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Suffering Servant - John 16

Today we continue our study of the Gospel of John in Chapter 16.  Last week we talked about how Jesus told his disciples that people would hate them, and here he doubles down, saying that the day would come when people would try to kill them and think they were doing the work of God by killing them.  He told his disciples that in a little while he would go where they could not see him, and then in a little while they would see him again.  He encouraged them that his leaving was good because he would send the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit would not only remind them of what he had taught, but teach them what they were not yet ready to hear from him.  He told them that God would give them anything they asked in his name.  When the disciples finally started to think they were understanding what Jesus was talking about he gave them a quick reality check.  He predicted that when things got dicey they would all leave him to face the troubles alone.  Before the inevitable objections he added "but it's OK, take heart, for I have overcome the world!".  

Do you hear Jesus' pain in this chapter?  Notice in verse 5 when he says to the disciples "None of you ask where I am going."  He has been telling them that he is leaving for two chapters, but none of them asked that question?  They did ask questions like "Why are you leaving us!?".  They did say things like "No, this should never happen to you!?".  But they didn't ask him where he was going.  They were concerned with their own agendas & ideas.  These are Jesus' closest friends, at a time when he needs them most, but they seem too lost in their own heads to notice.  

Somehow Jesus musters the strength to encourage them when it is his own heart that is feeling weak.  He says to them, don't worry when I am gone, the Spirit will comfort you.  He explains how this is really all for their benefit, but then they get comfortable and think they understand.  I suspect this is where Jesus got a little flustered with them.  I imagine him shouting out: "You think you get it huh?  In a couple hours when things get hard, you are all going to run, every one of you!  You will leave me alone, to face this trouble all by myself, but you think you have it huh?"  And yet how he ends that thought is what makes him so compelling.  Instead of just lashing out at them, while he gives them a harsh reality check, he ends with encouragement.  "It's OK, take heart, for this battle is already won".  

Have you ever been comforted by the person you should be comforting?  It is a POWERFUL experience.  Imagine yourself visiting someone who is dying.  You hold their hand and sit together in silence.  At some point they look up at you and they see you hurting with them.  They grab your hand and pat the back of it and they say "It's OK, it's all going to be OK."  I am telling you that this is not an uncommon experience, but it is a powerful one.  In that moment you sense the presence of God right there with you.  You realize how much closer to God those who suffer are. This is why Fred Rogers famously asked a dying man to pray for him, because, as he explained, "I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God."

God, help us to pay attention to those who are suffering.  Help us to be present for their needs and not our own agendas.  Help us to see you at work in them and to feel your presence among those that suffer.  Help us to be supportive and loving of those that need us.  When we are suffering, remind us, as you did your disciples, that you have already won, that you have overcome this world!  


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