Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Jesus promises his followers an abundant life. He promises that he will always be with them. He promises that no harm will come to them. And in this week’s Gospel reading from John 15:26-16:4, He adds some promises. “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (16:1-2, ESV).
These aren’t the daily promises from Jesus that you want to have come up on your phone app that gives you God’s word for the day, in bite size inspirational format. Really, when I say I want some good news, I don’t want an answer such as “it could be worse, much worse.”
There is, however, great hope in this passage. The reason that Christians may end up as outcasts and even targets of terrible, murderous acts, is that those who do these awful acts didn’t know the Father or the Son (16:3). People who are not partakers of God’s promises end up throwing all sorts of anger and hatred toward those who know God’s grace. People who have no hope of eternal life really have a hard time with those whose hope is steadfast.
Christians have a sure and certain hope, and it is a hope in the resurrection. We have an abundant life, a destiny of all we will ever or can ever need, in the future. It matters little what happens to us in the meantime. Our pleasure is found in the heavenly realms, and, sometimes - often - by God’s grace, to some extent, we have great comfort and pleasure in this life as well.
Christians have a promise of the presence of Jesus with them, day by day, through the end of the age. It’s the risen Lord, the one who has even been through death on our behalf. And if he is with us to the end of this age, he’ll be around when our mortal bodies wear out and die. It’s all right. He’s been there before. He defeated that enemy called death and promises us safe passage right on through.
Christians have a promise that no eternal harm will come to them. Will they be cast out of the synagogue? Sure. Will they be threatened? More than likely. Will some of them be killed? That’s without a doubt. But the promise isn’t against pain and suffering. It is that, regardless of what happens in this life, Christians are partakers of the resurrection. We may endure terrible things here and now, but our Lord Jesus is able to protect us and take us to our eternal home.
He didn’t tell the disciples all those things before he was about to leave them. He knew they would forget. In fact, they seem to have forgotten in the hours and days shortly before and after Jesus’ execution. But he showed them, through his resurrection and his appearances, that he is able to be with them.
Whatever the temporal situation, we have a confidence that will not fail.
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