St. John’s Gospel (37): Peace in Persecution (John 16)
Coming Tribulation 1-4
Going Away and Coming of the Spirit 5-16
Coming of Jesus Changes Grief to Joy 17-22
Going Away and Prayer in My Name 23-30
Coming Tribulation 31-33
Why Must We Have Tribulation? In our study of John 20 last week we saw the “mission” (as the Father sent Jesus) to convey forgiveness in the world as the body of Christ. The world needs to hear the beautiful message of forgiveness, purchased by Christ’s cross work. In chapter 16, we are reminded to balance the message of forgiveness with what is a necessary precondition. The Gospel requires us to see our radical sinfulness. Forgiveness presupposes sin and sin presupposes real evil in ourselves. Thus, the full message of the Gospel includes the “happy thought” that all people are evil and justly deserve hell without the mercy of Christ. This applies to “good people” just as much as to “bad people” (whomever we put in these categories). Even more, it requires the intolerance to demand that unless a person repents and believes in this exclusive Lord, Jesus, they are justly condemned. When we explain forgiveness and the mission of the Church in the fullest context, then, we can see why persecution is inevitable. Jesus saves, yes. But Jesus condemns, too. Is your gospel “full”?
How Must We Handle Tribulation? John 16 is difficult to outline because there are swirls of repetition. John is very Hebraic, in expressing many parallelisms. The parallels in this chapter outline tribulation, the Spirit, and Christ's post-resurrection presence which brings joy. They will be persecuted, just as He had. They will quite literally “kill the messengers.” At the center is the promise their grief will be turned to joy by Christ’s presence (the post-resurrection appearances). When Christ goes to the Father, the Spirit will come. Through the ministry of the Spirit they will now have truth, as well as effective prayer in Christ’s name for the fulfillment of their ministry. While in the upper room they were confused, but the Spirit will lead them in truth (“all things”) and empower them. Practically, if we tell the “whole” gospel, we will have tribulation. We can endure this tribulation because of the Resurrection. In this tribulation we must cling to the truth revealed by the Spirit (the Word) and pray to the Father who loves us in the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus. Are your tribulations endured by prayerful knowledge of Christ’s resurrection?
Are you resting in the “all truth” that was given to the Apostles, the Word of God?
Are you changing the message to avoid persecution and tribulation?
Are you remembering the Resurrection in your trials?
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more