“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:25-33
Three times in the conversation between Jesus and his disciples (recorded in the verses immediately prior to these above) Jesus’ words are quoted: “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16, 17, 19). As Jesus explains these words to the disciples the scales began to fall from their eyes. “Ah, now you are speaking plainly…,” they say (v. 29). Little did they know. The events set to unfold in the next few days would shake their faith to the core. So, too, Jesus’ victory will solidify their resolve to serve him.
Jesus had forewarned them. They understood. But they had so much to learn. It’s one of those moments when you experience something of which you have been told, and realize the experience is far more than words could possibly ever convey. You have to live it.
For the disciples the tribulation (v. 33) would be Jesus’ arrest, suffering, and death. It would continue to unfold in the resurrection, the launch of the church (Acts 2), the persecutions they would experience, and the joy of being part of the advance of God’s kingdom in ways they could never have imagined.
Both the tribulation and the victory shaped their character and their faith. They were living what they had heard of. They were wise to Satan’s ploys, and confident of Jesus’ power.
We may know trouble will come our way; but it may come in forms we would never have imagined. But the same is true of Jesus’ victory in our lives. Whether in Jesus’ intervention in a marriage relationship, a hospital room, your personal finances, or job, we can be confident of Jesus’ presence at all times, and certain of the ultimate victory in Christ.
Sometimes it’s only by means of walking through troubles and tribulations that we see the fullness of Christ’s power, and develop the character to serve him more faithfully.