Tuesday, March 28, 2017
"Jesus Overcame" Sermon: John 16:25-33
March 26, 2017, Second Reformed Church
After Judas leaves to betray Him, Jesus gives the Eleven one last marathon teaching session in the Upper Room. Now, as Judas and the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers head for the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus concludes His teaching of the Eleven, and we cry out with Paul in the ancient creed:
“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: [God the Son] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by [God] the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (I Timothy 3:16, ESV).
The indwelling of God the Holy Spirit had not yet come, so the Eleven are still unclear as to Who Jesus is. Understand, they believe in Him, but they do not understand as they will when the Holy Spirit indwells them and reveals Jesus to them. And so, Jesus summarizes the Upper Room discourse and prepares them for what happens.
First, God the Father loves believers.
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
Jesus explains – admits – that He has taught the Eleven using figures of speech – specifically, He has used cryptic language – often in parables. Jesus specifically spoke in a way that was difficult to understand.
Why? What would be the point of speaking in a way that is difficult to understand and easily misunderstood?
Jesus was asked:
“Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them’” (Matthew 13:10-15, ESV).
Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy – so only those people God gave to Jesus to be His people would hear and savingly believe. Salvation is not given to all people, and those who do receive salvation are given it by God – we are not saved by our intellect or understanding – much less our goodness – we are saved because God chose a people for Himself. He is the Holy Spirit Who convicts us and makes us believers so we can understand and believe; we understand and believe Who Jesus is after we have been saved by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
And that is why the Eleven didn’t get it yet – God the Holy Spirit did not indwell them yet – so they could only understand so far. But Jesus promises that after He leaves, He will not speak to them in cryptic parables anymore, but plainly. How is that?
We thought about this last week: Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same One God, so when Jesus returns to the Father and the Holy Spirit indwells believers, the Holy Spirit speaks to us plainly – He helps us to understand the Word of God and guides us in all that He would have us do and be.
Then Jesus reminds them that with the coming of the Holy Spirit, they will pray to the Father in Jesus’ Name, and the Holy Spirit will advocate on our behalf as we pray – especially so we pray those things that the Father wills for us.
And the Father love believers – the Father loves the Eleven – the Father loves all those who believe in the Savior, God the Son Incarnate. God the Father loves us and gives us to His Son and we love the Son because the Father loves us, and the Father loves us for loving the Son.
As Paul writes: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV).
Do we hear what Paul says?
When we were dead in our sins, when we hated God, when we wanted nothing to do with God, when we had no interest in our salvation, when we couldn’t believe in the Savior, when we didn’t want to believe in the Savior, when we couldn’t understand the simplest thing about God, God the Father loved us – God the Father chose us to be His – before the very foundations of the world, God the Father – for His own reasons – nothing to do with how wonderful Christians are – God the Father chose to love and save a people.
So what did God the Father do in His Love? He sent His Son to become a human being – to live a perfect life under God’s Law – to die a horrific death – the Father sacrificed His Son – paying the debt for all of the sins of everyone who would ever believe and crediting those same people with Jesus’ righteousness – and then God raised Him – overcoming death, Hell, and the devil – Jesus physically rose and ascended back to the Father – and then the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all we who believe – because the Father loves believers. The Father loves you. The Father loves me.
Sometimes I hear people talk about the God of hate and wrath in the Old Testament and the God of love in the New Testament, but that’s a misunderstanding of the text. The picture is often portrayed of God the Father sitting in a judge’s chair, saying, “guilty, guilty, guilty! They must pay, pay, pay!” And the Son going to the Father and pleading with Him, “O Father, please don’t damn them, I love them so much I will go to earth and take their place to appease You.”
But that’s not what we’re told at all: “For God [the Father] so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son…”
Why is that important to know?
Well, for the Eleven, they were being accused of giving up the religion of Moses – the worship of the One True God. They would be hunted by the non-believing Jews and condemned as blasphemers. So, Jesus tells them to take comfort and rejoice in this: God the Father loves believers – and He always has!
Likewise, in whatever we endure for the sake of the Gospel, we are to remember that God the Father loves us – so much that He sacrificed His Son for us. So, if we lose our job, or family, or friends, or health, or even our life for professing the Gospel, God the Father loves us – and that will never change.
And, Jesus says, those the Father loves – those who love Jesus – believe that Jesus came from the Father – that He is One with the Father and came to earth in the person of Jesus and now is returning back to that Father.
