Text: John 16: 1-4
Text verse: John 16: 4
The Greek word used here and translated as “become apostate” reminds us of someone setting a trap for a person. So too will the world’s hatred of the disciples be. The world will aim to force Jesus’ disciples to apostasy.
The way they do it will also show how desperate the world is. Jesus cites the example of being banished from the synagogue. This means that believers will be rejected from the community. They will be cut off from precisely that precious heritage that every Jew cherishes. They will no longer be considered Jews. Almost like the Samaritan community.
They will even go so far as to think that they are doing a service to God when they kill Jesus’ disciples. Again, it reminds us of the pagan custom of sacrificing people to the gods.
We also see the reality of this shortly after Jesus’ death. Paul was one of the great persecutors of the church. He assisted when Stephen was stoned “in the service of God”. Then Paul was converted and persecuted (cf. Act 26).
With these words, Jesus is preparing his disciples for what lies ahead. In a sense, knowing what lies ahead helps us to accept suffering. If they did not know it, they would be constantly wondering if they might have done something wrong and are now being punished by God.
For the same reason, it is also important for us as believers to know that discipleship is not always easy. We need to realise that our lives are at stake. We also experience similar persecution. You may be threatened with losing your job if you do not hide the truth. Perhaps you cannot get that promotion if you are not willing to be dishonest. Similarly, you may be required to pay bribes.
It is precisely in times like these that we must cling to Jesus’ words.
Word punctuation is used here. Chapter 13: 1 states that Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to be crucified.
In this passage Jesus says that the enemy also has such time. Where Jesus’ time means that he will be humiliated and killed, the enemy’s time means that their celebrations will be rampant. It will even seem as if evil has overcome.
Therefore, when it feels as if evil is in control and has achieved victory, we can think back to Jesus’ time. It was also a time when the enemy celebrated a sham victory. Jesus seemed to have been dealt with, but it was far from the end. Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and from there He now rules over heaven and earth.
We must hold on to that victory. He is in control and we can trust Him with our lives. Our enemy’s demise is closer than ever.
Do not bow and fall before temptation. Remember, you have much greater wealth, security and family in Christ.