Overcome the world! – John 16:16-33

Overcome the world! – John 16:16-33
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 15, 2013

I have learned that the only certainties we have life are more than death and taxes; I also believe there is the certainty of our faith and that things in life will change. The radio host Paul Harvey stated, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.” Life happens whether we like it or not and no amount of worrying will change the outcome; however, we can overcome the world and what it throws at us.

There are those who struggle everyday in order to just get through the day, however, there are also those times when each of us wonder how we will get through another day. Jesus’ disciples would face such a predicament soon and so Jesus begins to share with them not only how tough it will be but also how they can overcome the world they live in because of their faith in him. Let’s see how we are to overcome the world…

READ: John 16:16-33

Life is short whether you live mere minutes or for decades. One of the greatest mysteries is that we were created for eternity and lost that existence. Yet God has given us eternal life through Jesus and because of this we learn that…

I. We overcome the world knowing Jesus lives! (John 16:16-20 NIV)

“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’? They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

1. Jesus keeps trying to be honest with his followers, but they often simply do not understand because they had never experienced what Jesus was talking about. He tells them, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” Jesus was going to be illegally tried, convicted, and then put to death. They would not see him until after his resurrection, so “Some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”? They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” What is happening here is the fact that whenever we are faced with something that does not fit the pattern in life that we are most comfortable with, we become agitated or confused. This is what is occurring with the disciples. “Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”?'” Jesus is trying to comfort them in their confusion. This is what God always desires to do when we are confused or frightened by what life throws our way. This is one reason why Jesus came, to make sense of God in a senseless world. Remember John related at the very beginning of his gospel that, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11 NIV) Paul writes, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:8-9 NIV) The tremendous truth is Jesus would not be gone forever, “I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” We overcome the world knowing Jesus lives!

EXAMPLE: We are such emotional folks, yet God knows this because he knows us. He knew that when faced with the sinfulness of the world around us we would wonder where God might be. He knew his own disciples would wonder when faced with his illegal trial, brutal beatings, and his ultimate death. Yet in the midst of the horrors of this world is the tremendous truth that Jesus lives. Their sorrow would be turned to joy because Jesus would indeed live again! We overcome the world knowing Jesus lives!

The tough times we go through are tempered by the knowledge of knowing because Jesus lives, we too shall live. Yet we can forget this truth when we are constantly barraged by the ungodliness of the world. The wonderful truth is found here in John’s gospel, Jesus related that…

II. We have overcome the world and are not blinded by our sin! (John 16:21-25 NIV)

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”

1. Confused as to what Jesus is teaching them the disciples are kind of dumbfounded. So Jesus continues by relating to them something they could understand. He tells them, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” One of the greatest times of agony and joy is when a woman gives birth. While the birth of a child is filled with a lot of pain, the new life, the nurturing, and the raising of the child is filled with a lot of love and joy. One far outweighs the other. Jesus explains that “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” The joy the disciples would experience would be the resurrection of Jesus and their faith in him afterwards which would last forever. No one can take away one’s faith. Remember Jesus had told them, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV) And, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28 NIV) After Jesus’ resurrection they would see him and finally know that what he said about himself was true, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” We forget that the relationship we now enjoy is one of complete joy. It is not based on works, blind faith, or robotic adherence. It is personal, intimate, and complete. Their relationship with Jesus would change forever after his Ascension and ours as well. In fact, “Though [Jesus had] been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when [he would] no longer use this kind of language but [he would] tell [them] plainly about [his] Father.” Because of the gift of his Spirit in us we now understand the deep spiritual things of God. We have overcome the world and are not blinded by our sin!

EXAMPLE: I had a young woman once lament, “It is so tough to be a Christian!” Yes it is and Jesus knew it would be. You see it is easy to sin because sin is just doing whatever you want when you want to do it. It is selfishness at its core. This is why much of the world in our day is so self-focused. It loves sin because sin is selfish. Yet those who have decided to give their lives to Jesus now have the blindness of sin cleared away. We have overcome the world and are not blinded by our sin!

Herein John’s gospel we discover the nitty-gritty of what the gospel is and what it does. How sad is it then when believers forget what they now enjoy in Jesus. The grace of God expressed in Jesus gives us something more than just happiness for the moment or a new way of doing things, we find that…

III. Because of Jesus we have overcome the world! (John 16:26-33 NIV)

“In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” “You believe at last!” Jesus answered. “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

1. The world and its relationship to the Creator of the universe would change forever. There are those who think we beseech God to answer our prayers or that we do certain acts of contrition or absolution in order to gain or garner God’s grace, this is patently false and heresy. Jesus tells his followers that when he ascends that afterwards “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” Here is the key, our faith in Jesus, not some rite or ritual. God’s grace is given to us not because of anything we do but because of his love for us! We do not have to ask Jesus to ask God, he is God, and he has given us his love because we have believed in him and love him! Jesus can do this because he “came from the Father and entered the world” and now was “leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Paul would remind us that is the same Jesus who is “interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34 NIV) We are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) Jesus’ disciples seem to begin to have a glimmer of what he was trying to teach them and exclaim: “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” Though the disciples thought they understood, Jesus knew their limitations and the phrase “You believe at last!” could be better translated “Do you really now believe?” I believe this is why Jesus responds to their declaration with, “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” While they would be running scared, Jesus would not. He knew who he was. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is why Paul would write, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 NIV) Because of Jesus we have overcome the world!

EXAMPLE: In C. S. Lewis’ book God in the Dock, he wrote: “Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.” Lewis cleverly used this contrast between a hotel and a prison to illustrate how we view life based on our expectations. He says, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” Sometimes we expect that life should always be happy and pain-free. But that is not what the Bible teaches. For the believer, this world is a place of spiritual development through both good times and bad. France and the world right now are wondering perhaps where was God recently, however we learn that Jesus was realistic when he explained what to expect in life. He told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In facing life’s blessings and bruises, we can have the inner peace that God is orchestrating events according to His sovereign plan. Christ’s presence in our lives enables us to “take heart” even in the midst of pain. Because of Jesus we have overcome the world!

Conclusion:

We overcome the world knowing Jesus lives! We have overcome the world and are not blinded by our sin! Because of Jesus we have overcome the world!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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