The Victory That Comes From Christ
April 27, 2008
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
The Time Is Coming To Make The Father Clearly Known
1. Jesus said, "I have been speaking these things using puzzles. No longer [speaking] through puzzles, the time is coming to make the father clearly known," (16:25). It says here in the text "puzzles," but this is not the word for "parables." It means "a phrase in which the meaning is hidden," "a puzzling statement." In short, it means that the disciples do not understand right now the words of Jesus, they do not get it clearly.
2. Up to that point Jesus had surely been speaking about the father. For the disciples, Jesus was the being who pointed to God the Father. [Jesus] himself had called on the name of the Father, he prayed to the Father on behalf of the disciples, and he showed them himself how to live day by day with the Father. The Lord even ventured to say, "If you know me, then you will know my father. From here on, you will know [my] father. Indeed, you already see [my] father," (14:7). In this way then, Jesus had showed them who the father was, and he spoke to them about the father. But in the passage we read for today, Jesus says regarding the disciples that, "Still you have clearly not known about the father." It is only puzzling words to you, he said. But, now, the Lord says, "The time is coming to make the father clearly known [to you]."
3. "The time is coming to make the father clearly known." When is that [supposed to be]? This can also be translated as "The time has come to make the father clearly known." But, it is not clear that at that time and at that place is meant; because the text says in verse twenty-six, "At that day." The Lord was speaking in regard to a forthcoming day.
4. But yet, the section that we read today is the very last story in a series on the last supper. In a few hours after this, Jesus would be arrested. Then he would be put on trial, put on a cross, and put to death. Jesus knew about these things. Already at the beginning of chapter thirteen, the scripture says, "Jesus realized that his hour had come for him to move from this world to the father, and he loved the disciples who were in this world, and he loved them completely with the highest love," (13:1). Even in verse twenty-eight which we read today, the scripture says, "I came from [my] father and came into this world, but now, I am leaving this world and going to [my] father." Therefore, Jesus is obviously speaking in regard to what's after his being crucified.
5. "The time is coming to make the father clearly known." That's what the Lord said. After he was crucified, if Jesus himself said that he would make the father clearly known, it would not be as a dead person, of course, but as a person risen from the dead. As a person risen from the dead and gone back to the father he would speak. To go the next step with this, the Christ of the resurrection, who had gone back to the father, would clearly speak on the father, through the working of the Spirit of truth.
6. "The time is coming to make the father clearly known." What ever did he mean by "clearly," that he must make the father known clearly? As verse twenty-seven has it, it says that the father himself has loved us. Jesus has shown the relationship of love with the father. The father has loved the son. The son has walked trusting in the father's love. It is saying that the love seen between this father and son is also directed towards us. God the Father loves us. How much? [He loves us] so much that he gave his only son unsparingly for us. [He loves us] so much that in order to forgive our sins he would crucify his son. He loves us that much. The Lord says, that through the act of Jesus' being crucified, "The time has come for him to make the father clearly known" as this kind of father.
7. And the time did come. It had already come. On that day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended, and since that time when the disciples had begun to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, it had already begun. As the one who had accomplished atonement for sin upon the cross and then rising from the dead and living for eternity, Jesus had clearly made this father known. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, by means of the church, Christ is speaking. We have truly been informed, in this way, that the father loves us. Jesus has made it known to us.
8. Things like our prayer life are formed based on how Jesus clearly made the father known to us. The Lord says, "On that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying I will ask the father on your behalf. The father himself loves you." We ourselves by ourselves call [to the father], "Oh our father!" As children loved by the father, we call [our] father and ask [our] father [our requests].
9. Thus, the one who "made the father clearly known" to us, the one who made known to us the fact that the father himself loves us, and the one who showed us how to pray to this same father, also went on to inform us of the following. "I have told these things to you so that you will obtain peace through me. You will have difficulties in the world. But have courage. I have already overcome the world," (verse thirty-three). Let's remember these words, too, as words which [Jesus] has given to us.
10. Jesus not only makes the father known clearly. As the one who got the victory by being with the father, he encourages and supports us, saying "Have courage."
