It has been easy to forget this is Passion Week and we are less than 48 hours from Good Friday. I found myself re-reading John 15, some of the last teaching Jesus would give the disciples before going to the Cross. He reminds them the only way to grow in their faith is to remain connected to God in prayer and study (John 15:1-11).
Jesus continues to tell the disciples they are more than students, they are friends, dear to Jesus’ heart (vs. 12-17). It’s when we read verses 18-27 that the tone take a different turn. Jesus doesn’t sugar coat what is going to happen to the disciples once He ascends to Heaven. He tells them that if He was persecuted, then they will be persecuted because they follow Him. If the people who followed Jesus listened to Jesus’ teaching, then they will continue to listen to the disciples’ teaching. The disciples should therefore, not be surprised when the world treats them badly, hating them as the world did Jesus.
When Jesus came, He brought with Him the very light of Heaven itself, which shone on all the things done by those He encountered. If a sin was not known before, now in the presence of God it was known. Then sin must be addressed to become right with God- plain and simple. The world, though, does not want to acknowledge Jesus, His authority, His holiness, or His redemptive power.
The world wants to remain in the dark. But John 1:4-5 say, In him was life, and that life was the light of me. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. In the days leading up to Good Friday Jesus reminded the disciples of all they had learned. Much like a teacher preparing students for their final exam before graduation. Jesus encouraged the disciples to remember to love each other as He had loved them. To remember troubles are normal this side of Heaven. He told them to be prepared and to pray for wisdom (John 16:1-4).
Hearing news stories and reading news feeds on social media is enough to make me ask God why, a lot. But then I read these words in John and I remember, I am not home yet. I am still here, drawing breath, working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), but with the secure knowledge that my faith is secure because of the Cross. Because Jesus died for me and because I accepted His gift of salvation. There is nothing else that gives me peace, nothing else that helps me hope.
Jesus is my firm foundation, anchor in the storm, and because of Him I know that the troubles of this world, though difficult, painful, and burdensome to experience– they will not overwhelm me. I can stand (Ephesians 6: 13) as Paul wrote, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
This Easter, I pray that as we stand free from persecution in church we will remember our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Those who are praising God for His Son, but doing it in secret because of persecution in their countries.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!!