Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
The disciples said to Jesus, “Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
In the world you will have trouble. But take courage, I have conquered the world. These are the most comforting words I have ever read in my life. They speak to me. They are so important to me.
When I first came across these words, many years ago, I wrote them down. I placed them in my pocket. I placed them on my desk. I kept them at my fingertips. Over the years I have referred to them on numerous occasions: when I have to make an important (or difficult) decision; when I’m frightened; when I’m alone or dejected; when I feel the weight of evil upon my shoulders.
I must have spoken these words a thousand times. I love these words. I love the one who spoke them. I feel like He spoke them directly to me.
I did. I said them to you.
I have heard beautiful things all my life. I have been surrounded by loving people all my life. But not one thing ever said to me has had the impact these words, spoken long ago, have had on me. No poet ever spoke them. No human ever dared to own them. Only a lamb could ever assume them. Only God could say them.
Take courage, I have conquered the world. Only the Lord Jesus Christ would say such a thing, and at the most awkward of moments: on the night He was betrayed; his weakest moment.
Who could grasp such a concept? Who could trust such words? Only men of God. Only men of faith.
My faith is my response to God’s grace. It is my personal and proper response to God’s presence in my world. We walk by faith, knowing perfectly well where it will lead me, but not quite knowing how it will all happen. Therefore, faith allows God’s story to be played out through me; or better yet, faith allows Christ story to be retold through me. God wants me to see the Christ I did not see. Faith allows me to experience what Christ experienced, and in living color.
Sins continue to repeat themselves. Why shouldn’t Christ repeat himself? Pontius Pilate may be dead and gone, but newer and more improved “Pontius Pilates” are alive and well. The massacre of the innocents did not play out once. They continue to be played out today, and in even greater numbers. Romans continue to roam the streets, maybe not in legions but in gangs. The IRS, like the tax collectors of long ago, continue to extort and persecute those who rub them the wrong way.
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. The hour has come. Good people flee. Detractors, well…detract. Doubters love to sow seeds of doubt. Can you believe that there are people in this world that would love to share their darkness with you? Can you believe that there are people in this world that would love to take your faith away? There are plenty of nasty people in this world that would love to crush you, chew you and spit you out; that wouldn’t think twice about slitting your throat, snipping a baby’s spine, and terrorizing a peaceful city. Again, there are plenty of people who live in total darkness and would love to share their darkness, rob you of your faith, question your experiences, and lead you to absolutely nothing. Don’t stay away from them! Don’t keep your distance! Are you kidding??? Don’t be afraid.
“In the world you will have trouble. Take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Repeat these words. Memorize them. Teach them to your children. Share them with your friends. Take comfort in them.