What is Jesus saying?
Those that the Father and the Son love know and believe that Jesus is God Incarnate. Jesus is God the Son – He is deity. Christians believe Jesus is God.
Second, Jesus has overcome the world.
“His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’”
The Eleven get it! They understand that God the Father loves them and chose them and Jesus loves them and He is God.
In fact, they say that they don’t need to question Jesus – they don’t need to make sure He’s knows what He’s doing, because He knows everything – He is omniscient – He knows everything that is and was and will ever be because He is God Himself.
But – in another sense – they don’t get it. They are so excited about what Jesus tells them about the Father that they forget what He has been telling them about His leaving and the persecution – the tribulation – that is upon them.
And Jesus says, “Do you now believe?”
In other words, “It is easy to believe when everything is going well – when I am here with you, telling you that the Father loves you, but when all Hell breaks loose and I am crucified, you will all run and hide in your own homes and leave Me to face the wrath of the world alone.”
What the Eleven see happening to Jesus – and as they think about their own future – and if they may have been wrong about everything – they run and hide – frightened, confused, not knowing what to do next.
This was to fulfill prophecy:
“’Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,’ declares the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people”; and they will say, “The LORD is my God.”’” (Zechariah 13:7-9, ESV).
All the men – except for John – went into hiding when Jesus was crucified. But Jesus was not alone – the Father was with Him.
The Father was with Jesus as He hung on the cross – and all of Creation reacted to the crime being perpetrated against God. Yet, the most horrifying moment was when the Father forsook Jesus – pouring out His Full Wrath against all the sins of those He loves on His Innocent and Holy Son.
But Jesus’ thoughts were with the Eleven: “I have said these things – the entire Upper Room discourse – so that you may have peace in Me even though this is going to happen. I want you to have peace in Me as you sacrificially love one another. I want you to have peace in Me in knowing that the Father and I are the same One God. I want you to have peace in Me knowing that when I return to the Father, We will send God the Holy Spirit to indwell you. I want you to have peace in knowing that your life and growth is in Me – as branches in the Vine. I want you to have peace in Me knowing that just as the world hates Me, it will hate you, because you are Mine. I want you to have peace in Me knowing that when God the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world, guide you, and glorify Me. And I want you to have peace in Me because in a little while, I will return to the Father and in a little while God the Holy Spirit will indwell you. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. If you ask anything in My Name that is according to My Will, it will be done, because the Father loves you and I love you. Be at peace in Me, because I am the Sovereign God, and you are forever Mine.”
And Jesus makes them a final promise:
“In the world you will have tribulation – you will be persecuted for believing My Gospel – the world will hate you – even to death. You will suffer. But take heart; I have overcome the world – and because I love you and you are Mine, you also will overcome the world in the end.”
What is the worst that the world can do? Kill us? Jesus said not to fear the one who can only kill the body. Why? Because Jesus is Sovereign over life and death and will physically raise all of His people to eternal life on the last day. If they kill us, we get to be with Jesus sooner! If they torture us and steal from us and injure our loves ones, we pray for them, but we are at peace and rejoice because we are known as believers of Jesus as God the Son and Savior, the Incarnate Jesus.
The world will make us suffer. The world can make us unhappy. The world can make our lives difficult. The world can kill us. And they do. But Jesus has overcome the world – and through Him and in Him – we have overcome the world – so be at peace, be comforted, have hope – all is well – be of good cheer.
That’s what Jesus is telling the Eleven as they ready to go to the Garden of Gethsemane – “Be of good cheer, beloved! They are going to abuse Me and reject Me and kill Me, but I have overcome the world, and I will physically rise and return to the Father – and you will overcome the world as well – all is well!”
And some people will say that’s living in denial – that’s not reality. But the fact of the matter is that the world does not see – the world does not hear – our Beloved Father loves us and we have overcome the world through Jesus.
The earth is ours!
The kingdom is ours!
And all the glory and all the praise belongs to our Triune God!
Let us go forth to the Garden!
And let us pray:
Almighty God, we rejoice in the truth and sure hope that Jesus gave to the Eleven: we are stunned and humbled to know that You love us and that we have already overcome the world through Jesus. Grant us Your peace and hope as we grow into the Image of Your Son and suffer for His sake. Continue to forgive us for our sins, and may we daily love Jesus more and more and turn away from temptation to sin. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.