11. Jesus was speaking that way because he knew the disciples' weakness. The disciples were puffed up with pride as they confessed forth the faith, "We believe that you have come from God," (verse thirty). In other words, they are saying we believe you are the messiah. But, Jesus knew that the disciples confessing forth their faith like that were exposing their weakness. "Have you finally come to believe now? Yet, the time is coming when you will be scattered and end up going back to your houses, and you will leave me all alone. Indeed, the time has already come," (verses thirty-one and thirty-two).
12. That's right. It is precisely because Jesus knew this weakness of the disciples that he readily showed the strength that he himself had. Where does the strength of Jesus lie? It lies in "[his] father being with [him]." Everyone had deserted him, even his own disciples had betrayed him, and even though no one would be his ally, even though no one would do battle for him, his strength was that he could say, "I am not alone." His strength was that he could say, "[My] father is with [me]." Because Jesus had this strength, even at a time when he was heading into a seemingly desperate situation, he could still make the announcement, "I have already overcome the world."
13. "The world" Jesus is talking about is "the world" that ganged up on him and was about to crucify him. It is "the world" that was ready to give him a blood bath upon the cross. It is the devil controlled "world" which goes against the Christ. But, he already has the victory over that "world." He announced that the victory is already decided. What kind of victory over the world is this? Is it [the kind] through destroying the opponents who hated him? No, it is not. It is [the kind] through completely loving the persons who hated him. And it is [the kind] through saving the world from its sin. Jesus declared with confidence that he could accomplish the atoning salvation of the sins of the world. He announced victory. Why [did he do that]? Because he had the strength to be able to say "[My] father is with [me]."
14. Jesus showed that he had this true strength and being with the father Jesus made the victory announcement, and it is this same Jesus who says to us, "You will have difficulties in this world. But have courage!" As long as we're in the world hard times are unavoidable. As long as we're in a world where the devil has control, we will have hard times. In particular, while we're in this world, and if we're trying to live in obedience to Christ, hard times will be inevitable. To us, living in this kind of world, the Lord says, "Have courage!"
15. As we can see from what I have already stated, the reason he says, "Have courage!," is not because a courage ready to pop up at crunch time can be found within either the disciples or ourselves. Jesus stated with repeated acknowledgements that his disciples were the kind who would end up running away at crunch time. In truth this statement is used in a very impressive scene in scripture. It is the story of the time when the disciples were riding in a boat and rowing out into the Sea of Galilee. They were having trouble rowing because of adverse winds. Their agonizing lasted till dawn. They were completely exhausted, they were so afraid and worried, to the point that they mistook Jesus approaching them as a ghost. In that state, the Lord said to them, "Be at peace. It is me. Do not be afraid," (Mark 6:50). This "Be at peace" that he says is the same phrase [as "Have courage!"]
16. As we are struggling to row upon [our own] pitch black lakes because of adverse winds, Jesus says to us, "Be at peace!" "Have courage!" means that. You will have hard times in this world. But be at peace! Have courage! That's what Jesus says. Why [can he say that]? Because Jesus already has won the victory. Because he won it through true strength. Because he won it by the father being with him. And it's not because only Jesus has that strength. He gives it to us, too. He says that "The father himself loves you." Thus, we too can say that "I am not alone. [My heavenly] father is with [me]." Because the Lord will be that way for us, he also says to us, "Be at peace! Have courage!"
17. In the second reading for today we read the epistle Paul addressed to the followers at Rome, in which was given through Jesus Christ the true strength of the father being made clearly known and of being with the father. In chapter eight and verse fifteen the scripture says as follows. "You have not received the spirit as a slave that falls into fear again, but have received the spirit that makes a person a child of God. By this spirit we call, 'Abba, oh father.'," (Romans 8:15). In saying "Abba" it is the word that Jesus originally [used when he] spoke. We, too, now in our time, can speak that [way] because we have known the beloved father. Therefore, even in the passage we read today, the following is written. "I am confident. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor things that control, nor things present, nor things future, nor things powerful, nor things in high places, nor things in low places, nor any other created thing, can separate us from the love of God as shown through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 8:38-39). We too are given this faith.