The message of John 16 is all about the eventual departure of Christ from the earth to return to the Father. We get the strong sense now that Jesus’ days on earth are numbered. The final words of the chapter offer us considerable hope: “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.”
As for Godliness, and living a God-honoring life, we see that his disciples believe. They were happy that Jesus finally was speaking clearly, they were like, “we get it, you spoke plainly, yippee!” Jesus’ follow-up question is borderline troubling in verse 31 “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.”
Everything the disciples came to know, love and appreciate about Christ was about to be taken from them. They were soon to be scattered. Jesus comforts the disciples with these words “I have overcome the world.” What is interesting, the “overcoming” hasn’t happened yet and Jesus expresses a confidence that he will overcome. For the godly, those who choose to follow Christ, there will be scattering. But Jesus gives his disciples hope, he will send an advocate (the Spirit), and he has overcome the world. We have both our help and hope in Jesus Christ.
That then is our application for the world and individually. We may find strength and hope in Jesus. Whatever struggles we may face, whatever persecution we hear on the news for Christians, whatever heartache we may face in our life, we know we have help and hope in Jesus. He is our strength and he has overcome the world.
Prayer – Father, in this life there is heartache. I can look on the news and hear horrific story, one after the other of the effects of sin. The pain, heartache and suffering that happens is often overwhelming. I read of Christians who are in far off areas of the world who face persecution daily. Give them peace and strength in Jesus Christ. I thank you that I have help in Christ through his Spirit. Jesus is my Peace and Strength, may that peace and strength be of sustenance and help to those facing persecution daily. In Jesus Name, Amen.
How comforting it is that Jesus prayed for me while he was on the earth “I do not ask for these only (his disciples), but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” 17:20-21
What a mission we have from this prayer, to be united together that people may know the Truth about Jesus and where he came from. Our unity as Christians reveals the unity of the Son and the Father and proves Jesus is sent from God. A question that might come from this is “Why would God want us (the church) to be his representatives of the unity and relationship of the Father and the Son?” It seems like a poor strategy. Not that I want to tell God what to do, but it just seems like a poor plan to rely on me and my relationship with others to be unified together to show the unity of the Father and the Son. Our unity as fellow believers in Christ is to show that Jesus is from God. I hesitate because Christians sometimes aren't so good at being unified. But I think God chose our unity together as Christians to be a sign of the Father and Son's unity for the glory of God. When we do experience earthly unity, the perfect unity Jesus prays for, it’s beautiful. Yeah, the process, may at times, be ugly, but when we work through our relationships and find love for one another and raise our hands together for Christ, there is nothing more beautiful than unified believers together called the bride of Christ.
That’s our hope, unity. It gives us purpose to pursue unity and to work through difficult relationships. I’ve had to work on a lot of relationships, trying to find unity and mutual love for one another. I tell you, it doesn’t come easy, but it is my vision that I wouldn’t have an enemy who is also a Christian. Certainly, as Jesus mentioned earlier that the world will hate his followers because it hated him too; I won’t avoid having no enemies at all. Christians though, ought be driven towards unity. Denominationalism seems like a compromise to me. A compromise from doing the hard work of seeking unity and love. We may never find total agreement on everything, but the heart of the Restoration movement (Church of Christ, Christian Church) and the prayer of John 17 are the same thing: unity and love in Jesus Christ.
Let us strive together to bring about unity and do what all we can to seek unity and love. Let us not resolve to “agree to disagree,” rather “agree to unify” and pursue common ground in Christ. Thank goodness this is not only our prayer, but also the prayer of Christ. One day we will find unity in Jesus Christ. His prayer will be answered. I eagerly wait for the day we may all find ourselves in perfect unity with one another. We have reason for hope that this is possible. Paul’s vision for the church was for unity as well, he often described it as a community of believers where what formerly was cause for division was overcome because of life in Christ: “Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free.”
Let’s continue our Lord’s Prayer: “O Righteous Father, we eagerly await the unity of all believers. May we taste together in our church the unity that is shared between You and your Son, Jesus. As you and the Son are one, may we have unity and love with one another who are Christians. In an age of denominationalism, we long for unity. We ask for more than just community cooperation, but mutual love and affection for fellow believers. Let our love grow together towards unity in Christ. Undeniably, there will be times of great struggle and disagreement, may we be compelled by the prayer of Christ to seek unity and love in him. In Jesus name, Amen.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.