Peace, Part 2: The Simple Source of Strength (or, This Week’s Episode is Brought to You By…)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1 (ESV)

If the Gospel of John were a television series, this is the point at the beginning of episode 14 where the announcer would say, “Previously – on the Gospel of John.”  And we would get the replay of John 13 in short video bites:

  • Jesus washes the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper, teaching them the importance of servanthood and humility.
  • The betrayer in their midst (Judas Iscariot) is revealed.
  • A new commandment is given: love one another.
  • Jesus begins breaking the news to His disciples: they won’t be able to follow Him – at least not for awhile.
  • Peter is told a bitter truth about his faith, and himself.

As the camera closes in on Simon Peter’s downtrodden face, we hear Jesus say, ““Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”

Roll opening title sequence and cool Newsboys theme music.

Of course this is no TV show.  This is reality.  And chapter 13 of John’s gospel presents a lot of reality being dumped on these unsuspecting disciples in a very short span of time.

Indeed, it all takes place during the course of one Passover meal.

And, sadly, Judas Iscariot is not the only betrayer revealed this night.  In a sense, Peter is outed as well (although his “betrayal” is not a case of premeditated deception, but a lack of true faith in Jesus’ promises resulting in Peter’s thrice denial of knowing the Lord).

Try to imagine how deflated and confused these men must have felt.  Jesus said, “Follow me”.  And they did – leaving everything behind and walking with Jesus for around three years.  Now He is telling His disciples they cannot go where He is headed?

Things would get worse as the night – the weekend – progressed.  But the lows of Friday and Saturday will be more than justified by the unsurpassable glory of the coming Sunday dawn.

But, for now, they had no real idea of what was about to hit them.

And Jesus is giving them the words they will need to remember: “Don’t worry.  Just believe in Me.”

Jesus knew they would run for their lives.  He knew they would be afraid.  He understood their human frailties.

But He loved them.  The flaws did not change the fact that these were His disciples.  Jesus was there, preparing the remaining eleven for the road ahead.  The changes would be great, as would be the pressure and the temptations.

The same holds true for us today.  We are God’s children.  The Lord loves us, despite our failures and weaknesses.  He guides us, even / especially when the path ahead is rocky and treacherous.

It is the reason Paul could later take the words Christ gave him with great confidence and hope:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

Quite simply, we are to called to follow Jesus, without fear of anything, in great faith, clinging to hope, knowing He is in control and we are part of God’s plan and God’s plan will not be thwarted.

People can threaten us. They can make us uncomfortable.  But they cannot separate us from God.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)

Walk out today with fresh faith.  Look to the Lord and His promises.  See what Jesus has done for you because of His great love.  And do not be afraid of any circumstances.

There is nothing too hard for God.  Trust Him – no matter what.

 

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