Thursday, January 27, 2011

Comforts from the Cross - Day 19

The World Overcome

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  -John 16:33

Imagine 12 guys following Jesus around for a few years.  They had given up all they had to follow Him. It has been a great week. They marched into Jerusalem to shout of "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (John 12:13). Surely, this is what they had expected. Finally, the Messiah would receive His coronation.  Imagine their surprise as they sat in a room eating a Passover meal together and Jesus began to speak of leaving them, that someone would deny Him, and they would experience sorrow when He left. Would you be confused? If I had been one of the twelve, I know I would have. They had followed Him and Jesus was saying to them, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me." (John 13:36). How strange for Jesus to speak those words!

"We are so frequently misguided about God's plans. Day by day we measure our progress toward anticipated goals; we judge God's faithful and our performance by the proximity of the desired accomplishment." There are days when we are probably like the twelve disciples, "Um, Jesus, this isn't exactly what I signed up for... I didn't plan on this happening." Unfortunately, this leads us to doubt and a big question I often hear, "Is God really good?" What words did Jesus tell His disciples, "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have pace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." This is where the confusion comes in, did I really think I would overcome the world? Maybe, I had plans for it.

This is actually where I see the beauty of the Gospel.  "It dispels darkness and confusion.  It tells me about Him, about myself. It tells me that I am in Him, and because that's my identity, I can have peace when peace is beyond comprehension."  My selfish ambition is quickly replaced with His work.   The goal is not for me to overcome, but to see His kingdom advance. The goal is not for me to be gloried, but for Him to glorify Himself.  "His plans confound the wisdom of the wisest man. I deceive myself into believing that I am better than this and deserve better than this. He gently reminds me that I deserve an eternity of excruciating flame eating at my soul and separation from His Son." It reminds me who has overcome, not me, but Jesus. Jesus has overcome the world. Did you get that? Did you believe it?

Unlike the disciples thinking, "Jesus resisted the temptation to prove his rightful place as the Lord of the universe." Instead, He came and fulfilled the Law and prophecies, and willingly laid down His life in our place. He overcame the world by defeating our final enemy, death. "The resurrection speaks powerfully into our lives when it seems as though the light is about to be extinguished." So, what happens when things don't turn out like you planned? Is God really good? Yes, Jesus is far greater than you can imagine and He has overcome the world. Now, He is seated at the right hand of God ruling over all the earth. He is the all-powerful God!

Today, I rejoice that He has overcome the world and brings real peace. You are going to encounter tribulations, but Jesus promises peace! "Peace begins to fill my soul when I remember the truth of the Gospel: I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope. I deserve less than nothing, but have been given everything."

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