Wednesday, June 20, 2012

John 15:26-27; 16:1-4

Jesus is preparing the disciples for what lies ahead so they won’t be overcome by discouragement when they are persecuted. They have just heard from Him that, rather than be heroes to the world, as followers of the Messiah they will be hated. These men were not educated orators, so they would surely be intimidated about public speaking even if they thought they were going to be well-received. But now they learn that their ministry will be even more daunting. They might have been thinking, “There is no way we can do this!” But Jesus now assures them that He will not be leaving them alone and helpless:

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. 

“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.  I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. (John 15:26-27; 16:1-4)

The Father would be sending the Holy Spirit to these men , and the Spirit would first testify to them and to the world about Jesus, then these disciples would also give their testimonies. In fact, Jesus says they must testify! And what kind of reception would their testimony receive? They would be cast out of the fellowship of the synagogue and hunted down! This is exactly what Paul did before he met Christ. He thought he was doing God’s work by tracking down and even killing Christians.

I don’t know about you, but being told I might die, would not make me want to sign up for this gig! But Jesus does not come to us with false promises or claims. He spells out the cost of discipleship so that these men (and we) would not be discouraged when the trials come.

One of the things I tell my fifth graders to prepare them for middle school is that they will ALL be going through a rough period during those years. There isn’t one kid, no matter how popular or good looking, who doesn’t have days of feeling awkward and ugly and alone. All students going through those years feel insecure about how they look, and they are sure no one could possibly like them. And the result is that they are sometimes sullen and mean! I don’t want these kids to think they are weird when they feel these emotions; these feelings are normal. I want them to be prepared ahead of time.

On a much larger scale, Jesus wants the disciples prepared for what they will be facing when they go out and testify. Their new “normal” won’t be easy! Proclaiming Christ requires boldness and strength that we just don’t have without the help of the Holy Spirit. Next, He will lay out in more detail just how the Holy Spirit will work through them. Let’s lean in and listen!

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