Forewarned Is To Be Forearmed

“These things I have spoken to you so that you will not be led into sin. They will ban you from the synagogue, yet an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering a service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. However, I did not say these things to you at the beginning, because I was with you. “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, grief has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment:regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:1-15)

Our unstable society has caused some to be apprehensive, even fearful of difficult times coming. Hopefully they aren’t, but if they do we should be spiritually and mentally ready. Therefore, consider Jesus’s conversation with His disciples as His life neared an end.

As they moved from Mt. Zion to Gethsemane, Christ warned His followers of pending problems in order to avoid them being offended. The word offended is “skandalon,” meaning to be given an occasion to stumble, (Vs. 1) and be ready to die if necessary. Literally, “Don’t be trapped” by circumstances. It is an encouragement not to be surprised by difficulty.

Sorrow was forthcoming for the apostles. (Vss. 1-6)

This principle causes some to stumble if it is not rightly understood. Jesus gave His followers a simple, clear forewarning of persecution. When Bible translator Tyndale was being persecuted for his efforts to put the Bible in the hands of people, he said, “I never expected anything else.” He employed the appeal to be ready for it. 

Christ informed them so they would “not be offended,” that is, they would not stumble.

Today suffering is met with varying responses. Often persons become bitter and critical of God.

The wife of C.S. Lewis, Joy, died of cancer. In his book, “A Grief Observed,” he described one phase through which he went. It is not all together different from our own at various times: “Not that I am…in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not, ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but, ‘So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”

Isaiah revealed Christ not to be an indifferent, remote God but an involved, caring, compassionate God: “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” (Isaiah 53: 3,4)

Christ does not just share our suffering, but He lovingly allows us to share His. In this light a believer can see being privileged to share in the suffering of the cross. So don’t complain. To add to this concept read  I Peter 4:1, 12-13.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis wrote, “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die. Receiving Christ as Lord means preparing for battle. It means doing what He tells you to do, when He tells you to, how He tells you to do it, where He tells you to do it, as He did.”

Don’t live captive by worry, but daily be blessed by the joy inherent in your salvation.