Monday 13 May 2013

Bible Book:

“But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (v. 33)

John 16:29-33 Monday 13 May 2013

Background: Understanding and courage

Today's passage is part of a wider dialogue with Jesus and hisdisciples. Previous chapters demonstrate that even though thedisciples had been with Jesus for some time, and had seen him dosome pretty special things, they were still on a learning curve.Jesus had gone away from them before, and had usually returned orcaught up with them, but now he was talking about going away andnot coming back, at least not like he had before.

In John 16, Jesus is taking the time to unpack some of thethings he had said that had gone over the heads of some or all ofthe disciples. They were not afraid to ask 'what do you mean?', andhe was clearly open to ensuring that they understood what he meant.He had been speaking of things that would happen both to him in thenear future and to them later on, some of which was challenging.Jesus patiently perseveres with his explanations of both until theysay: 'Aha! Now we get it'.

Understanding what is being said or taught doesn't always meanthat a problem has been resolved or that a difficulty hasevaporated. But it does mean that the mystery of what is going on,or ignorance of what is going to happen is replaced by awarenessand readiness. That's where we pick up the conversation with Jesusand his disciples, but it doesn't end there, because awareness andreadiness could lead to fear and anxiety, neither of which wouldprove useful for what the disciples were being prepared for.

In response to the 'aha!' of his disciples, Jesus says: "takecourage; I have conquered the world". In other words, don't headfor the hills or run for cover. Be strengthened and stay focused;I've prepared (you) for this.' That proved to be more than a soundbite. It was reminder that their understanding today could lead tothe courage they would need in the days ahead.

To Ponder

  • What do Jesus' words "take courage" mean to you today?
  • How do you respond when you do not understand, or are notunderstood?
  • Whose advice has given you courage? What was it and why?
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