John 16: 28-33
I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”
His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
Those poor Disciples! After three years of listening to their wise counselor speak in parables, their brains are in knots. The unspoken message is clear: You need to explain it to us as if we were twelve-year-olds. So Jesus puts it plainly: “I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the father.” The relief is almost palpable, isn’t it? “Yes!” the Disciples exclaim. “Now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech!” (vs. 30).
Do they get it? Jesus seems skeptical. Perhaps the eleven understand what he’s saying in the abstract, but the reality of where he came from and where he’s going is altogether different. So he presses, asking, “Do you now believe?” (vs. 32). Before they can answer, he offers a prophecy and a rebuke: Soon, they will all scatter and desert him.
And yet, and yet… in the next breath there is reassurance. “I am not alone because the Father is with me.” He rests in God. He has made his peace.
I have never appreciated this verse more than I do now. Though Jesus has the weight of the world upon him, he offers peace and comfort to his friends. Can’t you imagine his animation when he exhorts the twelve to “take courage; I have conquered the world!”? (vs. 33).
What does he mean? (I’ll try to speak plainly!) In my mind, Jesus is saying that he steadies himself for death knowing that his victory over the powers and principalities of the world has already been won. The Disciples cannot know that he will change the course of the world with his sacrificial offering of hope. But they do know that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and that love defeats the power of death.
Jesus’ love for his friends offers them—and us—a thread that forever connects us to his Father and the Spirit of Truth. We can wake up every day with the assurance that a new day brings hope and change, and that our pain will never have the last word.
My friends, no one or thing can ever take this hope from us. We may lose those we love on this plane, or feel that the world is dark and shrouded in evil and sickness. But the love that abides between God and Jesus will always abide in us. This is our blessed assurance.
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
(The Hymn Blessed Assurance)