You have dropped everything to follow Jesus and for three years, you have watched Jesus do incredible things and have yourself been given abilities that have changed people’s lives. But now, you find yourself at the dinner table, celebrating the Feast of the Passover (John 13:1), only to hear Jesus say, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16). Confusion settles in, and then you hear, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20). This joy, Jesus promises, “no one will take from you” (John 16:22). But before that would take place, they would “be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me [Jesus] alone” (John 16:32)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Wow! That would be a lot to take in. We know from Matthew’s account, that all the disciples stated, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:35): Even so, Jesus, of course, knew better. He also knew that upon His resurrection, these men would be instrumental in the proclamation of the gospel. Thus, He promises them three things.
First, that peace is available in Christ! So, do you have peace? Sadly, this question is often asked and answered within the dynamics of our circumstances. The peace Jesus speaks of here is not influenced by those things. The peace He is talking about is the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatever sort that is. Paul speaks of this saying, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). The enmity man once had with God (James 4:4; Romans 8:7) has been resolved through the redemptive work of Christ and can be claimed by all who are in Christ.
Second, even though peace is assured, so is tribulation. We need only to look at the book of Acts to see this truth. In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested. In Acts 5 we find the apostles imprisoned and in Acts 7 Stephen is martyred and the church scattered in Acts 8. Jesus Himself said earlier in John 16, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (v2). Paul exhorted Timothy saying, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2nd Timothy 3:12). Even so, in the midst of such adversity, peace in Christ would be theirs along with that joy that no one will take away. How can those in Christ face such opposition and still have peace and joy?
Finally, Jesus encourages them to “be of good cheer,” which can also mean to be of good courage. That is why the ETRV uses these exhorting words, “But be brave!” This call to bravery is not without reason; which is, Jesus has “overcome the world.” Those of us who are in Christ can face tribulation knowing that it will produce perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:4). Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). He could say this because he knew, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Recently, I heard someone explain joy as Jesus Over You. Why is it that I allow external things to rob me of that joy and peace? Then it hit me, no one can rob me of either of those things; rather, I allow circumstances to distract me and take my eyes off my peace and joy, which is Jesus.