This morning we were reminded of the difficult reality that “in this world you will have trouble.” But we were also reminded of the wonderful promise that Jesus has overcome the world. We learned that in Jesus we are on the winning side!
How does the victory of Jesus become a daily and present reality in our life when the trouble of the world so often threatens to overwhelm us? The answer to that question comes in the other part of the verse we looked at this morning, which says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” This phrase is a part of the passage that precedes it, which is John 16:23-33. Let us read that passage and consider our response.
Jesus spoke these things at the time when he was about to go to the cross and just before his imminent departure to the Father. As he tells the disciples that He is leaving they are deeply disturbed. He paints a very clear picture of his own history to help them understand what is going on when he says in John 16:28, "I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” His purpose is to prepare them for this reality and to teach them how to live in it.
As Jesus announced his departure to His disciples, He was deeply concerned that they clearly understood where things stood. Although departure looked like a terrible loss to them, Jesus was letting them know that it was really an advance on God’s plan for His people.
The critical reality which was meant to encourage the disciples is that with the departure of Jesus, all His followers would enter into a new relationship with the Father. Speaking of the day of his departure he was saying that when he left He would not leave them alone. At that time, verse 23 indicates, they would not ask Jesus for anything. That is, of course, because He wouldn’t be there. But, the blessing is that God would then be in such a relationship with them that He would answer their concerns directly. They would not need to talk to Jesus, but would be able to talk directly to God. In verse 27, He encourages them “…the Father Himself loves you…” Once again he indicates that in a relationship with Jesus, they are able to have a direct relationship with the Father.
Jesus had spoken about this reality before, but always in parables and the disciples had never understood it. Now as Jesus spoke plainly to them they did understand. They realized that Jesus was from God and that in a relationship with Him, they could have a relationship with the Father. They rejoiced at this possibility.
When Jesus summarized his words to them in verse 33, he wrote, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” The critical idea in this phrase which the preceding verses have explained is that it is in a relationship with Jesus that they know the Father and have have a relationship with Him by which their needs are met. As I read this verse the words, “in me” jumped out at me. I realized that although we have trouble in the world we have the assurance of Christ’s victory over the world. Being “in Jesus” becomes the important reality for us. This is the strategy for victory for us as we go on in our Christian walk. Jesus is the one in whom we conquer.
So the question we should be thinking about is not to worry about the trouble in the world, nor to engage in a theoretical contemplation of the victory of Jesus, but we need to think about what it means to be “in Jesus.”
Before we look at that, it might be helpful to look at what being in Jesus is not.
It is not a beginning with Christ and then going on our own. Today those of you who were baptized identified that you have a beginning with Christ. But I suspect that many of us who were baptized a long time ago would have to admit that we also had a beginning with Christ, but since then we have tried to live the Christian life on our own strength. Paul encourages us that the Christian life is one lived in Jesus from beginning to end when he says in Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Being in Jesus is also not the practice of excellent self discipline. Although there is a place for discipline in our lives, there is also a danger of thinking that if we can only achieve a certain level of discipline the Christian life will be easy. Paul warns about this danger in Galatians 3:3 when he says "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"
Being in Jesus is also not staying in a safe place so that the trouble of the world will not touch us. It does not mean hiding behind the walls of the church, or our small group and never engaging the world. Paul speaks about that in 1 Corinthians 5:9 when he says, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world … In that case you would have to leave this world." Clearly God does not intend us to “leave” this world by hiding from it.
So what does it mean to be “in Jesus?”
First of all it means dependence on Jesus. A number of you quoted Proverbs 3:5, 6 in your testimonies this morning. There we read "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." What a great verse to help us know that it is by trust in Jesus that we can gain the victory in the world that He has won.
The other thing it means is that we must have a relationship with Him. In John 15:5 Jesus has already talked about this and the imagery is clear and powerful. There we read, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Cut a branch off a tree and it dies. It must be completely connected to the trunk if it is to live. So we also must be intimately, regularly, daily, connected to Jesus if we are to live in His victory.
If we are in Jesus, this verse gives us a promise!
Carla and I both came home after particularly stressful days and the comment was made, “I need to find my happy place.” Where is your “happy place?” How do we live always in our “happy place?” Perhaps the promise of Jesus that in Him we have peace is the place to find our happy place.
The basis of peace is what Jesus has done. The ability to have peace is by living in Jesus. The promise is that if these two things are in place, we have peace.
In Jesus the world will not overcome us, the enemy cannot defeat us, we are able to overcome our sins, we have all we need and death is not the end. That is a place of peace!
Matthew Henry said, “Peace in Christ is the only true peace, and in him alone believers have it.”
What Jesus has accomplished is absolutely amazing!
All who have been baptized have identified with Him.
The challenge is to continue to live in Him.
The promise is that He has overcome and so will give you peace.
Let us celebrate what we have in Christ by sharing & prayer, by communion, by foot-washing and by worship.