JOHN:The book of heartfelt belief
WHAT HAPPENS UNTIL JESUS RETURNS?
Jerry A. Collins
It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus left us and ascended back to His Father in heaven. The intervening years for Christians have included its share of heartache, suffering, hardship, difficulty, sorrow and pain. Just because you are a believer does not exempt you from the trails and tribulations life in this world brings. Someday Jesus will reappear but sorrow, pain and spiritual failure will be our experience. However, Jesus tells us that joy, love and peace will be included. But how will joy, love and peace follow us through this experience of life? We learn how this will happen from Jesusí words to His disciples about what their immediate future will hold for them when Jesus is gone.
1. God turns our sorrow into joy when we pray about our need 16-24
Bewilderment Jesus comments initially perplex and puzzle His disciples vss 16-18. Their concern is on how long this absence is going to last. They could not reconcile Jesusí statements because he said in a short time they would not see him, then, they would see him, and he was going to the Father. Apparently they had considerable dialogue about this without arriving at an answer. How long does this mean? Why is he going to the Father? We are usually concerned about how long a trial is going to last arenít we? Why do I have to go thru this? Just like these disciples we are plagued with the when? and Why? too. For the disciples, the answer comes with Jesus death, resurrection, post-resurrection ministry and ascension. But they do not understand that yet. Our limited understanding about the trial and what it is producing according to Gods plan is a major problem for us too. We see such a narrow limited range of life whereas God sees dimensions invisible to us. We can become bewildered just as Jesusí disciples were leaving us grasping for answer about how long this sorrow will last and why did it happen?
Joy Jesus ignores this whole matter of time and stresses a process that turns their sorrow into joy 19-20. After repeating the questions he makes clear that a period of sorrow is inevitable for them. He cannot spare them or rescue them from it. There will be a time when they will weep. lament, sorrow while the world is rejoicing. But your sorrow will be turned to joy. How long that takes is insignificant. The inevitable result is the important thing. While we cry out how long how long do I have to go thru this? The Lord is focused on what is coming at the end, the joy He promises me.
Picture This is illustrated by childbirth vss 21-22. Every mother knows about the pain associated with labor. But you also know the joy when the baby is delivered. The same thing causing the sorrow later is the cause of joy. That is not how we usually think. We assume our sorrow will be replaced with joy. But the promise is that the very thing causing the sorrow is also going to be the cause of the joy. The disciples were entering the process of pain of Jesus departure but this same departure will be the source of their erupting in joy after the resurrection! A joy that will last and stick and be unshakable vs 24. God does not care how long this process takes. We do, but He does not! God is only hopeful about the increase of our joy. Not joy due to our circumstances working out like we want them too. For the disciples that would be Jesus not leaving them. But a joy from within that percolates thru all of our circumstances. The HS takes the thing causing pain and produces joy in us. It will take time. It is a process. What is our part in this process of sorrow to joy?
Prayer The process leading to this joy is prayer 23-24. Often our sorrow and trials will lead us to pray. Prayer is communicating messages to God while He is not visibly manifested to me. The key phrase is Ask...in my name. First, that means asking in line with the Lordís objectives. To ask in anyoneís name means to ask as though you were that person. This means we ask for what Jesus would want. Study what he prayed for and ask consistent with that. Then, second it means praying in dependence upon His power and activity at work in my life. It is Jesus who will do these things. It is not done by our scurrying around trying to arrange things and work them out for ourselves. It is done by reliance upon, trusting in him to carry my prayer thru in His own unique way! When I do that, I will receive an answer that will produce joy out of my need. That is quite different from anything the world can do. Itís method of clearing up difficulty is to try and change circumstances. But that never produces the complete result wanted and needed.
2. We can pray confidently about our need because we have a relationship with God the Father who loves us 25-28
Change So far the disciples are very aware of the marvelous and intimate relationship Jesus has with His Father. The dependence, trust, fellowship and prayer which they knew nothing about. But now that must end. No more veiled utterances about the Father either 25 just plain speech.
Access You are no longer to view yourselves as separated from the Father nor to think that I have a special link with him you cannot have. They had relied upon Jesus to obtain favor and privilege with the Father. This is now brought to an end. In that day vs 26 refers to the day in which we now live when we have direct access to the Father who loves us directly just as he loves Jesus, His Son when they pray. The reason is because they came to believe His incarnation, I came from the Father, His humiliation, and entered the world, His resurrection, ascension, leaving world returning to the Father 27-28. Jesus would no longer need to pray on their behalf since they could ask for themselves. I have a direct relationship with the Father and he loves me like He loves Jesus, His Son. That produces security for me to manage my sorrow and trials in the context of that relationship. That is also true for marriages, families, friendships.
3. Peace comes from the confidence that God knows what He is doing even though I may not 29-33
The disciples thought they knew what God was doing now. Felt sense of security that they understood things. We may think God has to explain what were going thru then we will feel secure too. Their security will be shaken soon. Yet Jesus security will not be threatened then for His Father is in control. He offers us this same peace in God who still controls all.