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War is not something that most people would want to find themselves in the middle of, but I would imagine if one did, they would want to be on the winning side.
And we know that wars are not won or lost in a single battle. Rather it is the collective of wins and losses over many battles that determines who wins or loses.
So we strategize, learn from past losses, and train so that we can ultimately claim victory.
But victory, even if you find it does not come without casualties. It does not come without loss, fear, pain, and suffering.
And the same is true of the spiritual battles we face in this life.
The Christian life is one that at its very core is one that is defined by victory. In fact we are not people who are striving for victory, but operating from victory.
But that doesn’t mean that it is easy. In fact, contrary to what some want to believe and even teach, you should expect to experience loss, pain, heartache, and suffering.
If that is an expectation, if we know that we will inevevitably face those things, then how can we claim to operate from a position of victory?
I think that to answer that question we need to look at how Jesus defines victory.
Power in the Text
Power in the Text
In the Gospel of John Jesus is having a coversation with his disciples about a time coming soon when he would leave them. Specfically he was referring to his impending crucifixion.
And is trying to explain to them that when it happens, it will seem like a crushing defeat. However, as they will discover, it will be this apparent defeat that ultimately secure their victory.
John 16:5-15 NLT 5 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
Here we see Jesus trying to get the disciples to focus on what is most important, the bigger picture. They are so focused on what is happening in the moment that they can’t see God’s bigger plan.
All they know is Jesus is leaving and they don’t like it.
But as Jesus explains to them here, this is necessary. The sadness and pain they are about to experience is temporary and that even better things will come as a result.
Here we see Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit who will come as an advocate or counselor; one who will guide them in all things as they spend their lives serving God.
Jesus tells them that as much as they don’t want to see him go, it will be better for them if he does. Jesus in his human flesh is limited to time and space.
When he leaves, then God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit who is not limited by time and space will come and be able to be with all of them at all times and in all places.
He tells them that not only will the Holy Spirit be their advocate, he will be the one to convict a broken world of their sin and lead the lost to the Father.
Jesus also speaks of judgement here. He says judgment is coming because the ruler of this world (Satan) has already been judged.
Satan’s fate has been sealed, there are no do overs for him. God has already rendered his judgment, but he has suspended the sentence for the time being.
But a time is coming when God’s patiance over sin will be over and Satan’s sentence will be carried out, along with all who as Jesus says in verse 9 “refuses to believe in me”.
He tells the disciples though that they don’t have to worry about this judgement because they will have the advocate who will reveal all truth to them so that they don’t get sucked into believing the lies that the world believes.
Look at what happens next.
John 16:16-22 NLT 16 “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” 17 Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? 18 And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.
21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
Big Idea/Why it Matters
Big Idea/Why it Matters
So often like us, the disciples still weren’t getting it. They could not see how Jesus leaving was to their benefit. They could not see how the temporary pain of him leaving would lead to a great joy.
So he explains that like a mother giving birth, while extremely painful, endures it to experience the joy on the other side of it.
I don’t know what you are going through right now, but I believe that God wants you to know this morning that the difficulty you are facing right now will give way to joy.
That the pain you feel and the struggle you are facing isn’t the result of God abandoning you. It is quite the opposite, it is because God has something better for you on the other side. But you have to trust him and listen to his counsel.
Jesus already secured your victory, you don’t have to look for it. You just have to look to him and take hold of it. Allow him to lead you to it.
Jesus ends this part of the conversation in...
John 16:33 NLT 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
He is saying just when it seems like all hope is lost. Just when it seems like you can’t keep going. Just when it looks like the enemy is going to win Jesus says, not so fast. Don’t you know, I’ve already won.
I wonder what would happen in our lives if we really started living like we believe this to be true.
How many opportunities have we passed up because of a fear of failure?
How many times have we ignored the call of God in our lives because we didn’t think we had what it would take?
I want you to think about that one thing you know God is leading toward or even away from but you are too scared to follow. Ask yourself, do you really believe he has already won?
Maybe you don’t know what God wants you to do. If you are a follower of Jesus you have the advocate living within you so it isn’t a matter of not having access to that answer. Maybe its a matter of not taking the time stop long enought and be quiet long enough to actually hear what he has to say.
There is the notion that we have to recognize is false that if Jesus won on the cross then why does evil still exist.
Like in any war, when it ends, this doesn’t mean the battles stop immediately. The enemy and his forces know that they have ultimately lost, but that doesn’t stop them from still trying to fight back.
The truth is, the words that Jesus shard with these disciples are so applicable to us today. We are living in a world that is growing increasingly hostile toward the God of the Bible.
We live in a world that rejects the authority of scripte and celebrates sin in all its ugly forms. As a whole, it has rejected the offering for sin made on its behalf, it has reject Jesus Christ.
And as Jesus told his disciples, he says the same to us, judgment is coming. Do not for a second doubt that it will.
And while we as his people will be spared the worst of it, the truth is like the disciples we will have many trials and sorrows in this world.
But we too can take heart because the one we serve has overcome this world.
We are but travelers in this world; moving through it on our way to our true home.
The place that we were always meant to live. Citizens of a Kingdom that has no end, where sin and death do not exist, where God is king and where we will enjoy his presence forever and ever, amen.