John 16.17-33 — Peace

Wow. The disciples really don’t get it. The Gospel writers aren’t shy about portraying them as clueless. But then Jesus talks to them in figurative language that seems like riddles. Looking back on it, we know what he’s talking about: He is going to be executed, which will make his enemies very happy and his friends beside themselves with grief. But in a very short time his friends will have a joy that they can’t even imagine. He likens it to childbirth: excruciating pain followed by amazing peace and joy. And when he returns to them, they’ll realize there are no limits to what God can do.

They had failed to understand Jesus’ words, but they at least believe that he came from God. That’s a good step. Jesus is thrilled with their understanding, as limited as it is.

“The reason I’ve told you these things,” Jesus concludes, “is to that you’ll have peace.” Maybe they’re thinking politically still (He’s going to kick Rome out of our land), or maybe just that they’ll sleep OK that night (little do they know…). But they should know by now that Jesus always means deeper than what it sounds like. He’s also talking about peace with God—a relationship with him that will come from his death and resurrection. Oh, the world is filled with trouble all right. Trouble that never goes away. Then he plants on them, “But take heart. I have overcome the world.” They don’t understand, but the reign of sin is about to be broken. His cross and resurrection will bring a victory over death itself.

Powerful stuff.

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