace can only come from the Author of peace.  That kind of peace only comes from the only Person who truly makes peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. How so?  Through His victory. Jesus says “I have overcome the world.”  Jesus has conquered the cosmos – He has obtained victory over all of the world’s opposing systems.  The “world” was guaranteed to throw all kinds of trials at the disciples – Jesus specifically promised that the world would hate them (15:19).  But no matter what the world might do, Jesus did something greater.  Jesus had the guaranteed victory, and it was one that was already accomplished.  The same grammatical tense used of the disciples’ love & faith in Jesus is used of Jesus’ victory.  It is an action totally completed in the past, with ongoing results into the present.  Jesus hadn’t yet gone to the cross, and it was already a done-deal.  His crucifixion & resurrection was something that was already accomplished from before the foundations of the world; the only thing that it was waiting for was to play out in real-time.  There was never any doubt about Jesus’ resurrection & victory over the grave – so there was not to be any doubt of Jesus’ victory over the world.  It’s already done, completed to the utmost.  Fait-accomplit.
  3. This is the hope that would get the disciples through their trials & tribulation.  They were about to enter into their own hour of suffering along with Jesus’ arrest, but it was nothing compared to what they would face in the future.  Over the next several hours & days, they would be wrenched from head-to-toe internally, as they grieved the death of their Lord.  But in the months and years to come, they would face physical beatings, imprisonment, and torture unto their own death.  They would face trials like they never faced in the past…but they could do so confidently & with peace & courage.  Why?  Because their Lord had the victory.  Their Lord was risen from the dead.  Their Lord had ascended to God the Father.  Their Lord gave them the Holy Spirit.  Their Lord would have the final say at the final judgment.
    1. Their Lord is our Lord, and our Lord is victorious!  There is nothing in the world that possibly compares with Christ, and there is certainly nothing that is greater than Him.  No suffering can match His grace – no attack from the devil can match His advocacy – no sin can overwhelm His forgiveness.  Our Lord is greater, for our Lord is victorious!
    2. Do you believe it?  Not just from a head-knowledge intellectual sort of way – but do you believe it from your toes up?  Do you know that our Lord Jesus has overcome the world?  THAT is the hope that gives peace.  THAT is the hope that helps us hold on, though we feel trapped and overwhelmed.  THAT is the kind of hope no one can take from us, no matter who abandons us & how much our culture rejects us.  And that is the kind of peace & hope Jesus desires us to have, and freely makes available to us.  Believe…know the victory of Jesus!

It had been a long evening for the disciples, and it was only about to get longer.  The disciples were about to enter into the darkest hours they ever faced.  They were truly about to go through massive change…but that change was a good thing.  They would have change in their relationship with God & understanding of God.  Jesus was going to the Father, but they would have direct communication with the Father, and a greater understanding of Jesus’ teaching and identity.  It would all come in the day of Jesus’ victory, as He rose from the grave & ascended to God in heaven.  They would have their faith tested in the meantime, but they could have hope beyond the testing because Jesus had promised that He had overcome it all.  They were beloved by God, and they were promised the peace of Christ – all because Jesus had the victory.

So ask yourself: do you believe?  You say you have faith…good!  Is it faith in which you’re abiding?  Is it faith that continues?  Is it faith that goes beyond the cross & all the way to Jesus’ current resurrected life & victory over sin, death, the devil, and the world?  That is the kind of faith to which we are called, and that is the only kind of faith that will allow us to know the peace that passes understanding.

Keep in mind that this kind of peace is promised only to Christians – to those who have humbled themselves unto God, believing upon Jesus as Lord & loving Him as their God.  If you haven’t done that, then you honestly have no access to the peace of God.  Right now, you’re still at war against God, fighting against Him in your flesh.  Every sin you commit – every lie, lustful thought, selfish act, etc., confirms your rebellion against the God who gave you life & who loved you enough to send His Son to die on your behalf.  That is the general love of God for you, but you can experience the special love of God when you turn away from your sins & believe upon Jesus as your Lord.  Only then can you have confidence to go to directly to God in prayer, being assured of His eternal love for you & His eternal provision for you through Jesus Christ.  


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