Have you ever had moments when you were just scared to death? What has terrified you the most or given you the most unrest in your spirit? Maybe it was news coverage of a calamity or evil on world news or the announcement of a local tragedy. Or for you, it may be the political state of our nation or just politics in general, both international and domestic. We all have things that we fear and that give us anxiety and unrest. Yesterday was the remembrance of September 11th, the day fifteen years ago when all of America was struck with fear by the destruction of three key buildings and icons of American liberty. Since then, there have been many acts of terror, tragedy, and evil committed around the world that can cause us to fear and fret. Therefore, the final words Jesus speaks to His disciples in the Great Discourse are a timely message for us.
Joy. We hear that word so often within the Christian world. There are multiple books written on why one must obtain it, sermons dedicated to the pursuance of it, and within this John 7-21 Study we already looked at “Fullness of Joy” being found by abiding in the Vine. So why are we going to look at this quality again? Why rehash such a reoccurring subject? Well, because Jesus brings it up again. The word joy is used seven times in the gospel of John and four of them are found in John 16. So this is obviously an important topic to Jesus!
Have you ever experienced the uncomfortable pricking of your conscience? Doesn’t it make you feel miserable and tie your insides up in knots after you’ve done something you shouldn’t have? It’s been said that the conscience is man’s internal moral compass pointing out the difference between right and wrong. Well, the world also has a conscience whether it knows and appreciates it or not. Its name is the Holy Spirit.
Although the Holy Spirit was promised in John 14, Jesus goes back and continues to share its purpose in John 16, with one of them being to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
As we close out our time in John 15 and move on to chapter sixteen, Jesus gives us the perfect segue as He continues to impart life-giving teaching to His disciples. He gives us the reason why He’s investing so much time and energy into the teachings and doctrines of the Upper Room Discourse. So take a look at this verse:
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.”
As we come to the end of John 15, a few verses pop out at me as an important word for us.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”
In this passage, Jesus is speaking of the world and more specifically the Pharisees who persecuted and hated Him despite the signs and wonders He had done among them. They were the descendants of Abraham, the treasurers of God’s promises, the academic elite, and the ones to whom the entire nation of Israel looked to for spiritual knowledge and guidance. The Pharisees knew all the promises about the coming Messiah, but when they finally saw Him they rejected Him and refused to believe that Jesus was the One. Amazing right?!
Have you ever been on a walk in the woods and found a fruit-bearing apple tree in the midst of the wild, overgrown forest? It’s such an unexpected blessing, a thing of beauty in the midst of an untamed wilderness and the only thing bearing life-giving fruit. So also, we, as fruitful branches abiding in the Vine, are like rare apple trees living amidst a forest of evergreens, hardwoods, or conifers. And just like the wild forest slowly tries to overgrow the lone fruit-bearing tree, so also the depraved and perverted world we live in slowly tries to squeeze us until we break. However, in John 15, Jesus told His disciples—which includes us!—to expect this.
What is one of the first things you think of when you hear the word joy? Do you picture the sheer excitement of a child on Christmas morning or the radiant smile of a bride on her wedding day? Well, this week we’re going to take a closer look at the meaning of joy, where to find it, and the many positive benefits of possessing it.
After laying out the sobering reality of what happens to the branches that bear fruit and those which do not, Jesus gives the reason why He was telling the Twelve these things:
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The image of the grape vine is a vivid example of how our relationship with Christ ought to be. It consists of a main vine that extends out to many, many branches pruned by an expert gardener to spread far and wide and bear much fruit. Have you ever seen a vineyard of well-maintained grape vines? It is pristine and beautiful to behold, with endless, perfectly straight rows of greenery stretching to the horizon. If you’ve ever visited or passed through Napa County California you’ve seen what I’m trying to describe.
In our last look at John, we studied peace—the kind only God can give. Now imagine that you are with the disciples in the Upper Room listening to Jesus teaching and you hear Him say that He is leaving to return to the Father. What would your first thoughts be? Would you understand what He was talking about? And if you did, would you fear a future without Him and His guidance?
Welcome to a new chapter of the gospel of John! I pray that your studies are going well and that God has been opening your eyes to the great treasures He has for you in each passage. I apologize for not writing last week, but hope you enjoyed my Valentine’s gift to you. In this week’s study of John, we’re going to focus on the first verse of chapter fourteen.
Life can be full of worries, anxieties, stressful situations, and sometimes tragedy, and these cares and concerns often burden our soul. However, as we learn from the verse above, Jesus commands us to trouble not and believe in God. Yet how often do we forget this and instead waste our time fretting over mundane concerns? Why do we so easily forget that God is always in control?